The cliche is true, big men take longer to develop than guards or wings.
In rare instances everything comes together early and a player becomes a well-known superstar around the area with multiple high-major offers as a sophomore or junior.
Senior year is a much more typical time to see the skills and smarts catch up with the size. That’s what is happening with Conant’s Ryan Davis.
The Vermont recruit is playing like a Duke recruit. The 6-9 senior absolutely dominated the second half of the Cougars’ 56-45 win against McHenry in the first round of the York Tournament on Tuesday in Elmhurst.
Davis scored 22 of Conant’s 30 points in the second half. It was a high-flying show. He finished with 35 total points and nine rebounds. Davis shot 12-for-12 on two-pointers and was 2-for-4 on threes.
“[Davis] obviously is a special player, he just gets the job done,” Conant coach Jim Maley said. “Whatever we need from him he just does it. Their whole focus was on him and he’s still able to deliver, that is a pretty good thing.”
“He’s been working hard to lose a lot of weight, I’m really proud of him,” Conant senior Ben Schols said. “He’s a lot more mobile, he’s dunking everywhere.”
The game was tied at the half.
“We had a day off yesterday and I think we came out sluggish,” Maley said. “We looked tired in the first half, it was weird. In the second half we were running the floor as good as we have all year.”
Davis has been one of the area’s best players since the season began.
“Last year the offense went through Jimmy [Sotos] and I had to find my role,” Davis said. “This year obviously I had to step up with him gone, my whole game. It helps when you have a team that finds you. This team is willing to pass me the ball in the right positions and that makes it easy.”
Schols had 11 points and seven rebounds for the Cougars (7-4). Giovanni Calabrese led McHenry (6-3) with 15 points. Gavin Markgraff and Maki Mohr each added 10 points.
Conant will face the Riverside-Brookfield vs. St. Patrick winner in the second round of the 32-team tournament on Wednesday.
“It’s definitely our goal to win this, but also to just keep getting better,” Davis said. “This is a pretty young group with a lot of guys that didn’t play last year and a new coach with a new system. We are just getting used to everything and I think it is starting to click now.”
Maley coached at St. Laurence last year. He took over the Conant job after longtime coach Tom McCormack retired.
“It’s definitely different,” Davis said. “One had been coaching for 35 years and one is like 35-years-old.”
Schols agrees that things are starting to click for the Cougars. He says the team has more in mind than just winning a holiday tournament.
“I’m hoping we can make a state run, that’s our goal,” Schols said. “We came close two years ago, last year was rough. I think we have a good chance if we shoot the ball well and play through [Davis].”