Whenever Tennessee Tech guard Frank Davis returns to the East Hall High gym for the occasional visit, the memories recollected are plentiful, like the championship banners that hang from the rafters over his former stomping grounds.
“As soon as I walk in I see the championship trophies and the banners,” he said. “Nobody can take that away from us.”
Davis, the Vikings’ third all-time leading scorer, helped hang some of those banners during a highly successful high school career before taking his stellar game to Tennessee Tech in 2006. While at home this holiday, he’ll have time to take a break from college and look back at the legacy he left at East Hall.
“I’m using the next couple of days just to get my legs back a bit,” Davis said.
The rest is well-deserved, as Davis is currently enjoying his best season with Golden Eagles since he joined the team. The 6-foot-2 junior is averaging 10.3 points per game this year, good for second on the team and the highest of his college career.
“I feel really comfortable playing right now,” he said. “I really like my teammates and the school. It’s been a lot of fun so far.”
But behind every college athlete is a story that explains how they made it to the next level. For Davis, it begins at East Hall, where he ranks among the greatest and most decorated athletes to ever wear a Vikings uniform. Between 2002 and 2006, Davis scored 2,093 points, made 353 3-pointers, was named first-team All-State twice, won four Lanierland titles, two region titles and two state titles (2003 and 2005). During the four-year span, East Hall had an overall record of 120-8.
“He helped the raise the bar for our program with his work ethic and willingness to sacrifice,” said East Hall coach Joe Dix, who is also Davis’ stepfather. “He built himself into a great player with the work he put into this team.”
When Davis graduated in 2006, he knew that playing with a entirely new team at Tennessee Tech meant starting all over, and it wouldn’t be easy. Unlike his days with the Vikings, where he was the go-to player in key situations, he had to earn his respect. It wasn’t instant, as he averaged only 3.3 points per game with limited playing time as a freshman.
“At first, I was getting frustrated,” Davis said. “Everyone was so much bigger and faster than me. I had to realize that there was 10 other Division-I players on my team.
“But I just kept working hard and now I’m really enjoying myself.”
Now, as a junior, Davis is seeing plenty of playing time and has scored in double figures five times this year, including a season-high 22 points against Louisiana-Monroe on Nov. 29. His strategy for improving his game and making a difference on the Golden Eagles has been simple — play like it’s East Hall again.
“Our whole team is really deep, like in high school,” Davis said. “I don’t score as many points, but other than that, everything is the same.”
Sometimes, when Davis comes back to Gainesville during the holidays, it is the same. Despite the busy college life and distance from home, he stays in touch with his high school teammates and even plays pick-up games with them from time to time.
“I was in the gym the other day with them, so I’ve seen a lot of my friends,” Davis said. “It’s fun to see everyone and catch up again.”
Davis may return to Gainesville when his basketball career is over. With one year left before he earns his bachelor’s degree in exercise science with teaching certification, he sees coaching in his future.
And with his name forever etched among the greatest athletes to play at East Hall, a coaching position with the Vikings could be just the job he’s looking for after college.
“The expectations here are so high, so it would be tough,” Davis said. “But that would be a pretty cool job.”
Regardless of where he ends up after college, the legacy that Davis left behind will remain at East Hall as long as the championship trophies are in the cases and the banners hang from the rafters.
“They’ll always be there every time I come in,” he said.