Former Pepperdine Waves men’s basketball player Stacy Davis played the best ball of his professional career last season in Turkey.
The 26-year-old forward averaged 17.8 points and 6.6 rebounds as he led Alba Fehervar, a Hungarian A Division squad, to an 18-13 record and the quarterfinals of the playoffs.
“Last season was my most successful,” Davis said during a Sept. 3 phone call. “I did really well personally, and we finished fourth in the league. We had a really good group of guys. It was a great experience.”
Yet scoring a bevy of points or gobbling up rebounds isn’t what drives Davis to be successful on the hardwood. Instead, his four-year-old daughter Saniyah is what revs up his basketball engine.
“I want to build something for her in terms of having a stable household,” he said. “I want to maximize the money I’m making. That is the driving force for me.”
Davis, now with Polish team King Szczecin, is off to a good start this season. In the team’s first contest Davis, who ended his Pepperdine Waves career in 2016 as the program’s all-time top scorer and rebounder, tallied 16 and grabbed eight rebounds. He had 16 points and four rebounds in the team’s second game.
Saniyah will visit Davis in Szczecin, the northwestern Polish city Davis’ team is based in, sometime before the season’s conclusion in the spring.
The main reason Davis decided to sign a contract with King Szczecin instead of teams in Japan, Hungary or Ukraine was because the international trek from the U.S. to Central Europe would be easier for his only daughter and her mother, Chantel Christie.
“I want the trip to be as manageable as possible, whereas going to Japan—that’s a really long trip,” he said.
Davis believes Saniyah would have a better experience in Poland, a nation known for scenic cities and castles.
“For my daughter to come see me for a number of weeks,” he said, “I want her to be able to get out [of] the house and enjoy herself. I don’t want her to just be here and in the apartment. I want her to have a good experience. I want her to be able to acclimate pretty fast.”
Saniyah has visited her basketball dad in whatever country he was playing in. The exception was last year. The youngster didn’t visit Davis in Hungary because of restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Last season was tough for the father.
“It’s a grind,” Davis said. “I missed time with my family that I can’t get back—missed time with my daughter.”
He said he got through the months without seeing Saniyah in person and playing in a gym with no fans by forging strong bonds with his teammates. Davis became friends with members of Alba Fehervar’s women’s team. They all spent Thanksgiving together.
Davis exceled on the basketball court for the Hungarian squad. He was the team’s top scorer and rebounder and was voted to Eurobasket.com’s All-Hungarian League 2nd Team and All-Imports Team. He dropped 33 points in Alba’s 100-97 upset victory over Kaposvari last February. In Alba’s final match of the 31-game season, an 88-85 loss to DEAC in April, Davis scored 22 points and corralled nine boards.
A YouTube video of Davis’ highlights from last season shows him still wearing No. 5, the same number he wore at Pepperdine, and knocking down three-pointers, midrange jumpers and layups.
Davis, who knocked 34.6 percent from three and hit 47 long-range shots, is a much better shooter than he was in college. His ability to knock down shots from a distance and defend various players is key to having a successful career.
“The older you get the less athletic you become—you’re not as fast, you’re not as quick—being able to have a solid jump shot is something that I should be able to rely on,” Davis said.
Playing with King Szczecin, the Arizona native said, has positives including a financially hefty contract with good stipulations and the high-level competition featured in the league his team plays in, Polska Liga Koszykówki.
“It will be pretty good exposure for me,” Davis stated.
Davis joined the team in Szczecin the second week of August. The city is in northwest Poland and is close to the Baltic Sea. The German border isn’t far, either.
Davis has played in several countries since graduating from Pepperdine. Initially, he was hesitant to explore his surroundings, but that has changed in recent years. He wants to visit Berlin, the German capital, since it is only two hours away from Szczecin.
“I’m living in these countries, not just visiting, but I’m also going to probably live here [only] once,” Davis said. “So, I want to take in as much as possible instead of just staying in my apartment.”
King Szczecin defeated PGE Spójnia Stargard, a rival squad, 81-75, on Sept. 3. Fans packed the stadium and the game was intense. Davis didn’t play his best, but he did make three key shots down the stretch including one that sent the game into overtime and two more to give King Szczecin a solid lead in the extra period.
“I made shots when it mattered,” Davis recalled.
The squad’s next game is Sept. 19 against Start Lublin.
One of the former Pepperdine star’s goals for the season is to be an outstanding team player.
“I saw how important good relationships and being the best teammate you can be are last season,” Davis said. “That really got me through the season and is something I strive for.”
The other goal is for his daughter to have fun when she comes to his games.
“I’m in a position to provide her a life for that she will enjoy,” Davis said.