Photo courtesy of Moving Pictures/Hector Martinez.
By David Cordova
Six months ago, the Archbishop Stepinac Crusaders were on top of the world, as they had one of the finest seasons in school history, with their first CHSAA title of any kind in basketball since 2010 and the first on the “AA” level since 1960.
The person driving the keys to the team was none other than R.J. Davis, a diminutive point guard that has a special type of game and is a player that will do whatever to help his team win.
Davis, a 5-foot-11 junior point guard for the Crusaders has the ability to be one of the better guards in the city, and even the tri-state area, especially after last year’s performance. But there’s even more on the horizon for him.
When asked what motivates him to be successful on the court, he replied, “Just like, my heart for the game. I was injured these last three months, so having that desire, and you know, hunger to get back on the court has been motivating me. Just to come out and dominate with my team and lead them to another championship.”
Davis hails from Greenburgh, New York, a town in Westchester County about 50 minutes away from New York City. When asked about his hometown and the basketball culture that surrounds the area, he replied, “Well, a lot of people think that Westchester County is soft, so I’m trying to put on for Greenburgh, you know, representing who I am and who my family is. It’s not a lot of competition out there, so, getting away from that environment benefitted me in the long run.”
In regards to the strengths and weaknesses in his game, he replied, “I would say strengths is my ability to score, penetrate and drive, get my teammates involved, I have a knack for defense. My weakness is I’ll probably say, is to keep building my strength, my core, and being more vocal.”
During his middle school days, he played on the famed New York Gauchos AAU squad, where he also lead them to a 14-and-under AAU national championship the summer before his freshman year of high school.
“You know, that’s family for life, a lot of those guys are still my best friends today, I see them a lot, speak to them a lot, so I’ll always have a place in my heart for the Gauchos,” said Davis about his time with the program based in The Bronx.
In regards to what led him to enroll at Archbishop Stepinac, the Catholic high school on Mamaroneck Avenue in White Plains, as a ninth-grader, he replied, “Just the culture, and Coach Pat [Massaroni] gave me the opportunity to come play, largely as a freshman, so I couldn’t give that up. When an opportunity like that is given to you, you’ve got to accept it.”
As a freshman, he averaged 15 points per game for the Crusaders and led them to and 18-11 record and an appearance in the CHSAA city semifinals, where they would fall to Archbishop Molloy of Queens. However, the following year would prove to be a revelation.
Last season, as a sophomore, he averaged 20.8 points per game, and led Stepinac to a 27-5 record, and the CHSAA Archdiocesan title, the CHSAA title and the New York State Federation title, to go along with the No. 1 ranking in the state.
“It was an unbelievable experience, just to win it with that group of guys that are hard-working, dedicated, just to go out there and prove people wrong,” said Davis of his spectacular season, which earned him CHSAA “AA” First Team honors.
But aside from all of the success, came some adversity when in April, during the first session of the Under Armour Association tournament in Dallas, Texas, when he suffered an injury that would sideline him for months.
“I didn’t fall or anything, it’s just wear and tear, and playing a lot of basketball, and so the body breaks down and it’s not strong enough to keep it maintained,” said Davis about the cause of his injury.
When asked about the physical rehab he had to do to get him back in shape, Davis replied, “It’s been going good, recently, I’ve just been working out with the team, and getting back in the shape of things, doing open runs. I’ll probably come back 100% healthy around October.”
Although he missed plenty of action during the months of April and July, the times when the opportunity to be seen by colleges are crucial to a young athlete, it seems as if the colleges haven’t forgotten about Davis. When asked about his recruitment, he replied, “It’s going very well, all of the colleges are recruiting me very well, and I’m grateful for the spot that I am in. You know, just keep grinding, and all good things will come.”
So far the list of schools that have vied for his services so far, are Seton Hall, St. John’s, Illinois, Marist, Manhattan, Fordham, LaSalle, St. Louis and Yale, to name a few.
Now that his junior season is approaching and his body is just getting back to normal, all Davis plans to do is to stay focused on achieving the goals that he has set forth to accomplish.
“Just to lead my team, becoming the vocal leader they need me to be, and just dominate, that’s the key thing, so I’ll be leading our team on and off the court.” said Davis.
As for his future plans? “Hopefully, to go to the school I want to go to and becoming a dynamic player.”
Highlights of RJ Davis:
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