The last time that the IPFW men's basketball coaches ventured up to Chicago and grabbed a young scorer out of one of the many strong high school programs, it worked out pretty well.
St. Joseph High School alum Joe Edwards played in 33 games as a sophomore and is one of the more athletic and talented Mastodon perimeter players heading into this season.
Gage Davis is hoping to follow down a similar path.
The Bolingbrook High School senior recently became the first player to commit to IPFW coach Tony Jasick in the class of 2014.
“He's 6-foot-3 with about a 6-6 wingspan, he's really long,” Raider coach Rob Brost said. “He's athletic and can get to the rim and finish.”
That all sounds good to Mastodon fans, but Brost wasn't finished with the accolades.
“But his best attribute is that he can really score the ball.”
That's a skill that Davis has done better with each passing year under Brost.
“His game has become much more diversified over the past year or so,” Brost explained. “He was always a good shooter (Davis connected on nearly 40 percent of his 3-point shots as a junior), but now he can do things off of the dribble, off the bounce, and his mid-range game has improved.
“Those things have really changed his game from just being a shooter to now being a scorer.”
Brost has sent a number of players to the NCAA Division I level; including a recent guard (Ben Moore) to Southern Methodist and Davis' classmate Prentiss Nixon is getting high-major looks.
Because of that depth, Davis averaged just under 10 points per game last season, but he admits to wanting to do more on the floor this season.
“I'll do whatever it takes,” Davis said. “I can score, but if I need to get assists, I'll do that or if I need to rebound, I'll do that.”
He wants his skill set to continue to evolve and said working on his ball-handling and strength are his priorities over the next 12 months in order to prepare for college basketball.
Brost said that focus and drive is carrying over off of the court, as well.
“Gage is a great kid off of the court,” Brost said. “He's done a great job for us, really leading by example. Obviously, his play speaks for itself, but in particular the last year or two, he's really made improvement in the way that he leads by example in doing the right things both on and off of the floor, and in the classroom, as well.”
All of those characteristics is why Davis had multiple Division I offers (Northern Colorado, Eastern Illinois, Chicago State, among others), and was still being looked at by “Missouri Valley and Horizon League” programs, according to Brost.
The IPFW coaches have recruited other Raider players in the past, and those experiences resonated with Brost.
“I have a strong relationship with (Jasick and IPFW assistant Jon Coffman), and now with (recently hired assistant Ryan Sims),” Brost said. “I really trust those guys and they go about things the right way.
“I deal with a lot of coaches, we've had several high-major players, and a lot of schools aren't like those guys. I really respect what they are doing there and I'm proud to send one of my players there.”
IPFW will have four scholarships to offer for the 2014-15 season, as seniors Michael Kibiloski, Pierre Bland, Luis Jacobo, and Kevin Harden graduate.