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Logan • Two years as a missionary might have made Kyle Davis more mature. But it didn't do him any favors in the weight room.
In his first summer at Utah State, he had a lengthy to-do list from strength coach Dave Scholz, and the 6-foot-7 Davis worked through a lot of soreness to get it done.
"Now I'm just trying to get the touch back," he said. "But summer was a grind trying to get back in shape and get your body loose after two years of never really playing competitive basketball."
The Aggies' oldest newcomer, Davis will be thrust into a substantial role early after an injury to junior Ben Clifford. Utah State needs its sophomore, who came to Logan by way of Alta and Southern Utah, to shake off his rust quickly.
Davis knows what to expect from the Division I level he's already had a freshman season. He averaged 8.5 points and 5.3 rebounds per game with the Thunderbirds in 2010-11, averages that rose as he settled into a more comfortable role during conference play.
He's no stranger to being the new guy: Davis did it his senior year at Alta, and then did it again at SUU. It helps, he said, to be entering a welcoming program.
"The culture here is if you work hard and you lay it out on the line, you're gonna fit in nicely," Davis said. "Work hard and good things happen."
Davis' effort has been noted by his longer-tenured teammates. Both Preston Medlin and Jarred Shaw have said he's stood out this summer and in practice.
"He can do some stuff that will make you say wow sometimes," Shaw said. "I think he'll surprise some people."
New guys now the old guys
The Aggies welcomed several transfers and junior college players last season, including Shaw, Spencer Butterfield and TeNale Roland.
This fall, all three are seniors. And it's weird to be the vets of the group, they said.
"I've never had this role to play before," Shaw said. "It's definitely a challenge, but I'm trying to lead by example."
Having five scholarship newcomers on the roster, some of last year's group is being counted on to teach the new crowd the ropes: How to practice, how to prepare, how to take care of themselves. With only one senior graduating after the season, there were a lot of leaders to take that on.
Butterfield said this year's roster, in that respect, seems to be coming along faster than last season.
"We feel more confident this year," Butterfield said. "Our practice habits are a lot better, we've got more leadership this year. This group has just been a lot more fun. We're a lot more ahead of where we were last year. "
Butterfield said his hip, a problematic pain for him at the end of last season, has improved after offseason surgery. ... The Aggies have gotten two verbal commitments for the 2014 class in the last week: Henry Bolton, a 6-foot-1 guard from St. Andrew's School (R.I.) and Chris Smith, a 6-4 sophomore guard at Yuba College.