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story.lead_photo.caption Strong's Derrion Davis drives to the basket against Smackover last season. Davis, competing for Little Rock's Spartan Blue, will play in the Powerade Peach Jam Tournament this week in Augusta, Georgia. - Photo by Terrance Armstard

Strong’s Derrion Davis didn’t wait until his senior year to get serious about basketball. He’s been serious. But this summer, he’s been really serious.

The 6-foot-3 guard has played on Spartan Blue, a team out of Little Rock. Davis and his team have been burning up the hardwoods, competing in Little Rock, Conway, Atlanta and New Orleans. Last week he played a tournament in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. This week, he leaves for Augusta, Georgia to compete in the Powerade Peach Jam. Next week, it’s off to Kansas for another tournament.

“I been playing all over the country this summer,” he said. “I play with Spartan Blue and they’re on the Powerade circuit.”

Davis said he also attended individual camps at UCA and Louisiana Tech. He plans to attend another camp in Conway in August.

Davis said he’s always played ball in the summer. But he’s never been this busy.

“This is my first time actually playing on a big AAU team. This is my senior year. I just want the best for me,” he said. “I’m going to work hard because I want to go to college and play basketball. That’s my dream. I’m going to work hard to do it and I’m going to make it.”

Davis averaged 23.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists for a Bulldogs’ team that went 7-19 last season. Showing college coaches what he can do against elite competition will be critical to his future.

“They know I can shoot it so I’m trying to show them that I can create space to get off my shot. I can go to the rack and finish over the rim. That’s something I’ve been working on this summer and something I’ve improved on,” said Davis, who said it was important to prove he could play, not only against elite players, but with them as well.

“I come from a small town. Not many players down here, right now, that can play. I want to get out of Strong and see what the talent is like outside of Strong. When I go play, I can play with them. I just want to play around more talent.”

Playing against Division I caliber players only enhanced his skills.

“I feel like it’s helping me mentally,” he said. “I’m 6-3. I’m playing against 6-11, 6-10, all of that. You don’t see all of that around Strong, so it’s definitely helped me improve on my game, finishing high over the rim.”

At a sinewy 190 pounds, Davis has played a huge role in Strong’s football program for the past two years. As a senior and with his basketball future staring at him, he will have to make an important decision this summer.

“I don’t know if I’m going to play yet,” he said of the upcoming football season. “I honestly don’t know. It’s kind of tough. I had an accident this summer in my car. My leg has been hurting me, so I don’t know. If it’s not right by the time they start, I won’t play.”

While the injury plays a role in the decision, he’s also trying to figure out what’s best for his college basketball aspirations.

“I’m worried about basketball. This has been my dream since I was little. I’m focusing on it, right now,” said Davis, who believes his football friends with respect whatever decision he makes.

“They talk to me about playing. But they’ll go with my decision. They understand what I’m doing and where I’m coming from with my decision.”

He said he will decide on football when football practice begins. For now, it’s another week, which means another basketball tournament. For Davis, that ain’t a problem at all.

“I just love being around basketball. Basketball is what I do. I love it so much,” he said. “I just love going out and playing every night and just smiling, my family watching me play. That’s what I enjoy doing and I enjoy working hard at it every day.”

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