According to his high school basketball coach, Mike Wells, Hubert Davis came into Lake Braddock more highly skilled than most players leave the school.
"Most kids come here having to learn what he's already mastered," said Wells in a Burke/Braddock Connection article in December of 1986.
The 1988 Lake Braddock graduate was an outstanding basketball and football player whose work ethic, personality and attitude took him to great heights. Davis, who had to overcome the pain of losing his mother to cancer prior to his junior year of high school, went on to become a top-level three-point shooter at the University of North Carolina. He then went on to become one of the NBA's best three-point shooters. He spent 12 years in the league, before retiring and becoming a basketball commentator and analyst for ESPN.
Former Robinson basketball coach - currently the director of student activities at South County Secondary - Bob McKeag said his teams at the time always focused their attention on stopping Davis. However, he said, Davis always managed to get his points. McKeag said Davis was an outstanding basketball player, one who made his teammates better players as well. McKeag said that is a true mark of a good basketball player.
Davis made his name in high school, and later in college and professional basketball, as a clutch jump-shooter. Davis's friend, a 1988 graduate of Lee High School and currently the boys basketball coach at Madison High School, Chris Kuhblank, said Davis was the best shooter ever to come through the ranks in Northern Virginia. Kuhblank said the four-year varsity player at Lake Braddock was also a great competitor, no matter what sport he was playing.
"Go play tennis with him and he will beat you," said Kuhblank.
Davis's competitive spirit was the reason why he also excelled in football, where he was an all-Region and an all-State wide receiver for the Bruins. Kuhblank added that he, Davis, and a few other names worthy of athletic recognition — such as Chris Warren, the NFL star who graduated from Robinson — played pick-up games on an outdoor court in Burke all the time.
Davis credited his father, who had him dribbling the ball when he was two years old, for introducing him to basketball, .
RED JENKINS, a long-time high school coach in Northern Virginia, and one of the winningest coaches in high school basketball, said Davis's main attribute was his personality. "He was a great kid, very happy, and there was never a frown on his face," said Jenkins. "He was a true gentleman and he had a very captivating personality." Echoing Jenkins's words, McKeag said Davis was always respectful and friendly with the Robinson players, despite the heated rivalry.
Jenkins said that Davis's drive and love for the game made him a complete high school player. "He wasn't strictly a point guard, and wasn't strictly a [shooting] guard, but he scored and he rebounded," said Jenkins. He added that Davis loved the game so much that he would do whatever it took to get better.
"He was an all-around player," said McKeag, "no one area of his game was better than another. If you closed down his shot he wasn't afraid to put the ball on the floor, or dish it out to someone else." McKeag said Davis was always working on his jumpshot. He said the administrators and coaches at Lake Braddock still talk about how Davis would be out on the courts in the middle of a scorching summer day shooting the ball over and over again.
THE BRUINS WOULD not be the last team to use Davis as their go-to player. The jump-shooter would make his name in college basketball at the University of North Carolina, a national powerhouse. "He went to exactly the right school for him," said Jenkins. He said Davis was a good high school player who got better and better under Coach Dean Smith at North Carolina. Jenkins said that at North Carolina Davis became twice the player he was in high school.
He added that a lot of people doubted whether Davis would play in North Carolina, and history silenced the doubters. Davis, a nephew of UNC All-American Walter Davis, holds the school's record in career three-point percentage, having shot .435 from behind the arc. He played in 137 games, averaging 11.8 points per game. He shot 50 percent from the field, and 82 percent from the free-throw line.
"He wanted to play at UNC, but when he graduated people thought he wasn't 'ACC worthy,'" said Kuhblank. He added that Davis attended camps at North Carolina every summer.
Davis himself was not sure of his chances at North Carolina. In a Dec., 1986 (junior year of high school) Burke/Braddock Connection article, Davis said: "[Dean Smith] gives me tips and tells me what I need to work on [at the camps]. But I don't know how seriously he wants me to come there."
THE EXCELLENT three-point shooter would apply his trade on the highest stage the sport had to offer, the NBA. Davis was picked in the first round of the 1992 NBA Draft, 20th pick overall, by the New York Knicks. Davis spent the first four years of his career in New York. He averaged more than 10 points per game in three of those four seasons. In his second season in the NBA, Davis reached the finals with the Knicks, but lost to the Houston Rockets in game seven of the finals.
Davis played for six different organizations in the NBA. He led the league in three-point percentage in the 1999-2000 season, shooting a .491 for the Dallas Mavericks that year. His best three-point percentage year he shot .526 from behind the arc in the 2000-2001 season for the Washington Wizards. Davis also participated in a couple of All-Star Shootouts, and finished second in the 1998 edition of the NBA All-Star Weekend. Davis made appearances in 49 NBA playoff games over the 12 years.
