Joseph Santoliquito (@JSantoliquito)
The eyes never seemed to fall on Da’Kquan Davis when he was at Roman Catholic. The college scouts and coaches would steer their attention and clipboards towards the physically mature Tony Carr, Nazeer Bostick or Lamar Stevens—as they should have. The Roman trio led the Cahillites to a PIAA Class 6A state championship in 2016.
They also overshadowed everyone around them, including the smallish Davis, who as a high school sophomore was once taken aback by anyone who even wanted to talk to him after a game.
Davis was a 5-foot-8, 160-pound twig back then who could stretch the floor as a knockdown shooter. He also tended to do the nasty work, assigned to pick up the opposing team’s biggest offensive threat.
Carr, Bostick and Stevens all went to Penn State. Stevens is in the NBA with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Davis wound up at Division III Arcadia, where he had a nice career, leading the Knights in scoring in the COVID-19-shortened 2020-21 season, as well as the two before it.
Da'kQuan Davis (above, in 2019) had a standout career at D-III Arcadia. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Davis always wanted more. Since graduating Roman in 2017, he grew five inches. He put on close to 25 pounds. His dream was to follow his pals Carr, Bostick and Stevens and play D-I basketball.
On Monday, that promise and dedication to himself came to fruition when Davis committed as a graduate transfer to the University of Albany, where he will be reunited with his former Roman coach Matt Griffin, now an assistant coach with the Great Danes.
Davis, who is 6-1, and a stout 185 pounds, led the MAC Freedom in scoring his senior year with a 23.1-point average and was seventh on the team in rebounding (6.5). He matched his career-high with 3.5 assists per game and dropped a season-high 36 points at Wilkes University (Feb. 20, 2021) and collected a double-double last that season with 31 points and 14 rebounds against Alvernia University in the MAC Crossover Challenge (Mar. 18).
This version of Davis is a far, far different athlete than the bony kid who hung on the perimeter during his Roman days.
“To be honest, I didn’t see this coming,” said Davis, who will graduate this May from Arcadia with a sports management degree. “After my freshman year, coach (Chris) McNesby told me I could help them on the varsity. I put my hard hat on over the summertime and I played my last three years on varsity at Roman. I didn’t rule out playing D-I in high school, playing every day against guys like Tone Carr, Nazeer Bostick, and Lamar. They all went on to play Division I. That built up a lot of confidence to think I could ultimately go somewhere, but given my physical frame, and how tall I was at the time, I knew it wouldn’t be on as big a level as those three.
“I continued to grind every day. I kept working. I didn’t give up. I kept faith alive with guys like Tone Carr, who kept my confidence going. He would kick my butt every single day, but he would keep telling me, ‘Quan, keep working, keep working,’ and if I felt like I was in a shooting slump, he would tell me, ‘Quan, keep shooting, you can really shoot, you’re really helping this team out.’ A lot of it came from motivation playing against them.”
At Arcadia, Davis started all four years. His game became more versatile. He made great strides under coach Justin Scott, then the Knights’ head coach and now an assistant coach at St. Joseph’s under Billy Lange. Scott made Davis a point guard. What also occurred was a late transformation. Davis underwent a growth spurt. He got taller. He added slabs of muscle.
As Davis was being interviewed for this story in the Wells Fargo Center main concourse during a recent 76ers game, curious fans passing by thought he was a Philadelphia Eagles’ running back or defensive back. Some even asked Davis to take a picture with their kids.
Davis (above, at the Sixers' game on Sunday) is ready for the physicality of the Division I level. (Photo: Joseph Santoliquito/CoBL)
“I was able to develop my game and that came with getting bigger physically,” Davis said. “I didn’t know I would grow in college. I had an opportunity at North Texas. I committed to North Texas to transfer in the beginning of my senior year in November 2020. They expected me to be a grad transfer, but as my senior year moved forward, they found I needed an extra year to graduate. I wanted to align my priorities and my biggest priority was graduating college.”
Davis finds himself in a win-win situation. He’s getting a chance to play another year of basketball, with the hopes of grabbing someone’s attention for an opportunity to play in the G League or Europe. He will graduate. He’s 23 and gets to live his dream.
“This is like a dream coming true, but at the same time, it’s something that I always thought I could get it done,” Davis said. “Anything worth having doesn’t come easy. Coach Scott would always stress never get too high with the wins or get too low with the losses. Seeing all my friends playing Division I motivated me. You have to work every day to make it happen. I wasn’t about to give up.
“I remember after a game my sophomore year at Roman when I was building a name for myself some reporter wanted to talk to me. I was like, ‘He wants to talk to me?’ I never thought it would play out like this. I can’t wait to get started at Albany.”
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who began writing for CoBL in 2021 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on Twitter here.