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Q&A with former Bremerton High School basketball star Miah Davis
Miah Davis, the 30-year-old former basketball player from Bremerton High School, returned from his sixth professional basketball season in Europe to host the second annual Bremerton Jaguars Basketball Camp, July 11 – 15 at Bremerton High School.
Last year, Davis expected about 50 or 60 kids to attend, but about 140 eager kids showed up on the first day of camp, he said.
The camp is led by Davis, fellow Bremerton alumni and former players or people associated with the Jaguars, a non-profit organization.
Davis played three seasons for Bremerton between 1996 and 1999. The first two seasons, he played under Coach Larry Gallagher—who retired after Davis’ junior year season. Casey Lindberg filled the coaching position for Davis’ senior year.
After graduating in 1999, Davis traveled to California. He first attended Medesto Junior College, where he played under Coach Mike Terpstra. Davis followed Terpstra his next year to play one season at the University of California Stenslaus State. Next he transferred to the University of the Pacific, where he red-shirted one season and played two seasons during the following two years.
After completing his two seasons, Davis graduated from the University of the Pacific with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications.
Next Davis played one season with the Ronoake Dazzle, a Virginia team in the National Basketball Development League.
Then he traveled to Europe to continue his career, where he still plays today. Since arriving, he has played for professional teams in Poland, Germany and Athens. Next year, he will play for the Lueven Bears in Belgium.
While playing in Poland, Davis met his wife, Sylwia. The two now have a three-year-old son, Jalen.
On July 8, the Bremerton Patriot/Central Kitsap Reporter sat down with Davis to discuss his career, plans for the future and goals for kids who attend his camp this year.
Q - What’s your favorite memory from your Bremerton High School season?
A - The one that stands out was when we won the Olympic league championship and we celebrated in CK’s gym in their locker room with a bunch of bubbly, non alcoholic bubbly—you know apple cider. And we were spraying it around the locker room like we just won the NBA championship. It was, like, the greatest thing.
Q - What’s the most valuable lesson you learned from playing basketball in college?
A - I would say discipline. I had to discipline myself. You know, ‘cause you get easily distracted, especially when you’re younger.
Q - Who was your favorite player growing up?
A - Probably like every other kid my age, Michael Jordan. And then Isaiah Thomas ‘cause he’s relentless, and he’s a short guard like me. I can’t play like them, I can only play like myself. But those two, when you look at them they’re always engaged in the game. So I always try to do the same, engage myself in every aspect of the game.
Q - Who had the biggest influence on you growing up?
A - Probably my parents, and my church. And God — I read the Bible, I’m a firm believer. … I grew up in a church, and so they always, if you get out of line, someone is always there to set you straight, you know? Nobody let me, they always put everything right in front of me so it was up to me to basically, you know, take it and run with it. … Those three things in my life are key.
Q - What is different about playing basketball in Europe compared to playing basketball in the states?
A - A lot of players, Americans in general, they can’t adapt to the European style of play. It’s a lot more, um, physical. And they want results as soon as you get over that water, it’s like a given. And it’s a lot of pressure. In Europe, … they’re in control — where if I had a bad game, they’ll send me back home. That’s a lot of pressure for anybody, and a lot of players cant adapt to that.
Q - What are you most looking forward to about playing for the Lueven Bears in Belgium?
A - Just, to win. I’ve lost two championships and that’s still, that’s not sitting with me very well. So I’m looking to get a championship — win first and then you get your championship. It’s like the reward. So, two silvers and a bronze doesn’t look good if I had a trophy case. You know, it would look better if I had a gold medal in there, or something to solidify that I’m a winner. It doesn’t matter what level it is, but like Ricky Bobby said, ‘if you’re not first, you’re last.’
Q - How do you balance spending time with your family and practicing basketball?
A - You know, it just comes with the territory. You’ve got to practice your art, that’s the only way to get better. If you sluff off, somebody’s gonna take your spot. So I’m 30 now, and I always tell people, I can’t let these thunder cats take my job. ... It’s not tough because my family, they know what I love to do, and so they accept me how I accepted them. So it makes it easy if you can accept each other for what you are and what you do.
Q - Do you want your son to follow in your basketball footsteps?
No, that’s why I didn’t name him after me. I thought, uh, I just want him to be his own man, his own Jalen. ... If he does follow my footsteps he’s got a long road ‘cause I’ll probably be his worst nightmare. … I plan on getting into coaching and I hope he doesn’t want to play for me, ‘cause then it will be a, you can’t really be a coach and a father cause then you single players out. … So it’s better for me to just come watch him play and nag and help him grow off and on the court.
Q - What does the future hold for you?
A - I’ve got a lot of, maybe ten ideas, not ideas, but ten things I want to accomplish. Get my masters in communications, and finish my engineering degree— at least minor in it. Be a coach. An AD, so I can play golf on the weekends. Every AD I’ve ever known, now that’s all they do — work on their golf swing, you know? But I just want to be involved with sports still. I don’t know if I’m ready for a behind the desk job just yet. … But to give back to the kids is probably my number one — give back to the community, the things I didn’t have. And I’ve gained knowledge over the years to not only help them but help, you know, bring the community in to help the kids.
Q - What’s most rewarding about returning to Bremerton to run a youth basketball camp?
A - Smiles. I love to smile. And when you’re smiling, you know, you forget about all your problems. And, that’s what I try to get the kids to do. They’re smiling, they’re having fun and I’m having fun, you know? If you have problems at home or anything like that, you can always say, you know, basketball is my stress reliever.
Q - What’s different about working with kids than with your adult team mates?
A - Oh, kids listen. Their ears are like, you know, antennas. They’re receiving everything, it’s just like, getting them to register that the idea of being a teammate and being a team is a hard concept to grasp — especially when you’re that young because you don’t know too much, you just know enough. … They’re just so simple. They’re like sponges. And, you just gotta try to ring ‘em out, you know? Ring ‘em out and put more water in their brains, you know, like a sponge.
Q - What do you hope kids will take away from the Jaguars Basketball Camp?
I guess I just try to implement the fact that basketball is, you can use it as a stepping stone. So I guess, when I’m putting the camp together, it’s basically a stepping stone for them, to you know, use in life. ‘Cause it was my stepping stone. I just kept stepping and stepping and stepping and look where I am now.
Q - What advice do you have for high school players who want to play basketball professionally?
Practice. Practice, and put down Play Stations. … If you play anywhere, I played in, there’s a little church right next to the Bremerton high school. ... And if I couldn’t get in the high school, I’d be right there shooting. There’s hoops everywhere, they just have to be dedicated to the game. Only good things happen when you dedicate yourself to anything.