In-Depth: Davis Comes Full Circle

I go in-depth with Roman Davis about the road that led him to Cal, a road that led him through three college coaching changes ...



California added to its 2015 class rather unexpectedly on Wednesday, committing Los Angeles Windward three-star 6-foot-7, 195-pound power forward Roman Davis after an unofficial visit on Tuesday.

Sources close to the team have not been able to comment about whether or not 2015 commit Davon Dillard will make it to campus, and it is a possibility that Davis is essentially taking Dillard’s spot in this class, and from Davis’s comments, that appears to be the case.

“I had been talking to coach Yanni Hufnagel for about four years, and he called me a couple weeks ago, and told me that some things had happened, and a spot had opened up,” Davis said. “He wanted me to come up to Cal for a visit, and to work out for the coaching staff, to see if I had the chance to be on the team, and they said that I could get a scholarship, so I came out and worked out yesterday, and they offered me a scholarship today. I committed on the spot.”

It wasn’t the first time that Davis had been on the Cal campus. He came out in 2013, while the Mike Montgomery staff was still running the program.

“I had visited Cal’s campus with the Montgomery staff, and I immediately fell in love with it, so I already knew I was going to like the campus,” said Davis, who also got to see the new practice facility, and the improvements to Haas Pavilion, this time around. “Meeting coach [Cuonzo] Martin and the rest of the staff in person, just to see how they interact with their players, it’s more of a family atmosphere, rather than a player-coach atmosphere, and I really wanted to be a part of that.

“I heard good stuff after my workout. They said that I looked really good. They said that they liked my skills, and that I could play inside and out. They said I was in pretty good shape – that I was more in shape than some of the guys that they currently have. I was sure that I’d commit on the spot if they offered, and I’m just really blessed.”

Coaching changes, it seems, have always played a part in Davis’s recruitment. While an assistant at Harvard, Hufnagel inquired about Davis while he was a freshman on Junior Varsity. Then, Hufnagel left for Vanderbilt, where he continued to recruit Davis, as that staff offered him a scholarship. So did Boston College. So did Arizona State. But, both the ASU and Boston College staffs went by the wayside, and those offers became no longer committable.

Davis had 14 total offers by the time his senior year came and went, including those from Arizona State, Boston College and Vanderbilt, as well as Princeton, Brown, North Dakota State, Weber State, Montana and Loyola Marymount, but he felt he could land a bigger fish.

“I just believed,” Davis said. “I put in a lot of work. I believed I was Pac-12 caliber. My initial thoughts were to go to ASU, but then the coaching staff changed, and that fell off. The same thing happened with Boston College. The staff changed and that fell off. Then, I was going to go prep to give myself one more year to be re-recruited, and give myself a second chance. It was partly pride. I just thought that I was a Pac-12 player, and I did not want to settle.”

Cal turned out to be the right place, with the right people in place, at the right time.

“After he went to Cal, things fell off for a bit, and then a couple weeks ago, it all came together again,” said Davis, who finished high school with a 3.5 GPA. “A campus can be as beautiful as it can be, but if the staff isn’t right, it can totally ruin the experience. I didn’t get a chance to know the Montgomery staff well, but I was going based off of what other players had said, and friends that I’ve had that have gone there.”

Davis is friends with former Bear Kahlil Johnson, who played one season for Cal before quitting. He’s also made the acquaintance of former Bears point guard Justin Cobbs, who works out with the same trainer.

Because seniors can work out for teams after they’ve completed their seasons, Davis came to Cal ready to work, and the staff put him through his paces.

“We went through a lot of drills to see where I was, perimeter-wise and shooting-wise, because that was a big knock on my game – that I wasn’t a very good shooter,” Davis said. “They saw the improvement in my shot, in the release, and they also took me down and did post work with me, to see me finishing with both hands, because another knock was that I don’t use my right, so they said I looked ambidextrous.

“They also saw my athleticism in the workout, and they said I could guard one through five, easily, they believe, especially with added weight that I would gain on the season. They saw me as a defensive stopper, and they said that would most likely be my role on the team, which I have no problem with. I love being a defensive stopper.”

Davis will get back to Berkeley on Sunday night or Monday morning – “as soon as possible,” he says – and, after getting his application in by tonight, will sign a financial aid agreement by the end of the week. He will be with the team I time to ramp up to the August trip to Australia, which he will make with the Bears.


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