Former Pepperdine Waves men’s basketball star Stacy Davis was playing the best basketball of his professional career when the novel coronavirus pandemic stopped the ball from bouncing in sports leagues around the globe in March.
Davis, the Waves’ all-time career scoring leader, rang up a career-high 33 points for BC Nokia in its win over Kouvot on Feb. 26 in Finland’s Korisliiga league. He drilled a three-pointer at the buzzer to lift his squad to victory over Lahti six days later. Then, the 25-year-old scored 29 points in Nokia’s loss to Kauhajoen Karhu on March 10.
Davis also had five steals and four rebounds in the top-division Finnish contest.
“I had a really good game,” he remembered. “I felt like I couldn’t miss.”
Two days later, the remainder of the season was canceled because of the coronavirus’ spread, and Davis was back in Arizona with this family within a week.
The 6-foot-6 forward led Nokia in scoring at 18 points a game and scored in double figures in 35 of his team’s 37 contests. Davis posted 20 points or more over 20 times and recorded double digits in points and rebounds in the same game six times.
He was balling.
The past Pepperdine standout is now ready to pick up where he left off, but with Alba Fehérvár, a pro team that competes in Hungary’s top basketball league. Davis flew to the Central European nation on Aug. 19 in preparation for his new team’s September training camp. The season tips off in October.
Davis scored 1,786 points and grabbed 994 rebounds during his stellar four-year college career, yet five days before he flew to his new team, he said his basketball IQ has doubled since he graduated from Pepperdine in 2016.
“The knowledge I have now and how I see the game, how I process it,” he said, “to have that knowledge in college would have been paramount.”
Davis, who has hooped in nearly 10 countries in the last four years, now knows how to manage what his teams want of him on the court. If he is expected to be a leader and score between 15 and 18 points, he knows where and when to pick his swishing spots. A fast break bucket here, two threes there, then a score off an isolation move or pick and roll.
“I can break up the game that way,” Davis said. “It’s been a lot of maturing.”
A YouTube highlight reel of Davis by AG Highlights, a EuroLeague and NBA videos page, concurrs. The 4 minute and 42 seconds video shows Davis’ game winner and a plethora of moments of him driving by defenders to the hoop or rising above them to knock down long and midrange shots.
One commenter posted a thumbs up emoji between two flame emojis under the video.
When Davis first stepped on European hardwood, the double-figuring scoring outputs and penchant for gobbling up missed shots continued from college.
He averaged 12 points and five rebounds a game for Ukraine’s Cherkasy Monkeys in his first professional season and 13 points and five rebounds a game for Le Havre in France the next. Davis continued to fill up the basket during the first half of his third pro season for teams in the Philippines and Mexico. However, during his time with his first four teams, he had hoops angst.
“I was gung-ho on scoring,” Davis said. “I was like, ‘Aww man, if I don’t have this many points, it’s is going to look bad.’ So, I was just anxious and doing things out of character.”
Things changed when he joined the Slovakian squad Prievidza in the back half of the 2018-19 campaign.
“I knew exactly what they wanted from me,” said Davis, who averaged 15 points and five boards for the club. “I started watching game film, and as I started playing with them, I figured out how I could manage the game— how I could make an impact.”
Even though he was one of the Finnish league’s top scorers, rebounders and free throw shooters, while leading his squad to a winning record before the season ended prematurely, Davis said his three months in Slovakia changed his career.
“It did a lot for me,” he said. “That transcended to my season in Finland.”
Davis’ 2016-17 season in Ukraine was his most trying. He was a first-year professional trying to learn how to live and play in a foreign land.
“Navigating that whole situation from the get-go was tough,” Davis recalled. “But I felt if could make it there, you could put me anywhere on Earth to play.”
While he played in Normandy, France, the coastal sights of beaches, hills and homes reminded him of Malibu. Davis visited old war bunkers on the coast and went to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower and Louvre Museum.
“My favorite place to play is France,” he said. “We didn’t have a successful season on the court, but it was a cool experience.”
The former Wave spent most of his spring and summer training in Arizona. Davis traveled to Southern California in past offseasons but didn’t this year because of the coronavirus.
He believed he would have had the opportunity to play in Germany his fifth pro season, but due to the pandemic’s impact on many teams’ finances, most organizations did not sign new players as quickly as in the past. When Davis received the offer to go to Hungary, he took it.
“I didn’t want to pass up a good deal to wait on something else,” he said.
Davis expects a limited number of fans to be allowed to attend the games in Hungary. He suspects he and other international players will do something to show support for the social justice movement that is sweeping the U.S.
He wants to end the coming season with a title.
“I have done the scoring,” Davis said. “I have the capability to do that. I want us to put together a good season as a team and get that championship.”