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Ben Davis with his son Ben Davis Jr. after coaching him for a game in the Fab 48 tournament in Las Vegas (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Like any proud father, Ben Davis believes his son deserves the best.
That includes his son Ben Davis Jr. playing for his former school, Arizona, once his high school career ends this school year at the distinguished Oak Hill Academy. It was at Oak Hill that Davis elevated himself, in his two years there, to be worthy of a Division I scholarship.
He believes his son will do the same.
“He’s pretty good,” the elder Davis said of his son Thursday night after coaching him in an AAU tournament game with the Salt Lake Rebels at Sierra Vista High School.
“He just turned 17 two weeks ago. He’s going to be a young senior at Oak Hill. I mean, he wants to go to Arizona but they aren’t recruiting him. I thought probably they might want to take him and redshirt him because he’s so young. He doesn’t care about playing. He’s a 4.0 student. He just wants to go to Arizona. I think he’s good enough to go to a lot of other places, you know what I mean?”
Davis Jr., a 6’7″ and 235-pound forward, is coming off a season at Salt Lake City Judge Memorial in which he averaged 10.4 points and 4.3 rebounds a game. After his playing career, Davis Sr. relocated to Salt Lake City, where his ex-wife (Ben Jr.’s mother) is from. He has remained in Salt Lake City as a freight broker, although he returns to Tucson often to visit old acquaintances from his time at Arizona 20 years ago.
“I’ll probably move back to Tucson after my son gets done playing,” Davis Sr. said. “I’ll actually be moving back to Tucson to watch him play.”
He then paused and smiled, realizing that uncertainty.
The younger Davis is not listed by the recruiting services, but his exposure with Oak Hill should get him noticed more.
Belying his big-body frame, Davis Jr. made 21 of 61 shots (34 percent) from three-point range last year for Judge Memorial, including six games with at least two made from that far. He plays much more facing the basket than his father, who established himself as one of the best power forwards to wear an Arizona uniform, averaging 14.2 points and 9.5 rebounds a game as a senior in 1995-96.
Davis Sr. did not attempt a three-pointer in his career at Kansas and Arizona after he played one season at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College. A second-round draft pick by the Suns in 1996, Davis played in 40 NBA games over four seasons. He played parts of three years professionally overseas in Spain and Italy before leaving the game in 2003.
“He was a little more athletic than I am,” Davis Jr. said of his father. “He’s always taught me how to shoot the ball. Since I was a little kid, he pushes things that if he could have done better he would have made it higher.
“So he’s always pushing me to a place he couldn’t make just to make me a better player. He’s always worked with me on my jump shot.”
The elder Davis believes in time, especially with the experience at Oak Hill under meticulous coach Steve Smith, his son can be as physically imposing like he was during his time at Arizona.
“He’s a lot better offensively than I was,” Davis Sr. said. “He can shoot threes and dribble and do all kinds of stuff. He has to get in a little bit better shape, but he’s also young. I am sure that will happen next year.
“I went to Oak Hill for two years. I know exactly what he’ll go through. He will be a completely different dude by next year.”
“I’ve always been a big fan of Arizona. I know all their players I like their offense. Coach (Sean) Miller is really good. I just love that school. Utah is a big rival, but I’ve always been an Arizona fan.”
— Ben Davis Jr.
His daughter, Taya Reimer, has already established herself as one of the best women’s college basketball players in the nation. She played in two national title games with Notre Dame before deciding to transfer this school year to Michigan State, where she will have two years of eligibility.
She graduated from Notre Dame in less than three years, cramming 34 credit hours in the spring semester and summer to earn her degree, allowing her to be immediately eligible with the Spartans in the upcoming season.
“I spend my time working, coaching AAU teams every now and then and I enjoy watching my kids play,” Davis Sr. said. “I’ll be watching my son and seeing where he will go to college. I think he has a good future ahead of him.”
Davis Jr. carries that same confidence, despite knowing the experience ahead at Oak Hill will be arduous.
“My dad said it was hard for him when he went there,” the younger Davis said. “He said it will just push you to do what you think you couldn’t do before. It will make you a new man, he said.
“He also told me that if you get through it, it’s something you’ll always have for the rest of your life.”
ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.