June 14, 2011
This is the first in a series of profiles on former Miami University men’s basketball players who are currently or have recently played professional basketball. Today’s feature is on three-time First-Team All-MAC honoree and Miami Hall of Famer Devin Davis, who is one of just three players to ever eclipse 1,000 rebounds in a career and is the program’s third all-time leading scorer.
When he showed up on the Miami University campus from Miami, Florida for the fall semester in 1993, in a lot of ways it seemed like a completely different world to Devin Davis. Since leaving Miami University, he has had the opportunity to go out and see the world.
“I grew up in the projects of Miami. I was a young black kid coming out of the ghetto … gold teeth, dreadlocks. People (at Miami University) weren’t used to that. For both of us it was different. I was like, ‘Where am I?’ and people were probably looking at me like, ‘What’s he doing here?’ and I was thinking, ‘Yeah, what am I doing here? ’,” Davis chuckled.
It didn’t take long for Davis to make an impact on Miami and for Miami to make an impact on the man called “Double D.”
“I felt like if I could go through that (going to school in a very different environment), I could go through whatever came my way,” said Davis. “It’s all what you make of it.”
During his stellar four-year career at Miami from 1993-97 in which he became just one of a handful of players to advance to postseason play all four years with two NCAA and two NIT appearances to tout, Davis remains one of the most recognizable figures in program history and also evolved into one its most beloved alumni.
“As time went, I came to love Miami to the point where when I finished school, I came back every year at least two or three weeks out of the summer to work out and hang out on campus with Jermaine (Jermaine Henderson was Davis’ college roommate), Coach Coles and some of the players who are there during the summer, and also see friends that I made during the time I was there, who live in Cincinnati,” Davis remarked.
It has been nearly 15 years since he donned the Red and White, and his basketball career has taken him to places all over the globe. He started out playing in the CBA in Idaho for a year before going to Spain for a few months, followed by the Philippines for a few months after the Spanish season had ended. Although he has spent the majority of his professional basketball career in Spain—about nine years—he has also made a stop in Russia, enjoyed another stint in the Philippines and spent this past year in both Mexico and Argentina.
One of the biggest transitions for Davis in his professional career was leaving the country. The first time he played for a team overseas was the first time he had ever been out of the country.
“Where I was from and where I went to college were totally opposite, which prepared me and helped me become a man,” said Davis. “I think being with the coach I had and having Jermaine as a roommate, it showed me a lot. Going to school at Miami, it opened my mind to be able to handle whatever came my way.”
“A lot of people can’t last a month’s time (abroad). They’re homesick, can’t take being away from the family,” continued Davis. “In my eyes, I feel like you have to look ahead. It’s not about now, it’s about later. If they would have pushed just that little bit more and pushed it out, you never know how it could have been for them. Some guys come back to the states and don’t ever get a shot to go back overseas again. Sometimes it can be the worst mistake they make in life instead of just working and fighting through it. You never know what life becomes.”
Although there is not too much of a language barrier with his international teammates, since Davis said most of them speak English, learning to speak a foreign language is one of the cultural experiences he has enjoyed.
“It took about three years (in Spain) to be okay in communicating a little. To be able to go eat and travel and do those sorts of things and get your point across.”
Of the places he has traveled, Davis notes Spain as one of his favorites, partly because he has spent the most time there.
“Once I learned the language and was able to communicate and get around, after being there for so long it was like a second home,” remarked Davis. “The competition was great, the money was great and the living was excellent.”
He has shared his experience with friends and family, bringing them over from time to time to where he is playing to experience the world with him.
“I’ve had a lot of people come over … friends, family,” Davis explained. “I try to get people to get away and see something different in their life. Everyone is not able to experience this. We all need to take that trip once in our life.”
With all the things that Davis has experienced in life, especially through basketball, he remains steadfast to his roots.
“Where I came from, some of my friends weren’t able to make it in life. Jail, debt, or just struggling. They don’t understand what I’ve been through or where I’ve been. A lot of people look up to me and respect that I’ve never changed where I’m from. I always stayed real to where I’m from. They’ve seen me go from one thing to another, and I evolved into a man and they appreciate that.”
“A lot of times when we go through life and we accomplish certain things, or get certain things, or make a certain type of money, we feel like we can’t go back to where we come from. I think that’s the opposite,” said Davis. “I think we need to go back just so people can see you have a chance to make it in life. You have to put your all into it, and things can happen for you.”
His professional career has included all-star games, playoff stints, a championship while in the Philippines along with rebounding and scoring records during his time in Spain, several Player of the Month honors and “making his brand professionally and becoming a known player.”
His career, however, hasn’t been without its road bumps. In 2008, he underwent the first of three major surgeries that kept him out of the game for over two years. Davis was able to get back into basketball in 2010, returning to Spain.
“I went a while without actually playing and it made me realize how much I really missed it,” said Davis. “Getting back into it, it brought me back to why I played and why I always loved it.”
“When I got hurt, I faced things, ‘Ah, he’s older, he’s not the same’,” added Davis. “It’s just one more reason that I’ve got to show people that I still have it in me. I just have to be given the opportunity. Last year I think I proved that. If I get a chance this year, I think I’ll prove it even more.”
A tough, strong-willed, resilient mentality that has become his hallmark.
And how much longer will Davis continue to play ball? “Till the wheels don’t go anymore,” he laughed. “As long as I’m able and can perform at a high level, why not?”