Delaware’s Jyáre Davis enters portal as graduate transfer

BY DANIEL STEENKAMER
Managing Sports Editor

Delaware’s 73-58 Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) men’s basketball quarterfinal defeat to Hofstra University earlier this month was a decisive loss. 

The Blue Hens just suffered another setback – this one with major ramifications for 2024-25, Delaware’s last season in the CAA before joining Conference USA (CUSA).

Senior forward Jyáre Davis, the Newark native who originally joined Delaware by transferring from Providence College, announced on Tuesday his decision to enter the transfer portal as a graduate transfer upon completing Delaware coursework this summer.

Davis was the Most Outstanding Player of the 2021-22 CAA tournament in which the Blue Hens beat the University of North Carolina Wilmington in the league final to advance to the NCAA tournament. In the first round of the big dance that year, which marked Delaware’s first such appearance since 2013-14, Davis had 17 points and six rebounds in 31 minutes versus Villanova University. 

Delaware’s second-leading scorer against the Wildcats that afternoon, Andrew Carr, transferred to Wake Forest University in May 2022. Carr and the Demon Deacons host Appalachian State University in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) first round Wednesday night.  

Davis, meanwhile, appears destined to finish his Delaware career as the 2021-22 CAA Rookie of the Year and a three-time All-CAA selection. He earned All-Rookie honors in 2022, conference Third Team in 2023 and Second Team this year.

“The University of Delaware has been an incredibly special place not only in my heart, but in my family’s heart,” Davis said in a statement posted to social media to announce his transfer. “I’ve grown up attending Delaware football and basketball games, calling the 302 home.”

Davis, who attended Sanford School in Hockessin, Delaware just 30 minutes from the Bob Carpenter Center, alluded to his desire to play in the upper echelon of college basketball in his farewell to the Hens.

“Given the changing landscape of college athletics, I’ve decided to enter the transfer portal looking for an opportunity to challenge myself at the highest level possible,” Davis said. “I plan on graduating from the University of Delaware this summer and will have one year of eligibility remaining.”

Davis joins Carr, Jameer Nelson Jr. (TCU), Ithiel Horton (Pittsburgh) and Justyn Mutts (Virginia Tech) as Delaware players under head coach Martin Ingelsby who have departed the Blue Hens in favor of power-conference-level opportunities.

Andrew Carr, now at Wake Forest averaging 13.2 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, slams down a dunk during Delaware’s CAA final victory in 2022. Patrick LaPorte/THE REVIEW

Also in Ingelsby’s tenure, Delaware lost star guard Ryan Daly in a transfer to Saint Joseph’s University (SJU), though Daly enjoyed family ties to SJU through his father and grandfather’s playing days with the Hawks. As a Blue Hen, Daly won 2016-17 CAA Rookie of the Year after leading all league freshmen in scoring and rebounding. He is now an assistant men’s basketball coach at the University at Albany.

Daly’s April 2018 transfer preceded the NCAA’s 2021 adoption of an interim policy permitting name, image and likeness (NIL) monetization by student-athletes. This NIL ability, brought about by mounting legal challenges to the NCAA’s amateurism-backed economic model and combined with lax transfer eligibility rules, has created an atmosphere rife with tampering and recruiting inducements centered on pay-for-play cloaked in NIL agreements. 

The growing influence and transparency of money in college basketball player retention has, in turn, limited the ability of mid-majors such as Delaware to sustain roster development and cohesion. As much as the high rate of transfers moving nationally assisted the Blue Hens in landing Davis in the first place, along with former La Salle University guard Christian Ray and former University of North Dakota guard Jalun Trent, the net result for Delaware in this era of student-athlete mobility has been negative. 

And so the churn begins again for Ingelsby. 

Delaware, which loses Ray and Trent to expired eligibility this offseason, is reportedly interested in Loyola (Maryland) transfer point guard Deon Perry, St. Thomas Aquinas (Division II) wing James Patterson and Canisius guard Tre Dinkins among current portal entrants.

To solidify the Hens’ 2023-24 roster and better surround Davis after Nelson’s departure last April, Ingelsby brought in transfers Gerald Drumgoole Jr. (Albany), Trent, Tyler Houser (Virginia Military Institute), Niels Lane (Florida) and Zion Bethea (St. Francis Brooklyn).

Davis’ move elsewhere this summer inflames Delaware’s need to recruit help for Houser in the forward and center area. The Blue Hens’ top rebounder in 2023-24 was Ray, whose 8.8 boards per game paced the CAA.

Ray and Davis were Delaware’s only two players in the top 25 in rebounding in the conference.

Christian Ray (above) will be one of the key losses for Delaware this offseason after he led the conference in rebounds per game (8.8). Larissa Veronica Heather/THE REVIEW

The Hens’ 2025-26 leap to CUSA could provide some competitive relief for men’s basketball in regards to facing programs in CUSA that all also have to coexist with Football Bowl Subdivision football absorbing resources in the same athletic department. In the CAA, football-less schools Hofstra, 2023-24 league champ College of Charleston, UNCW and Drexel University especially enjoy the distinction of men’s basketball ranking as the highest-profile team on campus. 

Conference USA owns No. 95 Louisiana Tech as its highest KenPom-ranked men’s basketball member entering this NCAA tournament. The CAA can counter with No. 98 Charleston, followed closely by Hofstra and UNCW, which also appear inside the top 120. Thereafter in the ratings reside CUSA’s 2023-24 tourney winner Western Kentucky (132), Liberty University (138) and Sam Houston State (142).

While Delaware’s move to CUSA constitutes an obvious climb in football with the FBS reclassification ending a 45-year run in the Football Championship Subdivision, the recruiting upside of the conference switch in basketball is yet to be seen. In general, the Blue Hens figure to benefit from the promised exposure of ditching the CAA’s FloSports media rights deal in favor of CUSA’s partnership with ESPN and CBS Sports.

As of March 19, Delaware’s lone 2024 commitment from the high school ranks is from Macon Emory, the Perkiomen School forward and brother of current Blue Hen sophomore forward Houston Emory.

In the season-ending loss to Hofstra in Washington, D.C., Davis’ last game as a Hen, the 6-foot-7-inch big man saw a healthy dose of double-teams by the Pride’s defense. Delaware concluded the elimination game with 15 turnovers committed, four of which came from Davis, tying for the team’s worst with sophomore guard Cavan Reilly.

Hofstra had just six giveaways on the night and scored 13 points off of Delaware turnovers. The Pride, however, is also feeling the portal sting with the impending transfer of its quarterfinal win’s leading scorer, junior Darlinstone Dubar. Dubar and fellow guards Tyler Thomas and Jaquan Carlos combined for 61 points to outscore Delaware by themselves.

Dubar (#1) and Davis (#13) have both hit the transfer portal since the season’s end. Larissa Veronica Heather/THE REVIEW

“I thought those possessions where we were getting a little crowded and jammed up, [we] weren’t able to take advantage of how they were guarding the ball screen,” Ingelsby said after the loss to Hofstra. “That’s a really good defensive team that’s aggressive and active. 

“The possessions that were good and efficient, we were moving, we were cutting, we were making the extra pass. Some of the ones I think they stalled us on the offensive end, and we didn’t trust it as much.”

With Davis headed for the door unless he were to withdraw from the transfer portal unexpectedly, Delaware must identify the next player whom it can trust in those spots, whether he is in the locker room now or afloat in that ocean-deep portal.