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On the rare occasions where Frank Davis gets to come back home, he can’t stay long.
The recruiting trail has him constantly on the move.
“That’s one of the hardest things,” said Davis. “Even when I’m back in town, I can’t tell anyone I’m back, because I’m usually in the gym 12 hours a day.”
Davis, an East Hall High graduate, was recently named as one of 30 assistant coaches nationally as recognized by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), earning a spot on the 2016 Under Armour 30-under-30 Team of the nation’s top young assistants.
He’ll turn 28 in May.
East Hall High coach Joe Dix said the Tennessee Tech assistant proved his worth by recruiting throughout the Southeast for talent. The 2015-16 Golden Eagles roster lists five Georgia products, including former Buford High product Tre Hansbrough.
“He’s so connected,” said Dix, who said Davis once drove from Tennessee to Kansas overnight in order to scout talent. “Recruiting, it’s the lifeblood of an assistant coach. … You don’t win in that league unless you’ve got good players. He gets after it.”
Dix coached Davis during East Hall’s run to a state championship in 2003 and 2005. Davis was named the Class AA Player of the Year in his junior year before graduating in 2006.
Davis then starred in a four-year career at Tennessee Tech, shooting to the top of the all-time 3-point shooting list and locking in the No. 2 spot for career games played (125). After his college career ended, he later returned to take over as director of basketball operations for the Golden Eagles. Davis is now in his third year as full-time assistant coach under head coach Steve Payne.
Dix said he could sense during Davis’s high school and college careers that Davis had the “basketball IQ” to succeed in coaching. Davis is listed among talented assistants from Duke University (Jon Scheyer), Vanderbilt (Adam Cohen) and Ohio State (Greg Paulus).
“He could study the game, break down how you do things,” said Dix. “He can slow things down and process them with players. He does a really good job of communicating that.”
Evaluating talent takes a keen eyes and a discerning mind, according to Davis. Often, he’ll coordinate both with his own coaching staff and high school coaches to determine whether a particular student-athlete is right for the Golden Eagles’ program. Dix said Davis’ job typically focuses on finding which players can best fit into a particular system or ethos.
So far, Davis has brought in the talent to do the job: Tennessee Tech made the postseason for the first time since 2011-12 with a bid to the inaugural Vegas 16 Tournament.
“There’s always the eye test, the look, the length and athleticism are all things you’re looking for,” said Davis. “But you need to find the right type of guys. Good locker room guys who work hard, have the right tools and fit in the right piece.”
Dix said he called Davis to congratulate him on the accomplishment as soon as he heard about it, saying it was a high honor based on the body of work Davis brought to the Golden Eagles. Both coaches tend to be very busy during the seasons, which makes it hard to spend long stretches of time together, but both coaches have taken the time to meet each other either in Hall County or Tennessee.
“He’ll be home for Christmas, and a couple times he’ll sneak in and surprise me in my office,” said Dix.
“I love Gainesville,” said Davis. “It’s a special place for sports. I still talk to all my teammates, and every time I’m back down there, I’m talking hoops.”