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PAW feature on Douglas Davis.

I wrote a profile for the latest Princeton Alumni Weekly about junior guard Douglas Davis. Longer versions of quotes from Davis, Tiger head coach Sydney Johnson and Hun head man Jonathan Stone that were cut from the print version due to space constrictions are included at the conclusion. - JS

Davis ’12, Tigers aim to be ‘unforgettable’
By Jon Solomon

On an early December walk to Jadwin Gym before the men’s basketball game against St. Joseph’s, junior guard Douglas Davis had time to listen to one song. He selected “Unforgettable,” by the Canadian rapper Drake. The chorus repeated confidently:

“And when you get to talkin’ ’bout the greatest, I just really hope that you’d think of me / ’cause I’m tryin’ to be unforgettable.”

The catchy cut was just long enough to get Davis to the locker room from his dorm, where he’d completed the more subdued portion of his pregame routine, praying and reading the Bible.

When game time rolled around, the 5-foot-10-inch sociology major scored 12 points, including three 3-pointers, leading the Tigers to a 74–65 victory. Statistically speaking, it was an average night. But Davis’ consistent scoring over the past three years has put him in a rare position: By early February, he could become the first Tiger since Kit Mueller ’91 to exceed 1,000 points before his senior year.

Quick and fearless, the diminutive Davis has a knack for finding open shots, even when guarded by much taller defenders. In his debut against Central Michigan in 2008, he scored 25 points, breaking a first-game record for Princeton freshmen. He went on to become the first Tiger freshman to lead the team in scoring. But late in games that season, he often was replaced by stronger defenders.

Head coach Sydney Johnson ’97 says he has challenged Davis “to be the best player on the floor, no matter what the situation is,” and in the last two years, Davis has added more dimensions to his game. Last summer, he worked extensively on footwork, training alongside his brother, DeOliver, a freshman football player at Lafayette.

Fast feet and active hands have kept Davis on the floor in key defensive situations this season. He’s averaging a career-high 36.6 minutes, and his scoring is up to 14.2 points per game. Through Dec. 12, Princeton, the preseason Ivy League favorite, was 7–3.

When Davis committed to Princeton in May 2008, the Tigers were coming off a miserable 6–23 season. Davis, then a senior at the nearby Hun School, made a leap of faith with hopes of turning around the storied program.

His choice came down to two Ivy schools, Princeton and Columbia. “I remember calling Coach [Johnson] — I was proctoring a study hall, and I called him during our break to say, ‘Coach, I’m coming!’” Davis recalls with a laugh. “He didn’t expect me to say that. He just wanted to know how my day went.”

As practice began that fall, it was clear to both the Princeton coaching staff and Davis’ teammates that the newcomer had the ability to penetrate the lane or score from the perimeter. Three times he was named the Ivy Rookie of the Week.

Davis followed that campaign by leading the team in scoring again as a sophomore while Princeton went 22–9 and advanced to the semifinals of the College Basketball Invitational.

In spite of personal success and playing a leading role in the program’s revival, Davis is modest in the face of individual accolades. “His humility is remarkable,” Johnson says. “I don’t know if I’ve been around that good of a player who carries himself that way and yet still is able to perform in the big moments.”

The song in his earphones may brim with braggadocio, but the quiet Davis prefers to let his on-court accomplishments make him an unforgettable part of the Tigers’ return to prominence.

Jon Solomon is the editor of

Drake featuring Young Jeezy - "Unforgettable" (some NSFW language)

"I pray before games. I read the bible just by myself and then I get at it and listen to music." - D. Davis

“When I was recruited here, I knew I was going to be in a great spot academically and I knew that I would have a shot play as a freshman. I just needed an opportunity and it came November 14. It got me on a groove and set my college career off on the right start.” - D. Davis

"My challenge to Doug is to be the best player on the floor no matter what the situation is. It is only half the time we're going to have the ball and certainly he's one of the guys we want to get his touches. If he can impact the games in a number of different ways it just makes him so much more dangerous for people to deal with." - S. Johnson

"Being a basketball player, you have to work on everything. My freshman year I showed everybody that I could score. My sophomore year I tried to improve on the things that I didn't do well my freshman year. This summer I worked on my footwork with my brother [DeOliver Davis, a freshman football player at Lafayette]. It is working well for me so far. I just hope it continues." - D. Davis

"It certainly played a part in his decision, especially with the great tradition that's at Princeton, knowing how many great players have come through there. To maybe get them back [to the top of the Ivy League] and be one of those great players himself was a part. I think the Princeton staff was excited and knew they were getting a good player. He's the type of kid that when they've been really good they've been able to get." - Hun School coach Jonathan Stone, who coached Davis for two seasons.

"I remember calling Coach J, I was proctoring a study hall [at Hun] and I called him during our break to say 'Coach, I'm coming!' and he didn't expect me to say that. He just wanted to know how my day went." (laughs) "When I said I was coming, he was surprised and I said 'I'm all in.'" - D. Davis

"It is not a secret, but you have to be a friend of his or a coach of his or a teacher of his - his humility is remarkable. He's got a lot to be proud of in terms of having gone to the Hun School and done well there and now he's going to the best school in the country. He's right in the middle of the men's basketball program playing well and he's been All-Conference for two years now and he was the first freshman to lead the varsity team in scoring - there's some things there, and yet his humility is what makes him so good for us - its his ability to stand out and take big shots and make things easier for everybody else but to really embrace the team concept, that takes a certain humility and a certain self-confidence [to say] 'hey, I know I'm good and the team needs me and we're working together to figure this out.'" - S. Johnson

"I've seen it for so many games now and for so long, I don't know if I've been around that good of a player who caries himself that way and yet still is able to perform in the big moments. It is a remarkable thing that he has going on with his humility and self-confidence all wrapped into one." - S. Johnson

"One of the special things about Doug is he has a personality that attracts people. He sets people at ease the minute he's with him. He has a way of making other people feel special, which is pretty unique I think. As great as a basketball player that he is, he's probably a better person. We're certainly very proud of him over here." - J. Stone

Off the floor Davis enjoys drawing and his eyes light up when asked about sketching.

"Because I like to draw, I always know that I have to practice and work at drawing because I like to do it and I like to do it well. The same thing with basketball. If I know that I'm missing a shot I am going to work hard at it so I am knocking down that shot every time. I would just be at it for hours and hours, trying to get a picture to look exactly like I want a picture to look." - D. Davis

Rodney Johnson said,

January 14, 2011 @ 11:09 am

Thanks for a great article, Jon.

Douglas has been a great contributor to the Princeton basketball program. After reading your article, I realize he is a great contributor to Princeton, period. I look forward to seeing him play every time I attend a game.

Jon Solomon said,

January 14, 2011 @ 11:11 am

Thanks. This was a lot of fun to write. Wish I could have included one of his drawings.

Maureen Montgomery said,

January 14, 2011 @ 3:44 pm

What a really terrific young man! Nice article Jon - your writing gets better and better.
I love when I'm listening to a game on WPRB and Sedak refers to "Double D."

Jon Solomon said,

January 14, 2011 @ 4:37 pm

Thanks, Maureen. I very much appreciate the compliment.

As for "Double D," given his full name is Douglas Decoster Davis, you can also call him "3D"!

Rodney Johnson said,

January 15, 2011 @ 9:25 am


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