Senior Cam Davis is charged with making the important decisions on the floor that make the Navy men’s basketball team go.
It’s a large responsibility, one that the point guard has proven adept at handling. But once he graduates from the Naval Academy this spring and undergoes a little more training, Davis will take on much larger responsibilities as a Surface Warfare Officer on a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.
“A carrier has 70 aircraft on it flying off hourly, but I won’t be part of all that,” said Davis, who explained he’ll be involved in the maintenance and safety aspect of the operation rather than actually flying. “I’ll be with the nuclear reactor, flipping switches, basically being able to tell you everything about it and lead my team — the guys that really do the heavy lifting.”
Moving into a bigger role on the basketball court last season, Davis had his own nuclear reaction. He led the Midshipmen in scoring (16.3 points per game), minutes played (34.7), assists (2.5) and 3-point field goals made (2.1). He had 24 double-figure scoring games, at least 20 points in 10 contests and was a second-team All-Patriot League selection.
“He had to step into the point guard spot last year and he did very well,” said Navy coach Ed DeChellis, who spends more time gushing about Davis off the court. “He’s a scoring guard, so he had to create opportunities and we revamped the offense some to have him on the ball, pass it and then come get it back for a shot. He stepped into the role and did a very nice job.”
Davis is matter-of-fact about his metamorphosis from middlin’ Middie his first two years to all-conference. He sacrificed his 35 days of leave to stay in Annapolis, Md., during the 2019 offseason to work in the gym and weight room with Navy coaches and strength trainers.
“I wanted to work every day putting in as much work as I could, not only to prepare my body for the rigors of the season, but also getting my sleeping habits right, making sure I was eating enough to put on weight,” he said. “It started there. And then my teammates and coaches 100 percent trusted me.”
DeChellis is comfortable saying there will be even more on Davis’ shoulders this year.
“A good player is a guy that takes care of himself: He scores. He rebounds, this and that,” DeChellis said. “I talk to Cam [about how] a great player is one that makes everybody else better. He can still do what he does but can put other people in a position to be better basketball players. That’s what he has tried to do this fall.”
While Davis said his time at Navy seems to have flown by, he said the key to his improvement is the way the game has slowed down for him.
“Seeing the game from the point guard [spot] and not playing off the ball as much allowed me to really focus,” Davis said. “I feel like I’ve grown so much because everything seems so slow now. The decision-making, everything is getting better day-by-day.”
The rising tide of Davis’ game lifts all Midshipmen and continues an incredible voyage that began in the Midwest in Battlefield, Mo. As landlocked as you can be in the contiguous United States, Davis ended up as an ocean engineering major at Navy, an improbable tale in itself to hear the Academic All-District and All-League performer tell it.
Tyson Batiste, one of his teammates at Kickapoo High School, helped connect him with Navy. (Baptiste went on to play at Central Connecticut State and The Citadel.)
“I really had no idea about the Naval Academy until one of my high school teammates was being recruited here,” Davis recalled. “He asked me if I wanted him to forward my phone number to the coaches here. My recruiting was pretty slow.”
That is until Navy got his number. Assistant coach Emmett Davis called the next day. He and Davis had a “great conversation,” according to the senior. “My relationship with the coaches just took off.”
That summer (2016) Davis went to a basketball camp in Annapolis and knew right away where he wanted to carve out his future. He wanted his parents in on the decision, though, and waited to bring them with him on his official visit.
“I actually committed when I got off the plane,” he laughed. “I had a visit scheduled to Army the next weekend and I canceled. I didn’t want to waste their money because I knew where I wanted to be.”
Davis sounds like a recruiting poster.
“It had everything I was looking for — the academics, the leadership, just developing as a person in general and also basketball, being able to play at one of the highest levels there is,” Davis said.
Talk about high levels. Davis is not only the captain of Navy’s basketball team — he’s the captain of all the captains (33 varsity teams in all) at the Academy. It’s an elected position among one of Navy’s most distinguished leadership groups and one of the honors Davis treasures the most. It’s actually hard to keep track of all of them. DeChellis would rather talk about those achievements than his star guard’s prowess on the hardwoods.
“He’s a special young man,” the coach said. “He’s going to graduate as an outstanding student, and he was just awarded a postgraduate scholarship to MIT. He’s president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes here and just very involved in community service.”
There’s nuclear power school training in the immediate future and then MIT for a master’s degree in Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering. Next comes service on a carrier where he’ll be the main man running the show below deck.
This winter, though, there’s still basketball and the chance to make waves in the Patriot League with a team that lost just one senior, 6-foot-8 center Evan Wieck. The Mids, which went 14-16 overall and 8-10 in the league last year, tip off their season against George Washington Nov. 25 and play Maryland Nov. 27.
Davis’ bent toward basketball and technology follows in the family footsteps. Both Davis’ parents, Adrian and Christina, played basketball at Division II Missouri Science & Technology, and they’ve both been instrumental in molding him into a leader now and for the future.
“My dad is one of the hardest working people I know,” said the younger Davis. “He was consistently putting in 12-hour days just so I could play ball. So the times I went to the gym, it was my mom taking me, chasing rebounds across the gym and picking me up when I was down. Keeping after me to keep working. She deserves credit for building me into what I am today, not only as a basketball player but as a man.”
You don’t have to be blessed with a point guard’s vision to see that the best lessons in leadership are by example. Christina is a breast cancer survivor and Adrian recently had a dual organ transplant and has been diabetes-free for 33 years.
“They understand doing something when it’s not easy,” Cam said. “They know what it is to work hard. I have two incredible role models I lived with for 18 years of my life and I don’t take that for granted.”
And Davis shows his gratitude in everything he does.
Photo Credit: Phil Hoffmann/Navy Athletics