Frank Davis’ basketball journey has not been an easy one.
The East Hall High graduate has had to work at every opportunity on the hardwood. He worked to become a Division-I basketball player. The same work ethic has also elevated him in college coaching circles.
Now, Davis is still wearing the same Black and Gold school colors worn in Valhalla.
The only difference he is doing so the Director of Basketball Operations for the Wake Forest University men’s basketball team.
He came over, in 2020, with head coach Steve Forbes from East Tennessee State, where they both held the same respective positions.
“Any time I can get the Black and Gold back on, that’s a positive,” said Davis with a chuckle. “This whole past year was surreal. You’re at the Mecca of college basketball. It is something I do not take for granted.”
Things did not sink in right away for the 33-year-old Davis because of everything taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic and near-empty arenas for games.
This was the first season for Demon Deacons staff.
Many of the games, Davis said, felt like controlled scrimmages.
The hollowed grounds of Duke’s Cameron Indoor Arena or North Carolina’s Dean Smith Center gave Davis a weird feeling because there were no fans, but the history of both venues was hard to ignore.
“This was mind goggling on how things workout like that,” said Davis laughing about his basketball journey.
Back in the day, if you lived in the East Hall High district, players dreamed of being part of the Vikings' tradition.
Davis wanted to use basketball to get a Division-I scholarship. He poured so much time into practicing that then East Hall head coach Joe Dix had to kick him out of the gym when it was time to lock up and turn off the lights at night.
Dix knew Davis had a chance to transform himself into a Division I player.
“He was committed early on to what he needed in order to get better,” said Dix, who is now coach at Collins Hill High in Suwannee.
For Davis, all the work paid off.
Davis earned a scholarship to Tennessee Tech and became the schools all-time 3-point shooting leader with 251 makes behind the line, while appearing in the second most games played (125) and scoring 1,1118 career points from 2006-2010.
Davis’ focus and work was a staple in the classroom, being named to the Ohio Valley Conference Commissioner’s Honor Roll four times.
He has a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and physical wellness and a Master of Arts in elementary and secondary physical education.
However, just before the end of his senior season, Davis starting wondering about life after basketball. He was not sure where it would lead him. It would lead to a basketball contract in the United Kingdom.
Davis then found himself in the post basketball phase of “What’s next?”
Davis’ good friend Josh Chapman, who was playing at Piedmont University, asked then head men’s coach Lee Glenn if Davis could help the Lions’ program.
Glenn agreed and Davis volunteered on the Lions’ staff.
He would drive up to practice when he could and on road game days, the Piedmont bus would make a stop to pick up Davis at a gas station on Spouts Springs Road in Flowery Branch.
That’s when the coaching bug bit Davis bad, after that 2011 season.
The following season, current Tennessee State assistant men’s basketball coach Russ Willemsen called Davis. He asked the Gainesville native if he thought about becoming a graduate assistant at Lee University.
Davis jumped at the opportunity because it was what he wanted to do. He knew it was something he needed to look into because getting a college-coaching job is difficult. Getting in the business is also about who you know. David and Willemsen have a great relationship.
“The thing about this profession, you have to know people,” Davis said.
“Frank and I talk every day, “ Willemsen said. “I think it is important with their former players. The best advice I think is to be where your feet are and also don’t compare your journey to other coaches. Do the best job when and where you are and let the process work itself out.”
Willemsen, who coached as a Directors of Operations at Tennessee Tech, watched the work Davis put in as a player. This was one of the reasons he helped Davis get on with the Lee University position.
“Frank is a tedious worker that was a gym rat,” Willemsen said. “He had all the traits of what it makes to be a successful coach.”
Davis’ attention to detail has also caught the attention of other college coaches. The National Associations of Basketball Coaches (NABC) named him to its 30-under-30 team for college coaches after being apart of Tennessee Tech’s 2015-16 season.
Davis has been tied together with some quality head coaches.
“He has built a great resume,” said Dix, who is Davis’ step-father. “We are very excited for him. He is fortunate to be working with Steve Forbes.”
Davis knows getting to this point of his career is not by chance.
He remains level headed about his journey.
He wants continue being around good people whether is it as a college coach or an athletic director.
Davis does have a message to anyone interested in following his path.
“Whatever you’re going to do, do it with all you got,” Davis said. “If you’re under-recruited, just work harder. People take notice of guys that work.”