Basketball, Profiles, Sports

Senior Erykah Davenport turns to next chapter in career

Erykah Davenport

Senior forward Erykah Davenport battles for a loose ball against Florida State. The No. 12 Seminoles beat Miami 91-71 Sunday, Feb. 11, at the Watsco Center. Davenport notched her ninth double-double of the season, finishing with 21 points and 12 rebounds. She finished with 11 double-doubles on the season. Photo credit: Josh White

When three Miami women’s basketball seniors – who also happened to be the team’s three leading scorers – graduated in 2017, Erykah Davenport knew she had big shoes to fill.

During her senior year, she rose to the occasion as the Hurricanes’ captain and best player, doubling her averages from 6.8 to 12.5 points per game and from 4.9 to 8.6 rebounds per game during the 2017-18 season.

Now, Davenport is looking to turn professional, no matter where that leads her. She was not selected in the WNBA Draft Thursday, April 12, but she is aiming to make a training camp roster or possibly sign a contract to play overseas.

“Regardless of the outcome, I’m going to stay hungry and not get discouraged by anything that goes unexpected,” Davenport said. “Delayed does not mean denied.”

The 6-foot-2 forward/center from Decatur, Georgia, brings a mix of skills to the table for any team that chooses to sign her. She’s a versatile player who affects the game on both sides of the floor with her ability to score in the post and protect the paint on defense.

But Davenport’s most unique strength may be in the way she communicates with teammates, something that can’t be found on a stat sheet. This gift might be the one that secures her a spot on a pro team.

“She’s very vocal, and she can see things that others can’t on the court,” rising redshirt senior Khaila Prather said. “Her basketball IQ has improved a lot, and she can pass that on to her teammates and force them to follow and see the plan of what coach wants.”

And for professional teams scouting players, intangible skills matter just as much as athletic talent. Davenport has shown substantial growth in this area from the moment she stepped foot in Coral Gables.

Davenport said that enhancing her mental toughness over the years has improved her physical performance on the court.

“It was just about really being confident in what I’m capable of despite being doubted on all cylinders in my life,” said Davenport, who was a Second Team All-ACC selection this past season.

After initially growing up as a track athlete, Davenport started playing basketball in elementary school. She was lanky, often a bit uncoordinated and faced many struggles making the change. In time, however, she grew more secure in her body of work.

That confidence molded her into the leader of the Canes, culminating in a 21-11 overall record, including 10-6 in the conference and a fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament berth.

In many ways, the team overachieved, finishing sixth in the ACC standings. Much of that success can be attributed to Davenport’s production.

“It’s really been a stepping stone for me, having to be that go-to player,” Davenport said of her time at UM. “Being a leader has become natural to me and is a way for me to express myself on and off the court on the next level. It has become one of the main ingredients in my repertoire.”

And her teammates said this experience gives her the necessary tools to make an impact wherever she elects to take her talents.

“She’s still growing, and that’s a big part of it,” rising senior Emese Hof said of Davenport. “She will always keep pushing. And she is a chameleon. When it comes to any team, she will do what is needed of her, not what she wants to do. She will always put the team first, and that’s one of the best things you can have in a player. She’ll do the dirty work, and she’ll score 20 points.”

Prather said it takes a special determination and passion to hold a lead role on a team. Davenport flourished in it.

“Nothing is getting in her way, at all,” Prather said. “The sky is the limit for her.”

Davenport will graduate May 11 with a degree in broadcast journalism.

“It has not hit me yet,” she said. “It probably won’t hit me until I walk across the stage. It is surreal. I’m just trying to enjoy every moment here on out until I graduate.”

And by that time, Davenport is hoping to be on a pro team roster.

April 16, 2018

Reporters

Isaiah Kim-Martinez

Isaiah Kim-Martinez can be reached on Twitter at @isaiah_km.


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