UPDATE: Antoine Davis scored 22 points in a 71-66 loss to Youngstown State in the Horizon League tournament on Thursday, missing a 3-pointer in the final seconds that would have equaled Pete Maravich's NCAA career scoring record. Only an unlikely post-season invite will now give him a shot at the record.
It's a record so robust that it hasn't been threatened in more than half a century. Pete Maravich, the shooting — and shooting and shooting — Louisiana state guard, tucked in 3,667 points in his 1967-70 collegiate career, the most in men's Division I history.
Now an unknown player, Antoine Davis, could break the record at an unknown school, Detroit Mercy. But if he does, his mark will come with some caveats.
Swingman Freeman Williams came closest to Maravich prior to this season, with a not-too-close 3,249 points at Portland State in the 1970s. But with 38 points Tuesday against Purdue Fort Wayne in the Horizon League tournament, Davis has 3,642, just 25 fewer than Maravich's record with at least one game to play.
Next up for the eighth-placed Detroit Mercy is a visit to top-ranked Youngstown state on Thursday night. Youngstown will be a firm favorite so it could be Davis' last chance to get the 26 points he needs to set the record. Detroit Mercy has a losing record and is ranked 200th on most computer rankings, making the team not a contender for the NCAA or other postseason tournaments. (Unlike most professional sports, postseason games count towards college stats.)
Davis, a 6-foot-1 guard, has scored many goals throughout his college career and has averaged more than 23 points per game each season for a total of 25.5 points per game. But Maravich averaged a barely believable 44.2 points per game. How is Davis getting closer to his record?
First off, due to various exceptions and rule changes sparked by the pandemic, Davis was able to play five full seasons at Detroit Mercy, totaling 143 games. Those rules have led to numerous long college careers: The top 40 players in college history in career games all played during the pandemic era.
Maravich was further restricted by playing during a period when freshmen were ineligible, giving him just three seasons to reach his impressive total. Maravich played in just 83 games, less than 60 percent of Davis' overall.
Additionally, Davis racked up 584 extra points with 3-pointers, a shot unavailable to Pistol Pete, who only scored 2 points per basket no matter how long his jumper was. And Maravich loved long shots. In truth, he loved to shoot from anywhere and took 3,166 shots in his career to Davis' 2,961. Still, Maravich passed Davis by .438–.409.
However, say this for Davis. It's not like many other college players are close to Maravich's record. The second-best active player, Taevion Kinsey of Marshall, has 2,623 points, more than 1,000 behind Davis. A word also needs to be said about the modern collegiate game, which is undeniably faster, more athletic, and better defended than the game of the 1960s.
One thing in common: Both players played for their father. Maravich was coached by Press Maravich at LSU while Davis is coached by Mike Davis at Detroit Mercy. No father seems to have told his son to cut down on his shooting.
In contrast, there were few questions when lebron James broke Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's NBA career record that year as he played fewer games and needed fewer shots to pass Abdul-Jabbar.
After LSU, Maravich was drafted third overall and began a 10-year career in the NBA with five All-Star selections and a scoring average of 24.2 points per game.
Davis, who is 24 due to his extended college stint, is unlikely to have a similar pro career. He is not expected to be drafted and the G League or Europe are a more likely destination. This also contributed to his tremendous score because if he were a better pro he might have left school before his eligibility expired. (Maravich stayed through his own senior year because early departure was not an option at the time.)
So while Davis probably won't join Maravich in the Basketball Hall of Fame, if he scores 26 points Thursday, he will put his name in the college record books one place above one of the top scorers in basketball history.