The Fountain Valley High boys’ basketball team returned to practice after scraping out a three-point win at Huntington Beach in the Wave League opener.
For the first 30 minutes of practice, no one touched a basketball. Instead, the Barons were put through their paces. Fountain Valley coach D’Cean Bryant had his players grind from the start.
They closed out on imaginary jump shooters, dove for would-be loose balls, and did sprints up and down the length of the floor.
Bryant meant to send a message that his team needed to be mentally tough and set all excuses aside. It was a tough practice, and junior Jeremiah Davis was the one leading the group.
After a round of sprints, Davis went up the baseline, high-fiving each individual player and encouraging them to keep doing the work. The coach and the player have both been at the school for three years now, and they know they can count on each other.
“If you can’t hold yourself accountable and you can’t lead yourself, don’t think that these guys are going to follow behind you,” Bryant said. “[Davis is] starting to come into that role, and that is what it is about.
“That’s always the message. If you’re in, there’s no halfway. There’s no, ‘When I feel like it.’ You’ve got to be engaged at all times, so he’s kind of taken on that role, and it’s been good for him and Preston [Amarillo].”
Davis and Amarillo knew each other before high school. They played together on an AAU team called the Regulators.
“We have a good connection,” Davis said. “We’ve been playing with each other for a while, like two years before high school, and then throughout high school. It’s like a buddy-buddy type [of relationship]. We’re close.”
Another person close to Davis is his mother Keidra. Nowadays, she is her son’s flashcards partner as he attempts to learn Spanish. Having raised Davis by herself since the age of 3, she has taught him many lessons. At one point, she even showed him how to pay a bill.
He said his father left at that young age. He does not forget how that hurt his family. At that point, Davis was put into a host of sports. He latched onto basketball and football, which allowed him to play aggressively and provided an outlet for anger.
A running back and wide receiver on the football field, Davis gave his full attention to basketball in high school. The junior shooting guard wanted to protect his basketball career and avoid potential injury.
Basketball has supplied a support system, also giving him a platform to find inner strength.
Davis does not fear the moment. He has grown in confidence, and he has become the one that his teammates want to follow.
“I know what I have and what talent I have,” Davis said. “I can basically play against anybody. I’m not going to back down from nothing. Nothing is going to stop me from playing my game.”
Fountain Valley finds itself in the thick of the playoff hunt, seeking a CIF Southern Section postseason berth for the first time in Davis’ career. He is averaging 22 points, six rebounds and two steals per game.
The Barons are 13-7 overall and 2-1 in the Wave League. Davis had 30 points, eight rebounds and four steals in an 80-60 win at Marina on Friday.
“My aspirations [are] to make sure I [am] the best leader I can be, help everybody grow as a team and for themselves also,” Davis said. “[My goals are] to make the team better and keep going to reach our goals.”
Bryant considers basketball to be just part of his job description as a coach. He emphasizes the importance of staying grounded in a world of instant gratification.
His philosophy is that success is attainable if everyone is tugging the proverbial rope in the same direction.
After serving as an assistant coach at two high-profile programs in Riverside King and Orange Lutheran, Bryant preaches patience when it comes to the recruiting process. San Jose State is among the early schools to show interest in Davis.
“It takes a village to get this done for each kid,” said Bryant, who played college basketball at Long Beach State. “For Jeremiah, I think he has a true shot of playing Division 1 basketball, but he has to understand that everyone at the next level is athletic. Everyone at the next level is explosive.
“What do you do? Are you willing to do the little things that are going to make you better? Are you willing to [fill] up the lane defensively? Are you willing to make high-end close-outs? Are you willing to box out every time? Are you willing to do the dirty work?”
Davis grew up fast to get to where he is. There is no reason to believe that he will not continue working to get to where he wants to be.
Born: March, 31, 2003
Height: 6 feet 3
Weight: 180 pounds
Coach: D’Cean Bryant
Favorite food: Tacos
Favorite movie: “Coach Carter”
Favorite athletic moment: Davis said he dunked in a high school game for the first time against JSerra in an offseason tournament at Westminster High.
Week in review: The junior shooting guard led Fountain Valley to a pair of wins against Corona del Mar and Huntington Beach. Davis had 24 points, six rebounds and three steals in Fountain Valley’s 62-55 win at home over the Sea Kings.
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