BACK IN TOWN: Doug Davis running the show during his career with the Princeton University men’s basketball team. Davis, a former Hun School standout and all-time Princeton great, is returning to the area this winter to take the helm of the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball program. The Panthers started their season by defeating Pennington 65-59 on Friday in the opening round of the Solebury (Pa.) Shootout before falling 67-59 to the George School (Pa.) in the title game a day later. PDS hosts the Shipley School (Pa.) on December 6 before playing at the George School (Pa.) on December 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Doug Davis stands out as a leading light on the Princeton basketball scene in the last decade
After a stellar career for the Hun School boys’ basketball team, where he scored more than 1,000 points and helped the Raiders to the state Prep A title in 2007, Davis went on to Princeton University and joined its men’s basketball program.
Over his four years with the Tigers, Davis scored 1,550 points, the second most in program history at the time of his graduation in 2012, and famously hit the buzzer beater against Harvard in the Ivy League playoff as a junior that sent the Tigers to the NCAA tournament.
Now Davis is returning to the local hoops scene, taking the helm of the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team.
As Davis works with his new players, he will be drawing on his Princeton experience.
“I don’t think you can go through Princeton and play at Princeton and not incorporate that style of basketball of offense and defense into the way you teach the game,” said Davis, who was the head coach at the Berkshire School (Mass.) the last two years.
A big part of that approach centers on daily work ethic. “The guys have been in the gym; it is establishing that basketball culture,” said Davis.
“It was such a part of my development as a player, getting in the gym. If you are taking basketball seriously and you are trying to play at the next level, then you are in the gym working out. Most of our guys were in there; training and trying to get ready as best they can for the varsity season. It is really good.”
Last weekend, the Panthers got off to a good start, defeating rival Pennington 65-59 on Friday in the opening round of the Solebury (Pa.) Shootout before falling 67-59 to the George School (Pa.) in the title game a day later.
Davis is looking for senior star guard David “Diggy” Coit to take things to a higher level this winter.
“He is small but he has a lot of game to him,” said Davis. “He is gong to be huge for our team. We are really relying on his leadership this year at guard to be able to put people in position, when to score, when not to score, when to pass, when not to pass and being the pulse of our team.”
A pair of sophomores, Dameon Samuels and Freddie Young Jr., also bring a lot of game to the table in the backcourt.
“We will be relying on those two as well to be leaders in their own right and step into that role,” said Davis, who will also be using junior Jomar Meekins at guard.
“They are no longer freshmen, they shouldn’t be making the same mistakes that they made last year. I am going to coach them hard because I feel like they are the future of the program.”
Junior Jaylin Champion will be hard to stop in a swing role for the Panthers.
“I have him bouncing back and forth between guard and forward,” added Davis. “As he moves into that next level, Jaylin is going to have to be able to handle the ball or at least prove he can handle it up top. He is so very explosive.”
In the frontcourt, Davis will be looking for junior transfer Lucas Green and senior Jimmy O’Connor to handle things in the paint.
“Lucas Green is going be very important for us,” said Davis. “He is very versatile, he can shoot, he can put the ball on the floor and he also has the ability to post, which is important. He is about 6’4; he can do a lot in the league as far as facing up. He can play good defense in the post, he is going to be good for us. We have Jimmy O’Connor who is going to be playing in the middle as well.”
Davis believes that the Panthers can win a lot of games this winter if they play an intelligent brand of basketball.
“We have to cut down on making some of those mental mistakes, even though we do have a relatively young team,” said Davis, whose team hosts the Shipley School (Pa.) on December 6 before playing at the George School on December 8.
“I feel in this day and age where three-pointer is so important that these guys are chucking those threes really quickly. It is knowing when to use the time and knowing when to get a bucket. Just being smart is going to be key for us and making shots, of course.”