Jordan Davis. Photo by Rob Trubia
Jordan Davis and the UNC Globetrotters
Bears point guard takes to the court in Romania and the U.S. Virgin Islands
UNC fans may have read the Sports Illustrated story outlining the unlikely tale of how a Las Vegas native ended up in Romania with an Azerbaijani passport for a summer basketball tournament.
Basically, Azerbaijan’s U20 national team, taking advantage of an International Basketball Federation (FIBA) rule that allows for one naturalized dual citizen per roster, recruited UNC point guard Jordan Davis to play in the FIBA U20 European Championship.
It was a great story about a UNC standout going international, and Davis followed it up with an impressive performance, returning from his summer travels in Europe as the top scorer in the tournament.
The numbers aren’t surprising. Last season, as a sophomore, Davis led the Big Sky in assists and held the 53rd ranking in the nation for points per game. He set multiple UNC records and earned all-conference honors. His UNC performance drew the attention of scouts, and led him to Azerbaijani and Romania.
Bears on the Beach
Davis wasn’t the only Bear to gain international experience over the summer. In August, UNC men’s basketball traveled to the U.S. Virgin Islands for a summer tour, giving the team the benefit of extra summer practices and experience playing teams from the U.S. mainland, U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada.
Besides basketball, the trip provided time for bonding, as redshirt senior Tyler Loose described in a blog post: swimming, snorkeling, and a bunch of 6-foot-something guys cautiously sneaking past a pack of iguanas on the way to the beach.
But the real payoff from his international experience was more than another impressive stat sheet. The experience taught him how to deal with people and strengthened his resolve, especially when faced with the team’s losses in the tournament. Davis prides himself on his respect for the game, a trait noted by his UNC coaches. When not all of his European teammates took losses seriously, he had a choice: be upset or take responsibility for what he could control.
“It just made me want to play harder,” he says.
The experience broadened his basketball IQ. He spent hours watching European teams, observing a playing style similar to the system he learned last year under new UNC head coach Jeff Linder. It’s a system that emphasizes stretching the offense across the floor, says UNC’s Associate Head Coach Steve Smiley, and relies on a high level of skill from each player.
“It showed me that if you run it right, if you take your time and be patient, it works for anybody,” Davis says.
Davis also gained confidence by leading a team of strangers who didn’t all speak fluent English. He was told to guard the toughest opponents and score the most points. In a culture where his fellow athletes — whom he still stays in touch with — enjoyed hookah and going out at night, he says he often elected to work on homework and watch game film. The confidence he brought back to Greeley, Smiley says, has a positive effect on his whole team.
Now, back at UNC, Davis has a lot on his mind, including his girlfriend and daughter who live back in Las Vegas. As much as he misses them, he’s relying on the support system of his coaches and parents to help him focus on school and basketball so he can take care of his family; he hopes with a career involving basketball. This year, he was selected to the Big Sky Preseason All-Conference Team.
In the meantime, the Big Sky Preseason All-Conference selection applies what he learned in Europe, he’s pushing himself to be a vocal leader as the Bears seek a single goal:
“Winning a championship, and doing it together,” Davis says.