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ZH: First, you were just in Spokane for the Few's cancer fund benefit. What former Zags were there? It must've been fun to trip down memory lane and renew friendships.
JD: The Coaches vs. Cancer benefit was a great event. Mark and Marcy did a wonderful job, and put on a very classy event.
The guys from Gonzaga during my playing years that were at the gala were Geoff Goss and Jeff Brown. I also had the chance to catch up with Mike Nilson for a bit - he is such a great guy and is a perfect example of the Gonzaga family. The sense of community there is very strong for me – having played at GU seems to create something unique between guys regardless of when they played there – I suppose once a Zag, always a Zag!
I saw many boosters, alumni and supporters that were with us in the early days. It was a wonderful chance to catch up with many people I see only once every couple of years.
ZH: You watched a scrimmage in The Kennel. Give us some of your impressions of this year's Zags. Who or what impressed you most?
JD: I think the Zags are poised for a terrific year. The guys seem so much bigger than when I playing, both in height and frame size, and they are very athletic.
It is tough to tell in only watching 45 minutes of pick-up ball, but I have always thought that Corey Violette is great – in my opinion, he will be a pro. He is so dominant physically and he is really skilled. Most importantly I think he has the mindset - he is a tough kid.
I think Blake Stepp should have a very good year as well, provided he stays injury-free. He certainly is a big point guard who can really shoot it. Fox, the transfer from Colorado, looked good as well.
ZH: You said Gonzaga was like a big family and that your best pals today are still your former teammates. Tell us about your wedding and how the GU family was evident.
JD: My wife Jayne and I were married 4 years ago on her family ranch in Lakeview, Oregon. All the fellas came, and 5 of them were in my wedding. They all "participated" at the reception, and true to form, represented the Zags well! But it was a memorable time, with the most important people in my life there to share it with Jayne and me.
Truly my best friends are from my playing days at GU. Guys like Geoff Goss, Jamie Dudley, Matt Stanford, Marty Wall and Jeff Brown are guys that 10 years later I still talk to almost every week.
My experience at GU was one of the most influential parts of my life. The friendships I made there will last a lifetime. Every teammate was a quality guy, and all are very successful people today.
ZH: What was your most memorable game as a Zag? Who was the toughest guy you had to guard, and why?
JD: [laughs] Wow, tough questions. I remember so many for so many different reasons. From a team perspective, it would be our win against Santa Clara my senior year in the WCC tournament. It was our 20th win – the first 20 win season in GU history – and gave us a chance to play Pepperdine in the championship game the next night on ESPN. It also spurred Eric Brady to dump a water cooler on Fitz in the locker room after the win – which was very entertaining to see a soaked Fitz at the post-game press conference!
From an individual standpoint, I would have to say our win my junior year over Portland in 1991 at home, the night the Gulf War began (wow, that makes me sound old!) It was a big come-from-behind win, and I will let the fellas tell you why it was so memorable!
One other game I think stands out for me. My junior year we played a tournament at the University of Montana. We lost the first game to St. Peters College, and played SW Texas State the next night. I had red-shirted my first year at GU, so it was my first real experience playing for Fitz. I had a miserable first half, and we were down by 20 points or so. I think I racked up something like 2 points and 4 turnovers in the first half. Fitz spent the entire half time about 4 inches from my face, screaming at me.
I was so nervous and thought my career was over before it even started! In my mind the second half was do-or-die, so I went out and scored something like 28 points in the second half and we won the game. In retrospect, that was a bad move on my part because Fitz believed that this was the way to motivate me. So over the next 2 years every time Fitz wanted to light a fire under me, he proceeded to spend the half times parting my hair! Needless to say I got a little tired of his seeing his red Irish face in mine! But Fitz is a great friend, and taught me many things about basketball and life. I have a lot of respect for him.
The toughest guy I had to guard was Terrell Lowery from Loyola-Marymount. No matter what I did, he always seemed to have 40 points on me – but I think it was because Brownie [Jeff Brown] never played help defense – or defense at all!![laughs]
ZH: How do you think your game and your career would've been different if Monson or Few had been coach back then?
