Before Jordan Poole sank his amazing buzzer-beating three to bring Michigan from behind to beat Houston, Cougars senior Devin Davis was at the line with four seconds on the clock and his team up two points. A make would’ve meant Michigan could do no better than force overtime; two makes would’ve iced the game and pushed Houston into the Sweet 16. Davis missed both. The shot of him splayed out in the lane while Michigan players celebrate over him is a picture of absolute agony.
Eleven days ago, the Houston Chronicle profiled Davis in a piece headlined “Difficult journey has happy ending for UH’s Devin Davis.” It has been a bumpy road: before coming to Houston, Davis was dismissed from Indiana after he was caught in possession of marijuana, and that manages to be, at best, the second-most significant challenge of the first half of Davis’s college career:
During his sophomore year, Davis was hit by a car driven by one of his teammates. Both had been drinking. Davis suffered a head injury and was in a coma for several days.
“I think about that a lot, being in that hospital bed after I woke up,” he said. “Seeing my mom next to me, seeing other people who also went through terrible brain injuries and were maybe never going to walk again.
“It was really tough, but I still believed then that I would play again, that I could still do it.”
He missed the entire season and took a redshirt for the year.
Davis wound up at Odessa Junior College, and was spotted in a junior college showcase game by Houston’s Kelvin Sampson. After joining Houston for his junior season, he suffered two fluke injuries requiring surgery. This is the year it all came together, and now it’s over. The “happy ending” of Davis’s journey was a berth in the NCAA tournament, and his prominent role in making that happen. Here’s the aftermath:
So, yeah, Davis was devastated. After the game his teammates talked about the kinds of things you say to a guy going through such exquisite pain and regret:
A shitty thing about competitive sports is, wherever there’s a hero there is also a goat, and the scope of the goat’s misery can usually be measured in inverse proportion to the hero’s brilliance. Jordan Poole produced the greatest moment in Michigan basketball since at least Trey Burke’s 30-footer to force overtime against Kansas in the 2013 Sweet 16; Devin Davis is the central figure in the most heartbreaking loss for Houston since, what, 1983? And that’s it! That’s the end of his college basketball career, right there. Man, that just blows.