- By Bryant Billing Contributing Writer
There’s a wall behind Springfield High School’s gymnasium that features headshots of athletes who have earned all-conference and all-state honors. It’s lined with basketball players and is a testament to the talent that emerged off the hardwood at North and South.
Springfield’s two high schools produced a wealth of college players for decades, from the likes of Jody Finney (Ohio State), Randy Ayers (Miami), and Fred Carson (Texas) in the 1960s and ’70s to the likes of John Carson (Cincinnati), Elgrace Wilborn (Tennessee) and Nate Miller (Bowling Green) in the ’90s and last decade.
Danny Davis has outdone them all.
Davis became Springfield’s all-time leading scorer in a 67-55 win over Wayne on Jan. 13 and had 1,639 career points entering Saturday’s game at Columbus Northland.
Springfield coach Isaiah Carson knows the feat is no small task. Carson played at South from 2001 to 2004 and is a part of a family that is Springfield basketball royalty. He, his father Fred (a North graduate) and brother John (South graduate) are all among the top scorers in Springfield schools’ history. John held the scoring record with 1,478 points before Davis surpassed him in January.
“Danny ranks right up there with the best guys that have come out of here,” Carson said. “When those lights come on, he’s a gamer. He has a special shooting ability. And more than that, he’s a deserving kid. I’d rather have him (break the record) than anyone else. He’s a very humble and very hard-working kid.”
Davis has done far more than just score in four seasons for Springfield. As a 6-foot-3 guard, he has been one of tallest players on the team and has had to defend taller players in the post. He has averaged more than five rebounds and more than two steals per game each season.
He has never had to carry the scoring load on his own, either. In each of Davis’ four seasons, he has had two teammates average over 10 points per game.
Carson said with the other talented players surrounding Davis, he’s never been selfish when it comes to taking shots. Davis is third in the GWOC this season with an average of 5.2 assists per game.
“He has a trait that is very important, and that’s being a great teammate first above everything else,” Carson said. “It’s not just about scoring, it’s about being successful, and he’s always put winning above anything else.”
Davis said he was stunned to learn he set the all-time scoring record and couldn’t have imagined accomplishing the feat as a freshman. Few others could have, either, with the state of Springfield’s program at the time.
In the first six years after North and South merged, the program had only two seasons with records above .500 and never advanced out of the sectionals. Springfield went 13-10 when Davis was in the eighth grade, and his addition to varsity the next year helped turn the program into one of the Dayton-area’s best. In Davis’ first three seasons, Springfield has won at least 18 games each year and has two sectional titles and one regional final appearance.
“It was definitely harder to go from middle school football to varsity as a freshman, and I didn’t do too much my freshman (football) year,” Davis said. “I didn’t know how much I’d play (in basketball) coming in, but Coach (Carson) gave me the opportunity to play, and I stepped up into my role.
Davis said former teammates Dae’Shawn Jackson and Henry Alexander helped him improve his defense and leadership. Jackson and Alexander graduated in 2015 and were instrumental in the team’s run to the regional finals that year.
“Before those guys came, nobody was buying into the system,” Davis said. “Everybody was just doing their own thing. That’s why we’ve been succeeding since I’ve been here. The older guys had already bought in and they taught me. Learning from them guys helped me mature. Now there’s no selfishness, and everybody’s having fun playing together.”
Carson said though Davis has never had a problem scoring, he was the worst defender on the team as a freshman. But now, Carson said Davis is one of Springfield’s top two defenders.
“He has to get credit for that,” Carson said. “He’s been very coachable and has listened to his coaches and teammates. I’m very appreciative of Danny, and we wouldn’t be where we’re at as a program without him.”
Davis emerged as a star on the football field his sophomore season and amassed nearly 7,000 all-purpose yards and scored 57 total touchdowns in his career. He signed with Wisconsin earlier this month and said he’s excited for his future and relieved to have the recruiting process over with.
Now that he has only basketball to focus on athletically, he hopes Springfield can finish the season strong and make another deep tournament run.
“Defense is a big key,” Davis said. “We’ve got to keep coming to practice each day, and when that tournament rolls around, remember that nothing is given and our record doesn’t matter. We’re 0-0 then. We’ve got to come in with that mindset that if you lose, it’s over, and remember that everyone will be gunning for us.”