JD: [Laughs] Well, I probably wouldn't have been yelled at as much!! Fitz was great, but from a coaching standpoint, probably didn't fit my playing style as well as Few or Mons would have. Fitz was a great practice coach, and an outstanding teacher – he just got a little too emotional during games! Let's just say that Fitz didn't always help my confidence – I learned that seeing a towel flying up in the air after a missed shot meant I was headed to the bench. But I wouldn't change things – I feel like I had a great career, and the friends I made will be life-long.
Mark, Billy and Monson were all with GU when I played, and all are still great friends. In fact, Mark came in the same year as I did in 1989. Mark is a great coach, and spent hours with me when I was red-shirting.
ZH: You've blazed quite a trail since graduation. Can you give us a year-by-year account of Jarrod Davis' life after GU and up until today?
JD: Not sure that your readers would want a year-by-year account for the last 10 years – I am not that interesting! However I will give you a quick summary.
After leaving GU, I spent the summer with the Blazers at their rookie camp in Salt Lake City. After figuring out quickly that I was over my head, I went to Portugal for about a month and a half. The team was more like a high school team rather than a professional team, so I returned home and worked for Ernst and Young. I went to law school in 1994 at the University of Oregon and graduated in 1997. I married my wife Jayne in 1998 who I met at law school, and we moved to Boise, Idaho, where I worked for Hewlett-Packard and then went on to practice law.
In 2001, we moved to Klamath Falls, Oregon, and both Jayne and I work for JELD-WEN, Inc.
ZH: What is your position at JELD-WEN and what are your responsibilities there? Tell us about JELD-WEN.
JD: JELD-WEN is Oregon's largest privately held company, and the largest manufacturer of windows, doors and millwork in the world. It has about 25,000 employees in 19 countries. I handle our Corporate Development Division, which oversees all of JELD-WEN's mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures. We do around 10-15 acquisitions per year, so it keeps me moving. This year I have been all over the United States, to Paris twice, Australia twice, and Santiago, Chile.
ZH: Fill us in on the Davis family. What activities does your family enjoy? Any children?
JD: The Davis family currently consists of Jayne and me – but we have our first little one on the way! Jayne is due in May, and we are both very excited.
As far as activities, we spent a lot of time at her family's ranch in Lakeview, Oregon, as well as traveling quite a bit. The last couple of years we were fortunate enough to see many of GU's games during the NCAA's.
ZH: Finally, perhaps the best question for last. You know the real reason why Jeff Brown ended up at Gonzaga and not Montana or no college at all. Tell us about what happened and the role you had in it. Do you believe Brown would've been a Zag if you had said nothing?
JD: Ah yes, Jeff Brown – Mr. Spokane! [laughs] Jeff was a sophomore when I was a senior at Mead high school. We played together that year, and I was aware of his high school career during my first two years in college.
Brown didn't "see the court much" during his freshman year at UW, so I told Fitz I wanted to get in touch with him and see what his plans were. Fitz was excited because he recruited Jeff heavily out of high school. I called his parents and talked with them a little about what Jeff was going to do – and his mom told me he was thinking about quitting basketball and just going to school at UW. This, I thought, was quite ridiculous, and of course it gave me massive ammunition to call and berate him! After I took the tough road of going to a community college in order to play Division I basketball, the thought of a guy with Jeff's talent just quitting didn't sit well with me!
I called Jeff and told him get his %^$#@ to GU, choosing to use a diverse selection of adjectives to make fun of this inclination that he was considering quitting basketball! I also told him to cancel any visit he may have scheduled to the University of Montana, and that GU was the place for him. I knew he would choose to transfer to GU, and I will give myself the credit – I knew he would be great. I guaranteed Fitz that he would be a 3-year all-league player, and I was right!
It was a hard sell to the guys however. Jeff came over and played a pick-up game with us that spring, and to put it kindly, he was horrible!! I had built up the prospect to the fellas of Jeff transferring to GU, and they were expecting a star. Pick-up hoop has never been one of Jeff's fortes, and Jamie Dudley and Geoff Goss were not too impressed!! I explained that they had to trust me on this one, and once the lights came on at game time, Jeff showed his true colors, and turned out to be a tremendous star.