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Detroit Mercy 'exploring' giving Antoine Davis another chance to pass Pete Maravich

Detroit Mercy could still accept a potential bid to the CBI, which, if accepted, would almost assure Davis passes Maravich as the NCAA's all-time leading scorer.

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 21: Antoine Davis #0 of the Detroit Mercy Titans brings the ball up court during the game against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Fifth Third Arena on December 21, 2022 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Detroit Mercy's Antoine Davis is just three points shy of Pete Maravich's all-time NCAA scoring record. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) (Michael Hickey via Getty Images)

Detroit Mercy still isn’t ready to call off its star player’s pursuit of one of college basketball’s most hallowed records.

Athletic director Robert Vowels said Tuesday that his school continues to weigh participating in a lower-tier postseason event to give Antoine Davis one final opportunity to take down Pete Maravich’s all-time NCAA scoring record.

“At this time, the University of Detroit Mercy men's basketball team has not been invited or accepted any postseason invitations,” Vowels said in a statement. “We are exploring all factors if a bid was extended, but until then, we will not have any comments on the matter."

Davis’ record chase seemed to end in the Horizon League quarterfinals last Thursday night when he missed a hurried pull-up 3-pointer in the final seconds of Detroit Mercy’s 71-66 loss to Youngstown State. That left Davis at 3,664 career points, three shy of the 3,667 that the legendary Pistol Pete piled up in just three years at LSU.

While Detroit Mercy won’t earn a spot in the NCAA tournament or NIT because of its 14-19 record, head coach Mike Davis did not rule out playing in the pay-to-play College Basketball Invitational to extend his son’s career one more game. The elder Davis said Thursday night that he “would definitely accept any invitation” but added that the decision “would be more up to the players.”

To play in the CBI, Detroit Mercy would have to receive an invitation and pay a $27,500 entry fee, according to Gazelle Group president Rick Giles, whose organization runs the event. Giles told Yahoo Sports on Friday that Detroit Mercy was “definitely under consideration,” a point underscored by the tweet sent by the CBI’s Twitter account last Thursday night.

The legitimacy of Antoine Davis’ pursuit of Maravich was already a subject of fervent debate even before Detroit Mercy began exploring playing in the CBI. Many have argued Davis can’t be college basketball’s rightful scoring king, that his feat would come with a super-sized asterisk. After all, Davis has needed 144 games to approach what Maravich did in 83.

Maravich played at LSU in an era when freshmen weren’t yet varsity-eligible. For three years, he averaged an unfathomable, almost mythic 44.2 points per game despite not having the benefit of a shot clock or 3-point line. Because of rules changes prompted by COVID-19 disruptions, Davis received an NCAA waiver allowing him to play five full seasons at Detroit Mercy. He tallied 25.4 points per game for a struggling Titans program that has posted losing records in all but one of his five seasons.

If Davis broke the record in the Horizon League tournament, it merely would have been an apples-to-oranges comparison to Maravich. If Davis breaks it in a first-round CBI game, it will at best feel artificial.

Last Thursday night, after he fell three points shy of Maravich, Davis fielded a question from a reporter about playing in the CBI. He said he "wouldn't have a problem" with it, but he didn't sound overly excited about the possibility.

"Everybody wants to get to the NCAA tournament," Davis said. "Nobody wants to go and play in the — no disrespect to CBIs and NITs."