WILMINGTON – Former North Carolina basketball star and current Washington Wizard Hubert Davis is firmly entrenched in the lengthy traditions of Carolina basketball. Now, along with a few other Tar Heels, he'd like to be ingrained in a Carolina-like tradition in the nation's capital.
Davis, who was acquired last season by the Wizards, is excited about the new season and playing with the legendary Michael Jordan. After averaging 7.9 points per game in 25.6 minutes a game of action, the 1992 UNC graduate is ready for the season and has worked extremely hard to prepare for his role with the club.
Davis had plenty to say after a recent practice at the Wizards' preseason camp at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Here is a transcript of the former UNC great (and the nephew of current Wizards' scout Walter Davis).
On playing with so many former Carolina players.
"We talk about coach (Dean) Smith and coach (Bill) Guthridge on the court. It's really nice to play with Carolina guys. We all went through the same experiences and we all play together really well because we know what to expect from each other."
About having a Duke influence on the team with Christian Laettner and coach Doug Collins, whose son, Chris, played at Duke and is currently an assistant there.
"I hate to say this (laughing), but Laettner and I are good friends. So, we were rivals playing when I was in college but we have put that all to the side now as teammates."
On if anything about Michael's play has been a surprise.
"Nothing really surprised me. He plays like someone from North Carolina. Unbelievable. Unselfish. He was willing to teach during the game and it was a real joy to sit here watching him and a joy to play with him."
On maybe being revitalized seeing Jordan as he (Davis) enters his tenth season.
"Nah. It doesn't get me going. I'm very comfortable and fortunate every day that I am here, to be here 10 years in the NBA is a blessing. Just waking up in the morning gets me energized."
On how Jordan is playing defensively.
"Oh tremendous. I think that's what he brings to the team – a defensive presence. Last year pretty much every team had the ability to score but it starts on the defensive end. And we've got somebody out there that not only plays hard defensively but knows how to play it. It's great knowing we have someone like that."
On if there is an excitement with Jordan a part of the team on the floor as opposed to sitting in a luxury suite in a suit.
"There's hope. We have hope this year because there is excitement and I think more of an understanding of what needs to be done. If we keep working hard every day we have a good chance at surprising a lot of people."
On the kind of player Jordan is.
"Michael is a great unselfish player. It's not like, ‘give me the ball, clear out and watch what I can do.' He passes, plays defense, rebounds. He is the consummate team player. It is very easy to fit in with him when he is on the court."
On how Michael's style can help Davis' game as an outside shooter.
"I love the opportunity for someone to be able to create who can find open people. I and others can spot up and we have confidence he will find us. In Chicago the supporting cast hit big shots and I think it is our job, when in that situation, to do the same."
On what his role will be.
"I don't know for sure yet. I just need to go out and play hard. This is my tenth year. I can't tell you how excited and blessed I am going to be a ten-year veteran. I am just going to come out and work hard and be an example to the younger guys and whatever my defined role is I will do what I have to in order to execute.
On coming out of high school never even considering he would be in the NBA this long, or if at all.
"No, I didn't (think he would). I never thought that I would have done the things that I did at North Carolina and to be in the NBA for ten years. So every day is just a dream come true. I am just enjoying myself."
On (Brendan) Haywood playing well so far.
"Yes he has. Brendan is a great basketball player and again, another guy from North Carolina. Coach Guthridge taught him well down low. He's a tremendous force and I'm really happy to be playing with him."
On the difference of a player like Haywood, who played four years in college, as opposed to the many players that come out early, like Wizards 2001 first-round pick Kwame Brown, who was in high school last year.
"I really support people going to school. I think academically you need it because basketball doesn't last forever and I think socially you grow as a person. Kwame is doing a great job. He is not only mature but he is ready to play the pro game. I think he and Brendan both belong here."
On playing with a lot of ACC guys.
"It's great to have a lot of ACC guys here. Chris Whitney (Clemson), Laettner and I have known each other since high school. All the guys from North Carolina. Courtney (Alexander who played two years at Virginia). It is just really enjoyable to play with guys who know about what it's like to play with that intensity."
On Collins' son a former player and current coach at Duke as well as Laettner, who starred at Duke.
"Yeah, coach Collins is a Duke fan so it's gonna be tough during basketball season but, Laettner and I are best friends on the team and he's a great guy and it's really a pleasure to play with him."
On gauging Jordan's return to the NBA and in sport in general.
"I don't know. Even in New York, a lot of stuff is pretty crazy there, but I've never seen anything like this (horde of media)."
On when he knew when Jordan was coming back.
"The day you guys knew. We didn't know either way what was going on and we're just glad to have him."
Andrew Jones is in his sixth year covering football and basketball for Inside Carolina. He also in his fourth year as a copy editor and staff writer for the Wilmington Star-News and hosts a nightly radio show on WAAV-AM980 in Wilmington. He has also written for ACCNews and once published The College Game and the former Total Sports. He can be reached via e-mail at: AJWAAV@aol.com.