Crim-Davis’ pivotal role in Valley’s repeat bid
Published 10:27 am Wednesday, November 22, 2023
The Valley Rams began their quest for back-to-back state titles on Tuesday against Bullock County. After finishing 33-0 and winning the 5A state championship last season, Valley is on a quest to make more history this season. A key aspect of that run is going to be a brand-new starting point guard.
Ian Crim-Davis came off the bench last season for the Rams and still played a large role on the team. Valley coach Marshon Harper has even said on multiple occasions that Crim-Davis would have started on any other team in the state.
Crim-Davis may be new to the starting lineup, but he is no stranger to the rest of the starters. Cam Dooley, Jay Harper, Brandon Thomas and Jayden Thomas make up the rest of the starting lineup for the Rams.
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The starting five has a few new additions compared to last season, but all five of the players have played beside each other their whole lives. That relationship with the other starters should make the next step that much easier for Crim-Davis.
“I think our chemistry is going to be unmatched,” Crim-Davis said. “We’ve been playing with each other since we were about in the fourth grade. It’s just been a lot of years learning how to play with each other. The plays we run and the things we do, it’s just like it’s embedded in our DNA. I think that’s going to give us an advantage over a lot of teams.”
Crim-Davis has spent time on the court with each of his running mates, but they are all also close friends outside of basketball.
“Our relationship has just progressed as a whole,” Crim-Davis. “It’s all about trust. When we go out there, we’re just a team. We don’t rely on one man. Nobody is selfish, we all pass the ball. We want our friends and our teammates to score. It’s just a brotherhood.”
Crim-Davis is expected to have an expanded role this season as the starting point guard, but he is not looking to be a different player. Crim-Davis believes that playing his game will help the team more in the long run.
“I expect my role to maintain,” Crim-Davis said. “Guarding the ball, bringing the intensity, playing hard defense, but as a starter I’ve got to come a little harder. We’re all pretty much going into the same boat, we’ve just got to win, play hard and people are going to have to step up.”
Last season, the Rams were led by Jamarious Martin, or “Lil man”, at point guard. Martin was one of the leaders in assists per game in the entire state.
Crim-Davis knows that Martin’s shoes are going to be tough to fill, but he does not plan to focus on becoming Martin. Crim-Davis plays the game differently, and he expects the dynamics of the team to be different.
“We will never have another lil man,” Crim-Davis said. “Lil man had the ball on a string. He was that guy. Jayden Thomas and Jay Harper, they’re going to help with the assists too. Lil man was ball-dominant. We’re just going to facilitate. We like to just move around, cut and get the ball off. We’re going to continue to get each other open.”
Crim-Davis expects the flow of the offense to be very different this season. Martin largely handled the facilitation of the offense last season. This season, it is going to be on every player to be a facilitator.
The Rams’ offense is going to be more fast-paced this season. Valley is focusing more on quick cuts and ball movement.
“We’re going to be more about cutting, getting open and just moving the ball,” Crim-Davis said.
Crim-Davis may not play the game the same way as Martin, but there are several aspects to his game that he believes could help make the team even better this season.
Martin’s facilitating was unmatched, but Crim-Davis brings his own skillset to the floor. At six feet, Crim-Davis brings a lot of size on defense and intensity on defense. Crim-Davis is also a vocal leader at practice and during games.
Crim-Davis helps the Rams to make practices more intense than the actual games. Valley goes at each other during practice, but the players have a bond that allows them to compete with each other and still maintain chemistry afterward.
“You’ve got to practice hard and go at it every day,” Crim-Davis said. “When we go at each other and play to the best of our abilities, it just makes everything go easily. It’s very hostile in that gym. You don’t want to let the man in front of you whoop you. Everything is a competition.
“We stay together all the time. We’re just a family. We can fight all day and go at it but at the end of the day we are greater than me.”
Crim-Davis has a bright future ahead of him playing football at the next level. Valley coach Marshon Harper sees that talent in Crim-Davis and expects a lot from the senior.
“He said my role is going to be important,” Crim-Davis said. “He wants me to be all-around. He wants me to facilitate, play defense, rebound the ball and score the ball.”
The Rams are coming into the season with lofty expectations. Valley returns several key players from a historical team. Crim-Davis believes that the expectations should be there, and the players just have to not beat themselves.
“The key for us is to not get big-headed,” Crim-Davis said. “We need to stay in our zone and practice hard. We’re going to have a target on our back this whole season. As long as we all combine as one we’re going to go back-to-back.”