To review picks 21-100, see: 91-100 (+ methodology), 81-90, 71-80, 61-70, 51-60, 41-50, 31-40, and 21-30.
Time to introduce numbers 20 through 11.
20. Walter Davis: 1974-77, SF/SG, 6’5″, 180, Pineville, NC
- Peak season (1977): 15.5 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 3.3 apg, 2.4 spg, 57.8 FG%, 77.8 FT%, 61.1 TS%
- Career averages (4 years): 15.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 3.4 apg, 53.1 FG%, 77.3 FT%, 56.9 TS%
- Accolades: one 1st-team All-ACC, one 2nd-team All-ACC, one regional All-Tournament team, starter on one Final Four team
As alluded to in the George Lynch write-up, Davis is the only member of this list’s top 20 to not have an All-American honor on his resume. While Davis’s scoring averages did not change much throughout his career (14.3 PPG as a freshman, 16.1 as a sophomore, 16.6 as a junior, 15.5 as a senior), he became a more and more efficient scorer (year-to-year TS%’s of: 53.6, 54.4, 58.3, 61.1). Much like Vince Carter, the upperclassman version of “Sweet D” was an efficient and dangerous secondary/tertiary scoring option (behind Ford and Kupchak). On different teams (like, say, the Forte teams of 2000 and 2001), Carter and Davis could have easily been 20-PPG scorers (albeit with a probable loss in efficiency). Davis was a fantastic passer and defender, rebounded well for a wing, and could affect the game in many ways. His most famous Tar Heel memory is probably the long banker against Duke to cap the ’74 “8 points in 17 seconds” comeback. Davis averaged 19.0 PPG and 7.7 RPG (including 31 and 12 in an opening round win against Wake) as the Heels won the ’75 ACCT, but was somehow left off the All-Tournament (first) team. After scoring 22 points in the ’77 ACCT semis, Davis was limited to 8 minutes in the championship game with a broken index finger. He missed the Round of 32 game, struggled in the Sweet 16 (while adjusting to his taped-together fingers), then busted out in the Elite 8. Despite the injury to his shooting hand, Davis averaged 20 PPG (on 64.5% from the field) and 6.3 RPG over UNC’s final three games (Elite 8 versus Kentucky, and Final Four match-ups against UNLV and Marquette). While injuries eventually caught up to the Heels in ’77, Davis’s postseason run was one of the most heroic and memorable in the program’s history. Like Phil Ford, Davis is missing that elusive national championship to complete his legacy. The lack of a ring wasn’t at all related to his stretch-run performance, however. Continue reading