By JOSH VERLIN
The Neumann-Goretti Saints have been one of the more dominant teams in Pennsylvania over the last few years, winning three straight PIAA Class AAA state titles and four consecutive city titles.
For a program that has defined success in the area, rising senior John Davis has typified Neumann-Goretti basketball in his time at the school.
“(Davis) is a winner, he’s the type of player that helps you win games when you put him on the floor,” Neumann-Goretti head coach Carl Arrigale told Philahoops. “He’s been a very good player for us since pretty much Day 1.”
Davis will join some of the city’s top freshmen, sophomores and juniors in the All-City Classic May 30 at Philadelphia Community College. Tickets are $10.
A 6-foot-4 forward, Davis began his Neumann-Goretti career as a power forward trapped in a wing’s body. Described by Arrigale as “one of the most hardworking guys we’ve had in our program,” he’s made his mark as a tenacious defender and rebounder.
“I do all the dirty work,” Davis said. “I can shoot, I can handle the ball, but basically I’m just a guy who gets it done at the end of the day to get the ‘W’. Nothing too spectacular about me, I just get it done at the end of the day.”
Davis, who Arrigale said averaged “right around 14 points and 10 rebounds” in his junior season, is still working on making that transition from playing around the basket to out on the perimeter. He told Philahoops he’s working primarily on his ball handling and shooting as he tries to make himself more attractive to colleges.
Still, no matter where on the court he plays, it’s those intangibles that make him stick out.
“He’s a winner first and foremost,” said one D-I assistant coach who’s seen Davis play numerous times. “In between positions but gets by as a relentless rebounder and does so many little things well. Finds ways to score even though he’s a little undersized.”
Davis listed “VCU, Towson, Delaware, George Mason, Rider, Missouri State, Penn State, Drexel, La Salle (and) UMass” when asked about who was recruiting him, saying he had “a lot of A-10 and CAA” offers. He said he doesn’t currently have a leader or any group of favorites, and that he would commit at some point during his senior year.
When asked about what mattered most to him in his college decision, Davis’ first reply was “good academics,” though a “great coaching staff” and “somewhere I could have fun” and just a general feel for the school were also cited as reasons.
“I think he’s gonna be patient with it, let the summer play out and the AAU season,” Arrigale said, “and then probably start giving it some serious thought at the end of the summer and narrow it down.
“His game’s unique, he’s an undersized big guy that’s learning to play away from the basket. He’s got a nice combination of an inside-out type of thing. His tenaciousness around the basket is really what separates him, so he’s gotta go to a place where he can really utilize that part of his game.”
Oh, and one more thing:
“The fact that he’s left-handed gives him an advantage sometimes around the hoop,” Arrigale said, “because they’re always more right-handed players out there…sometimes he can sneak a couple of buckets in there before the other team realizes that he’s left-handed.”
Drexel and CAA fans can certainly attest to just how much impact an undersized, left-handed tenacious rebounder can have on the mid-major level–recently graduated senior Samme Givens was just the third player in school history with 1000 points and 1000 rebounds.
Josh Verlin is a staff writer for Philahoops.com. Follow him on Twitter @jmverlin