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Jeff Seidel | Detroit Free Press | January 18, 2016

Wollenman, Davis make up the Michigan State odd couple

  Tom Izzo says Colby Wollenman (left) is a personal basketball tutor for Deyonta Davis.

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- They are the odd couple of Michigan State basketball.

Colby Wollenman and Deyonta Davis bang against each other every day at practice and room together on the road.

Wollenman, a walk-on from Big Horn, Wyo., has spent time working on a ranch. Davis, a McDonald's All-American from Muskegon, loves video games and watching TV.

Wollenman is a fifth-year senior who seems destined to become a doctor; Davis is a true freshman who seems destined to end up in the NBA.

Wollenman is confident and articulate, the best example of a pure student athlete that you could ever find in the NCAA. While finishing his final season, he has been traveling around the country interviewing at med schools. Davis is shy and painfully quiet. When he arrived at MSU, he would walk around campus, head down, eyes averted, trying to shrink from attention, even though he stands 6 feet 10.

But their lives have intertwined this season in a most meaningful, profound, life-altering way.

"It is the odd couple," associate head coach Dwayne Stephens said. "You say there is no way these guys have a lot in common. But when you go to their room on the road and those two are in there laughing, watching TV or talking, that's where Colby has helped him come out of his shell."

Related: Wisconsin upsets Michigan State in B1G action

That's the great thing about college basketball. A walk-on can teach a McDonald's All-American. Knowledge is passed through a program, from player to player, and a fifth-year senior on the scout team can play a vital role, even when he's not on the court, helping a young freshman grow and mature.

Wollenman "is like a personal basketball tutor to DD," MSU coach Tom Izzo said. "Every day, DD has to guard him, and Colby helps him through his assignments and the learning process. Unbelievable job. If he never scores another point, he is going to be very valuable to not only me, but very, very valuable to Deyonta Davis."

In college basketball, fans get obsessed with RPI and quality wins and recruiting rankings and national polls. You forget these freshmen are kids, really, and the growth off the court can lead to a profound impact on it.

"From the day Deyonta walked onto campus to now, I can't even describe how much of a change there has been," Stephens said. "Give Colby a lot of credit. He helps him every day. Colby is the ultimate team guy. He's been trying to help Deyonta since the day he got on campus."

At first, Davis wouldn't talk, not even to his teammates, unless he was spoken to. And the truth is, Wollenman was a little unsure how it would work when they were became roommates on the road.

"He was just unbelievably quiet at first," Wollenman said. "It's like, however quiet you are thinking he was, he was quieter than that. I mean, it was like you couldn't get him to talk. It was unbelievable. But he has come so far. He'll be hanging out with us, cracking jokes."

Muskegon coach Keith Guy has seen a dramatic change in this player that he coached for three seasons. "He's more vocal, and he's still pretty quiet," Guy said. "He doesn't like to go to parties. He doesn't like to be around a lot of people. But he has fun. He's maturing, there's no doubt about it."

After the Spartans' 76-59 loss to Iowa on Thursday night, Izzo said Davis' minutes would go up "drastically." Davis has unmistakable talent. He can get up the floor in a blink, and he has unteachable instincts around the basket.

"His ceiling is unbelievably high," Wollenman said. "He does some little things better than probably anyone I've ever played with, almost anyone I've ever seen. He gets the ball up definitely quicker than anyone I've ever played with, probably anybody I've ever seen. He catches the ball, and it's in the rim. It's crazy."

Davis is still learning MSU's defense. There are times when he is not in the right place at the right time on switches and screens. But his pure talent can make up for it.

Clearly, he is more comfortable on this team, around these players and coaches, and some of the credit goes back to a future doctor.

Who is already making house calls.


This article was written by Jeff Seidel from Detroit Free Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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