Former Florida Atlantic guard Johnell Davis transferring to Arkansas

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Former Florida Atlantic star Johnell Davis has committed to Arkansas, he announced on social media Wednesday.

Davis — FAU’s leading scorer the last two seasons, who also led the Owls to the program’s first Final Four in 2022-23 — has one season of eligibility remaining. He was the best unsigned player left in The Athletic’s transfer portal rankings, at No. 2 overall.

The 6-foot-4 combo guard averaged 18.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game this season, while shooting 41.4 percent from 3 and 85.7 percent from the free-throw line.

Davis will always be remembered as part of the Florida Atlantic core that made school history. Those Owls famously went 31-3, en route to Conference USA’s regular-season and conference titles. Then, as a No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament, Dusty May’s team advanced to the Final Four, before losing to San Diego State on Lamont Butler’s buzzer-beating jump shot.

Last offseason, basically that entire core returned — including May, who turned down multiple high-profile coaching offers. But the Owls struggled with consistency this season amidst a jump to the American Athletic Conference; they ultimately lost their first NCAA Tournament game to Northwestern in overtime. After the season’s end, much of that core departed the program, including May, who left to become Michigan’s head coach.

Davis was an early candidate to follow May to Michigan, like fellow Owl Vlad Goldin did earlier this offseason, but ultimately chose Arkansas. The Razorbacks hired John Calipari from Kentucky earlier this offseason, and have been rebuilding their roster — largely thanks to an outsized NIL operation — since his arrival.

Arkansas has already signed former Tennessee center Jonas Aidoo and former Kentucky big Zvonimir Ivisic, as well as three members of the 2024 high school class Calipari was set to bring to Lexington: four-star wing Karter Knox (No. 20 overall), four-star wing Billy Richmond (No. 22), and four-star guard Boogie Fland (No. 26).

But Davis is the best of the bunch: a proven 3-level scorer who should be this team’s alpha from the get-go.

He was as key as anyone to FAU finishing with KenPom’s No. 22 adjusted offensive efficiency ranking last season. Per KenPom, Davis took a staggering 27.1 percent of FAU’s shots when he was on the court — which certainly contributed to his turnover rate, something he’ll have to tighten up next season — but his overall efficiency rarely suffered.

Arkansas fans, if you’re looking for a taste of what Davis can be at his best, just pull up the highlights from Florida Atlantic’s Dec. 23rd win over Arizona, in one of the best games from all of last season. That night, Davis out-dueled Pac-12 Player of the Year Caleb Love and finished with a season-best 35 points on 15-of-27 shooting. (He also had nine rebounds, three assists, and three steals that game.)

Expect he and Aidoo to be a formidable pick-and-roll combination, too, although it’ll be interesting to monitor how Davis fares against SEC-caliber talent on a nightly basis. Still, this is a gigantic pickup for Calipari and Arkansas, and one that dramatically raises the ceiling on what’s possible in Fayetteville next season.

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(Photo: Ethan Miller / Getty Images)

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