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UNLV Rebels Over Bears

L.E. Baskow

UNLV Rebels guard Amauri Hardy (3) is driven back as Northern Colorado Bears guard Jordan Davis (0) elevates for a shot attempt during their game at the Thomas & Mack L.E. Baskow

Jordan Davis doesn’t expect a team to select him in the NBA Draft today. The North Las Vegas native, who played at the small college of Northern Colorado, is considered undersized at 6-foot-2 and lacks the consistent outside shot practically required in the modern NBA.

The scouting report won’t change, and he says he’s fine with that. But it doesn’t mean he isn’t worthy of an opportunity to reach the league, especially considering he was Northern Colorado’s all-time leading scorer, thanks to high-level athleticism that routinely produced highlight-reel plays.

His mentality is simple: “Give me a chance, and I’ll prove you wrong,” he says.

It was the same approach when he was a senior at Canyon Springs High School. Despite being one of Southern Nevada’s most accomplished players as part of three consecutive regional championship teams, Davis was lightly recruited. He may have drawn interest in football at wide receiver.

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Jordan Davis leaps to the hoop for an easy layup in the first half Friday, Feb. 28, 2014 as Bishop Gorman defeated Canyon Springs 71-58 in the Nevada state championship game at Lawlor Event Center in Reno.

Then Northern Colorado came calling—the one Division I chance he needed. Not only did he shatter scoring records and lead the Bears to a Postseason Tournament title in 2018, but he also developed a new maturity.

“They got me ready for life after basketball,” he said. “I trust those guys with my life. Those guys taught me how to work out the right way. They taught me how to be a pro.”

Davis finished with 2,270 career points in college, including a monster senior season in which he posted averages of 23.4 points, 4.7 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game en route to being named the Big Sky Conference’s Player of the Year. Along the way, he had several signature moments.

There was the dunk in the Big Sky Conference tournament, where he elevated over a Montana defender for a ridiculous slam. It was that day’s top play on ESPN’s SportsCenter.

“Great players making great plays,” the announcer proclaimed excitedly in a clip that spread across social media. “That’s even better than that.”

And there was that time when Davis nearly led Northern Colorado to an upset of nationally ranked Arizona. He had 20 points in the 2016 loss, catching the eye of Arizona coach Sean Miller. “Jordan Davis can play at any program in the country,” Miller said. “He’s a special talent. He’s big. He’s physical. He made the game easier for his teammates.”

The following season, Davis scored 28 points against hometown UNLV, and the Rebels had to rally for the win. Then-UNLV coach Marvin Menzies wondered aloud in the postgame interview why the previous coaching staff hadn’t recruited Davis.

Davis wondered the same thing. His idol growing up was Anthony Marshall, the former UNLV point guard who also hails from North Las Vegas. Davis wanted to follow in Marshall’s Rebel footsteps. But it wasn’t meant to be—and that might have been for the best (for him, at least). Davis developed into a prospect at Northern Colorado, playing significant minutes as a four-year starter to get on the radar of pro scouts.

He declared for the draft last year after his junior season, but didn’t hire an agent and returned to college, where he improved his 3-point shooting from 24 percent as a junior to 36 percent this past season.

“I had to grow mentally and become a better point guard. I had to become a better shooter and defender,” he said of returning. “I’m continuing to show [the scouts] what I can do. I didn’t play on TV every night. I wasn’t in an elite conference. They are just now starting to see me.”

While Davis wasn’t expected to be picked in the draft, there’s a good chance he’ll land on a roster for the NBA Summer League, which begins July 5 in Las Vegas. His college coach, Jeff Linder, calls him “a miniature Russell Westbrook.”

This past week, Davis was invited to work out for the Denver Nuggets, the first of many chances to make a splash in the NBA. As he says, it only takes one opportunity.

“I’m from North Las Vegas,” Davis told reporters after the tryout. “If you go there and I take you to the neighborhood where I grew up as a kid, like my high school, you wouldn’t take any opportunity for granted.”

This story originally appeared in the Las Vegas Weekly.

Article written by #LasVegasSun