And just like that, Demetrius Davis is the senior-most returning member of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball team.
It's already been a crazy career so far for Davis, a well-traveled 6-foot-9, 185-pounder who had a solid first season with the Mocs as a junior in 2022-23.
Davis was a 6-4 former walk-on at Augusta (Georgia) University, an NCAA Division II program, but then a growth spurt shot him up to his current height and made him a much more attractive prospect. He transferred to Lawson State, a junior college in Alabama, before joining the Mocs, and then he averaged 7.8 points per game and made 44 3-pointers, which both rank as team highs among the returning UTC players.
So college basketball has been a crash course for Davis, from D-II to JuCo to D-I. He had a lot of learning to do, but now it's going to be his time to lead what looks to be a relatively young UTC team in 2023-24.
"I know I've got a lot of work to do still, but I know I can get there," Davis said in March, prior to the Southern Conference tournament, where the Mocs reached the title game but fell short of repeating as champions and wound up 18-17 overall in Dan Earl's first season as coach.
In his move from Virginia Military Institute to UTC last year, Earl was followed by standout 7-footer Jake Stephens, who was an All-SoCon first-team selection by the media.
"Jake told me all the time that I could be one of the best players," Davis said, "so I've just been trying to go out and trying harder. It's just about putting in the effort."
Davis played in all 35 games for the Mocs. In his first three years of college — including a redshirt season in 2020-21 — he had played in only 31. So like most of the players who will be on the Mocs' 2023-24 roster, he's not exactly brimming with experience.
Only three players returning from last season — Davis and sophomore forwards Sam Alexis and Randy Brady — have played a game at UTC. A fourth player on the roster last season, sophomore guard Honor Huff, was a SoCon All-Freshman team member in 2021-22 at VMI but had to sit out last season due to league transfer rules.
The Mocs still have one scholarship left to fill, but with the roster largely full, here's the player-by-player breakdown after another offseason of change for the Mocs.
Alexis: The 6-9 forward averaged 5.0 points and 3.8 rebounds per game, highlighted by a 26-point performance against Mercer late in the season.
Brady: The 6-5 Chattanooga native played in 33 games and averaged 4.0 points and 2.9 rebounds per game and was a key player in conference competition.
Davis: Was fourth on the 2022-23 team at 7.8 points per game and fifth with 44 3-pointers. He made 29 starts and averaged 21.5 points per game.
Huff: The 5-10 guard averaged 10 points per game and shot 38% from 3 in his lone season at VMI.
A.J. Caldwell: A key member of the Mocs' SoCon championship team two years ago, he averaged 5.8 points and 4.3 rebounds in his final season. He played in 156 college games, including 152 (66 starts) with the Mocs.
KC Hankton: Another key team member in 2021-22, he spent three seasons with the program, made 41 career starts and shot a career-best 39% from 3-point range last season.
Jamal Johnson: Another experienced player lost, Johnson averaged 13.9 points and made 93 3s in his final year. He totaled 253 career 3s in five seasons at Memphis, Auburn and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Stephens: The future pro came back from a length layoff due to injury and spearheaded the Mocs' run to the SoCon tourney final. He averaged 22.0 points and 9.8 rebounds per game last season, and he had career totals of 1,943 points and 240 3s.
Dalvin White: After four years at USC Upstate, he was the starting point guard in his lone season with the Mocs and averaged a career-best 9.5 points per game and shot 42% from behind the arc. He finished his career with 1,131 points and 480 assists.
Khristion Courseault: In his lone season at UTC, he played in 28 games and averaged 5.8 points, with a 21-point game against VMI to start the SoCon tournament a highlight. He transferred to the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Grant Ledford: He spent four seasons at UTC before recently signing with Palm Beach Atlantic, a D-II program in Florida. His best season was 2021-22, when he averaged 4.9 points per game and shot 34% from 3-point range, including making seven against East Tennessee State to clinch the SoCon regular-season title.
Brody Robinson: A fan favorite, the 5-10 Robinson announced his intentions to transfer on the last day players could hit the portal. He averaged 4.1 points and 1.3 assists per game and made 39% of his 3-point attempts.
Jamaal Walker: The 6-6 Chattanooga native is joining Ledford at Palm Beach Atlantic after a couple healthy seasons and a redshirt year. Walker averaged 5.1 points in 2020-21 and a career-high 5.7 last season after starting his career as a walk-on.
Trey Bonham: The 6-0 guard has two seasons of college eligibility remaining after starting his career at VMI before transferring to Florida last year. He averaged 13.6 points per game under Earl's direction in 2021-22 at VMI, then averaged 5.6 points for the Gators and made 13 starts.
Rudy Fitzgibbons III: The 6-footer missed last season with an injury after spending three years at The Citadel. He averaged a career-best 7.9 points per game in 2021-22 and has made 109 3-pointers in his career.
Tyler Millin: The 6-7 forward enters his final college season having started 35 games in his final two years at Middle Tennessee State. His best season was 2021-22, when he made 36% of his tries from behind the arc and averaged 5.1 points per game.
Jan Zidek: The 6-9 forward with 115 career 3s has one season of eligibility remaining after four years at Pepperdine. His best season was 2021-22, when he started all 29 games and averaged 13.3 points.
HIGH SCHOOL SIGNEES
Sean Cusano: The 6-9 forward avarged 21.6 points and 10.9 rebounds and shot 54% from the field for Hilton Head Prep, which won the South Carolina Independent School Association's Class 3A state title.
Noah Melson: The 6-6 wing shot 35% from 3-point range at Alexander High School in Georgia, averaging 9.4 points and 2.6 assists per game.
Collin Mulholland: Mulholland, who transferred from Canada to Holy Family Catholic High School in Minnesota, is a talented 3-point shooter for his size (6-10) who had a 25-point, 11-rebound, 13-block game in the state tourney and 36 points in helping his team to a third-place finish in Class AA.
Myles Che: A former three-star prospect who was committed to South Florida, the 6-2 guard averaged 14.5 points and 7.5 assists while shooting 52% from the field and 42% from 3-point range at The Skill Factory Prep in Atlanta.
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org.