The Dominion Post  

Relationship with Nichols brought guard to WVU

Created on:   Wed, Nov 15, 2017   9:55 PM

Last modified:   Wed, Nov 15, 2017   9:54 PM

The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — At one point in her life, Naomi Davenport was set to be part of the 2015 Michigan recruiting class that was ranked 14th in the country.

Chester Nichols was the reason why.

“I have a history with him,” Davenport said after the 12th-ranked WVU women’s basketball team knocked off Sacramento State, 101-47, on Nov. 14. “He’s been recruiting me since the seventh grade.”

The 6-foot junior guard from Cincinnati is now making an immediate impact with the Mountaineers (2-0).

In her first two games, Davenport has two double-doubles and averages 19.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.

“I’m not surprised,” WVU senior forward Teana Muldrow said. “I knew what she could do. I watched her all summer and I’ve seen the work she’s put in.”

Again, Nichols — WVU’s associate head coach, who was an assistant at Michigan from 2012-’14 — was the reason for Davenport’s arrival in Morgantown.

As the story goes, Davenport did not enroll at Michigan. Instead, she opted to enroll in junior college, at Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Texas.

Michigan “placed me there,” Davenport said. “I was still set to sign with them up until last December.”

That’s when she decided to take another look at her options and reopened her recruiting process.

“When I opened up my recruitment, coach Chester was down there the next day in my coach’s office,” said Davenport, who was named a unanimous junior-college first-team all-American last season for helping lead Trinity Valley to consecutive national runner-up finishes. “He already had a plan laid out for me, as far as classes to take and when I was going to enroll and all of this and that. That really opened up my eyes again.”

And it opened the door for Davenport to sign with the Mountaineers.

Her first two games came with some mixed reviews.

Offensively, Davenport has been exactly what WVU has needed. The Mountaineers are playing without injured star guard Tynice Martin (foot) until January, and Davenport has helped to fill a scoring and rebounding role.

“Offense has never been a problem for me,” she said. “I’ve always been a bigger guard, so I could always power my way through a lot of times.”

On defensive is where WVU head coach Mike Carey needs to see improvement out of Davenport.

“It doesn’t look good for her to score 20 and the person she’s guarding gets 25,” Carey said. “She’s got to learn on defense. Now, she wants to get better, so she’ll get better. She’s a good person and she works hard, but she can score the ball. She probably does power moves in the post better than anyone we got.”

Muldrow, who scored 57 points through two games, said there would be no limit to Davenport’s potential, if she learned to play better defense.

“Her potential is through the roof. Only she can stop herself,” Muldrow said. “When she finally gets the hang of things and understands that defense is the key to winning games, I feel like she’ll be unstoppable.”