Rashad Davis used to show up to basketball practice at Estancia High in the spring of his sophomore year just to watch the boys' team.
Davis had just transferred to the school from Roosevelt of Corona, where he missed his sophomore season. It seemed he wasn't interested in playing at his new school.
"He was telling us that he was going to come out," said Estancia Coach Agustin Heredia, who found it hard to buy that Davis wanted to join the program.
While the Eagles ran drills two years ago, Davis, in street clothes, sat up against the gym's bleachers and just followed the action.
Heredia was surprised that a 6-foot-4 kid like Davis wasn't out there running around with the rest of his players.
"We don't grow kids that size," Heredia joked.
Davis just sat around, wondering what it would be like to be a part of the Eagles. He asked himself questions like, "Will I fit in? Will the coach like me?"
Then he questioned if he could handle the workouts.
"I'm out of shape," Davis said. "I got to do something to get back in shape."
Davis had to first shape up in the classroom.
The real reason why Davis wasn't with the Eagles that spring and in the summer before his junior season was grades.
Rausheda Hickman didn't allow Davis, her son, to play any sport. That says a lot because Davis' mother starred on the court at Grant Rapid Ottawa Hills High in Michigan. Davis said his mother led her program to a state title before going on to play at Oregon State and Florida.
"She wanted me to just focus on school," said Davis, whose basketball schedule as a freshman at Roosevelt affected his schoolwork. "I told [Heredia] I had to … check with my mom to make sure my mom and I were on the same page.
"She said as long as I keep my grades up, then I can play. I did what I had to do. I put school first. It really got me going. I got all the help that I could get."
Davis needed all the help in basketball when he came out for the team last season.
Heredia's glad Davis was willing to get better.
As a 6-6 junior, Davis was tall enough to excel, but he was like a raw thin steak.
"He had a hard time doing basic fundamental things," Heredia said. "He had a growth spurt and he didn't catch up … with the moving and coordination."
Getting comfortable in his own shoes took time, one season, and a lot of hard work.
All of it has paid off as Davis has turned into one of the best big men in the area in his senior year.
How far Davis has come since he was a junior is a tremendous leap if you ask Heredia. Davis, who is 6-7 and 190 pounds now, can now dunk a basketball.
He gained 20 pounds in the offseason. The added weight has elevated his game.
Davis is doing it all for the Eagles this season. He can score, rebound, and block shots. He is averaging 18.2 points, 15.3 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game.
Where would Estancia (9-9, 0-1 in Orange Coast League) be without Davis?
"We wouldn't win a game if we didn't have him," said Heredia, who saw Davis lead the host Eagles to a 44-36 comeback nonleague victory against Newport Harbor last week.
Davis recorded eight of his 12 points in the fourth quarter and converted all four of his free throws in the final eight minutes. He grabbed 17 rebounds, his 16th double-double performance of the season.
The victory was impressive considering the Sailors are a much bigger school than Estancia. More importantly, the Eagles won after dropping five of their previous six contests.
"We wanted to do it for coach because we hadn't won in awhile," Davis said. "Coach Heredia is the type of coach who likes to have fun, but he also likes to win. When we're on the court, it's all about business. When we're in practice, it's all about business. If you're not taking care of business, then you're not going to play for him."
Davis has earned his chance to perform for the Eagles.
Heredia knows Davis has a shot to do it on a bigger stage in three or four years if he continues to develop.
"I get a call a day from a junior college coach and they all envision, three or four years down the road, lots of potential," Heredia said of Davis, who is leaning toward attending Saddleback College before he plans to transfer to a Division I program.
"I feel bad because we don't have anybody [with his size] to push him here. He's certainly helped us out, and hopefully he's building some confidence."
Davis said he feels confident, thanks to Heredia and the rest of the staff. Heredia can see it, because Davis no longer shows up to practice just to watch. Davis leads now.
Born: Aug. 26, 1994
Hometown: Grand Rapids, Mich.
Weight: 190 pounds
Coach: Agustin Heredia
Favorite food: Tacos
Favorite movie: "8 Mile"
Favorite athletic moment: "My first time dunking on someone. [It happened during] travel ball [this past summer]."
Week in review: Davis finished with 12 points and 17 rebounds, leading the host Eagles to a 44-36 comeback nonleague victory against Newport Harbor.