Jan. 29, 2013
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- If you could put brush to canvas and compose a visual of a student-athlete's progression from "not yet there" to "vital part of the team" over the course of a four-year collegiate career, than Chelsea Davis' story could be that work of art.
An avid drawer since she was six years old and on the verge of graduating this summer with a degree in Graphic Design, Davis' artistic ability is something that has always defined her. But 20 games into her final season with the Florida State women's basketball team, a new definition of Davis has emerged.
She's still that same talented artist, able to visually create something out of nothing, but it's her ability as a basketball player that has everyone talking now. From averaging 2.9 points per game on the Elite Eight team her rookie year to 7.3 her sophomore season, 9.2 last year and now 13.9 each time she takes the court in 2012-13, Davis' progression at FSU has been as beautiful as one of her drawings.
“She’s so important to us on the interior," said FSU coach Sue Semrau, whose Seminoles are 17-3 this season and ranked No. 20 in the most recent national poll. "I think Chelsea is one of the best post players that I’ve ever coached because of her versatility. I really credit her for her hard work and her perseverance that she has had throughout her career."
Over the course of a 52-minute span of clock that included all of the Georgia Tech game and the first 12 minutes of the succeeding contest against Virginia Tech (both of which were FSU victories) this past week, Davis had hit 15 of her 18 shot attempts and wound up leading FSU in scoring in both.
For her efforts she was named the ACC's Player of the Week Monday for the first time during her time FSU -- a symbolic recognition that signifies not just her recent accomplishments but the accomplishment of steady improvement.
"There was always that fight -- especially from the beginning -- to prove yourself," said Davis, the ACC's field-goal percentage leader in conference contests. "It's hard at the beginning but there is always steps to take to go forward. Now I am pushing myself to stay consistent when as a younger player maybe I was thinking and trying to do too much."
Davis credits assistant coach Brooke Wykcoff with helping the game slow down for her since she was that wide-eyed freshman.
She doesn't have to press or try too hard anymore because Wyckoff, a former player for Semrau that turned her time at FSU into a professional basketball career before joining her former coach's staff last season, has helped her eliminate outside distractions. From learning how to better organize her schoolwork to managing her time better, Davis has taken Wyckoff's words of wisdom to heart because she sees the end result and she knows firsthand that it works.
"Brooke has helped me prioritize and make sure I am eating right, sleeping right and taking care of my body," Davis said. "These are all things that are just as important as what you do on the court. I had to learn to make those grownup steps to be able to take my game to the next level."
And that step up couldn't have come at a better time. In need of a strong low-post presence in the wake of Cierra Bravard's graduation, Semrau and the Seminoles turned to Davis.
And she responded.
"Chelsea is so much more focused," senior point guard Morgan Toles said. "She's very consistent and she's very big for us on the inside. She's our only true post player. She has been doing a really good job this year of rebounding and making plays around the basket. I think there are very few people in the ACC that can guard her.
"She can run the floor well, handle contact and knock down free throws so it's a good combination of skills."
Now it's all about finishing strong. Davis' progression has brought her this far but there is still work to be done over the next two months as FSU makes it push towards an ACC Championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
And who knows, maybe FSU's artistic star will help create a March masterpiece before putting down her garnet-and-gold paint brush one last time.