Longwood's Darien Davis driving Dowling's destiny
Darien Davis wasn't hard to miss when he played high school basketball at Longwood.
Wearing "00" on the back of his jersey with a knack for scoring, Davis was a key reason Longwood advanced to the Class AA Suffolk title game in 2010, the guard's senior season.
Count Dowling coach Steve Hayn as one who was watching.
"Absolutely. I definitely was aware of his talents then," Hayn said. "And then through talking with him and his parents, it came to be that Dowling was a destination he was interested [in]."
But that had to wait. After a year at Mohawk Valley CC in Utica, where he was all-conference, Davis transferred to Dowling and sat out a year. He averaged 13.4 points last season as Dowling reached the East Coast Conference title game but lost to Bridgeport, 61-53.
This season, the 6-2 junior from Middle Island is averaging 21.0 points, second in the ECC, 3.9 rebounds, has increased his shooting percentage by nearly five points and is known for making the extra pass in critical situations.
"He's matured into quite a player," Hayn said. "Even from last year, he's grown tremendously into an efficient offensive player. I think it's just overall maturity, and getting comfortable."
Behind Davis, Dowling (22-6, 16-4 ECC) earned the top seed in the conference tournament. After a first-round bye, Dowling will host a semifinal at 7 p.m. Friday.
It all comes as no surprise to the talented scorer and willing passer.
"I expected this kind of season for me," Davis said. "For myself and the team, actually, because in returning a lot of key guys, we have chemistry. I just think we're more focused this year. We're jelling. We're hosting it and that's good because it's harder to win on the road, without the momentum on your side."
And, of course, Davis is still wearing "00."
"It's my number, just to be different," Davis said. "I started wearing it in my junior year in high school. Every coach had to specifically order it. It was always on time, too. I think it stands out."
Davis added that not much else has changed since his playing days at Longwood, and even at Mohawk, but his college coach sees the evolution of a consistent scorer and leader.
"He's very driven," Hayn said. "I don't think he was pleased with himself last year. I know it was a big focus for him to get better and take another step forward. And he's certainly done that without question this season."