Quron Davis is so tall he has been barred from riding at least one roller coaster at Six Flags Great America and his mother, Charlene Davis, jokes she's the only person she knows who has to clean fingerprints off of her home's ceiling.
At 6 feet 9, he has the type of height that sticks out during Simeon warmups, the type that attracted a handful of Division I college programs like Chicago State, where he will play next season.
But what stands out to his family and team is Davis' perseverance in a Simeon program that has the luxury of keeping a player of his stature on the bench in favor of starters Jabari Parker and Russell Woods.
The senior reserve center, known as Q to his teammates, doesn't see a point in pouting about lost playing time.
"I have a positive attitude," Davis said. "Pouting is not going to get me anywhere. I might as well just show them in the gym that I should be playing more. Actions speak louder than words."
Fighting to improve
In grammar school, Davis was a self-described geek who even now loves video games so much he wants to design them for a living. Basketball became his next love, and Carl Davis noticed his son didn't back down from a challenge.
Davis learned some of that fight from his father. Carl "Iron Fist" Davis is a former football player at Julian and in the Canadian Football League who is now a professional boxer. Quron Davis prefers basketball over boxing, but he sometimes spars with his dad, who provides a model for toughness.
"He's real playful. I fight with him all the time," Davis said. "Once you get hit, you're not scared of contact. He's a real aggressive type. Football and boxing are real aggressive sports, so being with him, I'm not scared of contact."
Charlene Davis originally wanted her son to attend the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, which she said would be a safer bus ride from their apartment in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood. But Davis set his sights on Simeon, so she agreed to drive him to and from school.
Davis began on the freshman and sophomore teams, dropping about 50 pounds with conditioning. Simeon coach Robert Smith calls him "a work in progress" and said he would like to see improvement in his footwork, stamina and quickness. That means Davis sees less work in games than in practice, where he provides a big body to challenge Parker and Woods.
"Nobody even thought he would be able to play basketball here, let alone be on the varsity team, when he first came here," Smith said. "But he never gave up. … I like his motivation and his determination. He could have transferred and gone somewhere else and played, but he wanted to be here, and he wanted to get better."
Davis said he has had other coaches approach him about leaving Simeon.
"They were like, 'You're not playing at Simeon. You could come here, transfer, be our star player,'" Davis said. "I decided to stick through it and stay at Simeon.
"I don't like to give up on stuff like that. … Transferring would be giving up on myself."
Rolling with punches
Davis has taken his share of hits at Simeon, including Parker's elbow to his face during practice in mid-January. One of Davis' front teeth was knocked out, a cut in his mouth needed stitches and he missed three games.
Much more difficult was the ankle injury that disrupted his progress between his sophomore to junior seasons. Davis broke and tore ligaments in his left ankle during an AAU spring game, spent months in rehab and barely could touch the rim upon his return. He spent most of last season regaining his form.
"He was a little hesitant on it a lot last year, and now he's finally not thinking about it anymore," Smith said.
During his recovery, Davis needed encouragement from his father and teammates Parker and Rickey Norris, who told him an opportunity would come if he continued to work. Davis took advantage of one in the offseason, when during an open gym he drew attention from Chicago State. He hopes to fill the need for a big man at the South Side college, though he knows he still has to work on finishing inside.
"Some people, if they're beat or see someone who is better than them, they back down or quit," Carl Davis said. "What I love about Quron is he never backed down or quit."
When Davis seizes the moment with a dunk, it's often met with shouts of excitement from some teammates. He had two points and four rebounds in Simeon's game at Coronado (Nev.) and another two points, three rebounds, two steals and a block against Urban Prep West in the first round of the Public League tournament Tuesday.
"Even though he doesn't play a lot, he brings a lot of heart to the team," Woods said. "Anybody who signed with Division I and can be on the bench a lot, that shows his true personality. He's a good person. I love playing against Q."
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