Ryan Davis – Berkeley High
When a player transfers to a high school for his senior year, few expect him to be a leader of the basketball team. But Ryan Davis has done just that: become the point guard and leading scorer of Berkeley High’s varsity, and the player that his teammates look to when times are tough.
But Davis had a bit of an advantage coming in. He attended BHS as a freshman, making the varsity team and showing promise for the future. Then his family moved, and he transferred to Lincoln (San Francisco), where he starred for two years as a shooting guard for one of the city’s strongest teams. Now he’s back at Berkeley, and he feels right at home.
“All my friends were over here, so I definitely wanted to come back,” Davis says.
Davis joined a team that is inexperienced on the varsity level, and immediately became a go-to player and the general of the offense. This is also head coach Mike Gragnani’s first year at Berkeley, and he knows he was fortunate to get Davis back into a Yellowjacket jersey.
Ryan’s got a real outgoing personality, and he’s always running on a high level. That has helped a lot,” Gragnani says. “Being inexperienced, we needed him to show what it’s like to be competitive all the time, and he’s given that to us.”
Davis also brings a mix of athleticism and skill that the ’Jackets can count on in crunch time.
“He’s our go-to scorer, the kind of guy who can create his own shot,” says Louis Riordan, a senior in his third year on the varsity. “He can do everything we need him to do, he’s a good ballhandler, a good shooter and he throws good post entry passes. Whatever we need on offense, he can get it for us.”
Coming back to Berkeley allowed Davis a chance to play the point after two years of being a scorer for Lincoln.
“I like the ball in my hands. I feel like my natural position is point guard, so I can get the rest of my teammates involved,” he says.
Davis has also been re-energized by Gragnani’s up-tempo system, with Berkeley using a full-court press on defense and moving the ball around on offense.
At Lincoln we didn’t do much up-tempo. It was mostly slow, half-court stuff,” Davis says. “The up-tempo stuff works for me, because I get a chance to show my athleticism.”
Davis is quick to point out that he doesn’t do it all himself. He singled out fellow guard Byron St. Jules as a big factor in the team’s success.
“B.J. doesn’t get that much ink, but he does a lot for the team,” Davis says. “He usually guards the other team’s best player. That helps me out a lot, it means I don’t have to do as much.”
The Yellowjackets have become one of the top teams in the Bay Area, beating Skyline and playing tough against such powerhouses as Oakland Tech and St. Ignatius. Davis says the mix of maturity (nine seniors) and depth have made Berkeley a threat to do some damage in the postseason.
“It’s good to have so many seniors on the team, just because of the maturity level. When coach says something, everybody listens. Also, we know we have to win now, because it’s our last year,” he says. “We might not be as big as other teams, but we’ve got a real deep team. We go 15 deep, and everybody can play.”
Davis broke his thumb this summer, and several colleges pulled back on their interest in him. But Davis says “schools are starting to come around again. I’ll definitely be playing college ball somewhere next year.”
Gragnani says any college program would be lucky to have Davis.
“He’s very athletic player. He’s quick and he can jump, and he’s very strong physically. If he continues to work on his skills and fundamentals, he’ll be valuable to any program,” the coach says. “He’ll probably be at a lower-level Division 1 team, but if a bigger program were to take a chance on him, they’ll be happy they did, because he’ll work very hard for them. With four years to develop, who knows what he can do?”
I’ve played varsity since freshman year, so they do look to me.
It’s more competitive out here. Over at Lincoln, we only had one or two good opponents. But over here, it’s a battle every game.
It’s up to us how far we go. It depends on how hard we work.
I know Lincoln’s hurting without him, that’s for sure.
It’s not an easy transition to move to point guard, and he’s done a good job. One of the main reasons is that he’s looking to get our other guys involved. Ryan’s got a scorer’s mentality, but he knows that for us to be successful, he has to get other guys involved. He’s been getting better every day at the point.