High-scoring guard Douglas Davis ’12, center, has improved as a defender.
Beverly Schaefer

High-scoring guard Douglas Davis ’12, center, has improved as a defender.
High-scoring guard Douglas Davis ’12, center, has improved as a defender.
Beverly Schaefer

On an early December walk to Jadwin Gym before the men’s basketball game against St. Joseph’s, junior guard Douglas Davis had time to listen to one song. He selected “Unfor gettable,” by the Canadian rapper Drake. The chorus repeated confidently:

“And when you get to talkin’ ’bout the greatest, I just really hope that you’d think of me / ’cause I’m tryin’ to be unforgettable.”

The catchy cut was just long enough to get Davis to the locker room from his dorm, where he’d completed the more subdued portion of his pregame routine, praying and reading the Bible.

When game time rolled around, the 5-foot-10-inch sociology major scored 12 points, including three 3-pointers, leading the Tigers to a 74–65 victory. Statistically speaking, it was an average night. But Davis’ consistent scoring over the past three years has put him in a rare position: By early February, he could become the first Tiger since Kit Mueller ’91 to exceed 1,000 points before his senior year.

Quick and fearless, the diminutive Davis has a knack for finding open shots, even when guarded by much taller defenders. In his debut against Central Michigan in 2008, he scored 25 points, breaking a first-game record for Princeton freshmen. He went on to become the first Tiger freshman to lead the team in scoring. But late in games that season, he often was replaced by stronger defenders.

Head coach Sydney Johnson ’97 says he has challenged Davis “to be the best player on the floor, no matter what the situation is,” and in the last two years, Davis has added more dimensions to his game. Last summer, he worked extensively on footwork, training alongside his brother, DeOliver, a freshman football player at Lafayette.

Fast feet and active hands have kept Davis on the floor in key defensive situations this season. He’s averaging a career-high 36.6 minutes, and his scoring is up to 14.2 points per game. Through Dec. 12, Princeton, the preseason Ivy League favorite, was 7–3.  

When Davis committed to Princeton in May 2008, the Tigers were coming off a miserable 6–23 season. Davis, then a senior at the nearby Hun School, made a leap of faith with hopes of turning around the storied program.

His choice came down to two Ivy schools, Princeton and Columbia. “I remember calling Coach [Johnson] — I was proctoring a study hall, and I called him during our break to say, ‘Coach, I’m coming!’” Davis recalls with a laugh. “He didn’t expect me to say that. He just wanted to know how my day went.”

As practice began that fall, it was clear to both the Princeton coaching staff and Davis’ teammates that the newcomer had the ability to penetrate the lane or score from the perimeter. Three times he was named the Ivy Rookie of the Week.  

Davis followed that campaign by leading the team in scoring again as a sophomore while Princeton went 22–9 and advanced to the semifinals of the College Basketball Invitational.  

In spite of personal success and playing a leading role in the program’s revival, Davis is modest in the face of individual accolades. “His humility is remarkable,” Johnson says. “I don’t know if I’ve been around that good of a player who carries himself that way and yet still is able to perform in the big moments.”