McKeag said he was not surprised with Davis's success. "He always worked extremely hard at what he did. His work ethic, ability and attitude made him the successful player that he was," said McKeag.
Davis's hoop dreams were not the only dreams to come true for him. The Burke/Braddock Connection wrote in Dec. 1986 that Davis also worked for the Lake Braddock school newspaper. He covered the freshman football and basketball teams. Davis was quoted: "I'd like to be a sports broadcaster like Brent Musberger. I want to be in contact with sports." Today Davis is a basketball commentator and an analyst with ESPN.
Turning moments of the 7-OT game against Robinson
0:55 - Bruins' Mike Walton hits 20-foot baseline jumper to cut Rams' lead to 61-59.
0:11 - Bruins' Marc Luce hits 17-footer from right side to tie the game at 61.
0:05 - Bruins' Walton misses two free throws. Neither team scores.
0:23 - Rams' John Lawn hits a foul shot to tie the game at 67.
0:03 - Rams' Tom Martin misses jumper.
1:01 - Rams' Shawn Johnson hits two free throws to tie the game at 71.
0:14 - Bruins' Marcus Crockett misses front end of a one-and-one.
0:05 - Rams' Mike McDaniel and Johnson miss short jumpers.
0:10 - Rams' McDaniel scores inside to tie the game at 75.
0:25 - Rams' Paul Buschman strips Bruins' Hubert Davis of ball. Neither team scores.
2:30 - Davis scores his last basket to finish with a game-high 35 points and give Bruins the lead, 77-75.
1:45 - Rams' McDaniel hits jumper to tie the game at 77.
0:06 - Bruins' Jason Coleman misses two foul shots.
1:49 - Crockett hits foul shots to give Bruins 80-78 lead, which they never lost.
It was a record-breaking and a record-tying affair, but one team had to win and another had to lose. It was a game that lives on in the memories of those who coached in it, those who watched it and especially those who played in it.
In January of 1987, neighborhood rivals Robinson and Lake Braddock took to the basketball court at Robinson Secondary. It took seven overtimes, tying the Virginia state record for most overtimes in a basketball game, to determine the winner. Lake Braddock's Hubert Davis, a junior at the time, was instrumental in the Bruins' 84-80 win over the Rams. Davis scored 35 points to set the school's single-game scoring record.
Immediately after the game Davis told The Connection: "Tonight showed two great teams playing their hearts out trying to win, and I think everyone came out even. Robinson is a great team. You can never say die to them." The 35-point performance was his fourth straight 30-point game. Davis scored 10 of those points in the overtime periods.
McKeag said after the game: "We were on the verge of taking control several times, but we let them back in it. The one overriding factor was that they had Hubert [Davis] to go to."
The Connection described the game as a heart stopping affair in front of 3,500 fans. It also said that it was the greatest game of the decade, if not the century.
"We walked out of the gym at about quarter to midnight, and didn't realize until the next morning that we were a part of something unique," said McKeag. He said both teams had chances to win the game at various times, but at the end of it everyone was just tired.
NBA Career Stats
685 Games Played
149 Games Started
8.2 points per game
22.1 Minutes Per Game Average
.458 FG Percentage
.441 3-point Percentage
.837 FT Percentage
209 Offensive Rebounds (0.3 per game)
836 Defensive Rebounds (1.2 per game)
1,045 Total Rebounds (1.5 per game)
1,172 Assists (1.7 per game)
297 Steals (0.43 per game)
44 blocks (0.06 per game)
What the coaches and players said about Davis at the time
"Basically we try to support each other. It's hard to mess up with Hubert around because he's always there to follow up on any mistakes you make."
— Jason Coleman, Lake Braddock teammate and good friend.
"[Davis and Coleman] play the type of game that benefits both of them. When you try to double up on one of them, the other pops free for an easy shot. It's impossible to shut them both down."
— Charles Thompson, former Lee coach.
"He came to Lake Braddock higher skilled than most kids leave here. Most kids come here having to learn what he's mastered and very few leave here doing it as well as he does now. You enjoy watching him play because he scores so effortlessly."
— Mike Wells, former Lake Braddock coach.
"Of all the players I've seen come through Northern Virginia, Davis has the best combination of physical talent and knowing how to use it. He's level-headed, very coachable and a real credit to basketball."
— Red Jenkins, former Woodson coach.
Hubert Davis is 10 in a survey of the area's Top 100 Athletes by Connection Newspapers in 2000.