Deshaun Davis may be one of the most important members of Auburn's defense on the football field, but the redshirt senior linebacker thinks he could provide some value for a different Auburn team.
As the 16th-ranked Auburn basketball team prepares for a run in the SEC Tournament this week in St. Louis, with its first game Friday at noon against either Texas A&M or Alabama, Davis is making a lighthearted plea to coach Bruce Pearl for a spot in the rotation.
"I just pray every night I get the opportunity," Davis said Tuesday. "I feel like I can help them win the SEC Tournament."
Auburn is the No. 1 seed in the tournament after going wire to wire to win the league and claim a share of the title -- the program's first since 1999 and third ever -- with Tennessee after both schools finished SEC play 13-5 overall. The Tigers beat the Vols head-to-head to earn the top overall seed in St. Louis this week.
Auburn out to prove it's a 'legit team,' not just some 'flash in the pan'
Auburn did that despite playing shorthanded throughout the year. The Tigers were without center Austin Wiley and forward Danjel Purifoy all season after the university sat both amid concerns about their eligibility stemming from the FBI's probe into the criminal influence of money on college basketball, which resulted in then-associate head coach Chuck Person being arrested on Sept. 26 and charges with six federal crimes.
Then, last month, Auburn lost one of its most versatile players and best interior defender in sophomore forward Anfernee McLemore, who dislocated his ankle and broke his tibia during the team's loss at South Carolina on Feb. 17. That left Auburn with an eight-man rotation down the stretch.
While those losses left Auburn without three front court players, Davis thinks he could provide some backcourt relief for Bruce Pearl's team in the postseason.
"Jared (Harper) gets tired sometimes," Davis said of Auburn's point guard and All-SEC second-team selection. "I feel like I could come in and Kyrie (Irving) it a little bit, but (Pearl) never wants to give me an opportunity. I told him I got one more year and I'll probably stay around after the draft next year and give him a good couple minutes."
Davis has some experience on the hardwood. During his high school career at Vigor, Davis lettered in basketball, as well as football and baseball. The 5-foot-11, 246-pounder could, theoretically, provide an interesting option at guard for the Tigers -- should they ever ask for his help.
That day hasn't come, much to the chagrin of Davis, who has been in attendance at Auburn Arena for most of the Tigers' home games with plenty of his football teammates. The two teams share a pretty good relationship, he said, and support each other during games and around campus.
The good new for Davis, who joked that he dropped about 15 pounds this spring to get into basketball shape, is that Auburn's football team adjourns for spring break after Thursday's practice--just in time, conveniently, for Auburn basketball's run at the SEC Tournament this weekend.
"I got to keep tweeting (Pearl)," Davis said. "Send him a couple more videos, show him my step-back jumper and maybe I can get in."
@coachbrucepearl [?] [?] [?] I'm here if you need me [?] [?] [?] https://t.co/q4rrgj0OTL-- [?] [?]Deshaun Davis[?] (@_Davis_Boy12) March 7, 2018
Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.