Thursday Mar 31 2011
Vintage basketball in Dimes Classic
By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
Bennett Davison never made it to the NBA, but he has no regrets. His basketball career lasted much longer than he ever imagined and took him to countries he never thought he would visit. The 6-foot-8 Davison managed to earn a scholarship to the University of Arizona after not being recruited as a senior at Analy High School in Sebastopol. He arrived in Arizona at the perfect time. After two seasons at West Valley College in San Jose, Davison joined the Wildcats as a junior in 1996. The 1996-97 season turned out to be one Davison and his teammates will never forget. The Wildcats marched through the madness that is the NCAA Tournament and won the championship. Davison spent two seasons at Arizona and then played 13 as a professional in countries such as Turkey, Slovenia, Greece, Croatia, Italy and Australia. He finally had enough in 2010 and retired. Although his career has ended, Davison is still involved in basketball. He is an assistant coach at Rocklin High School and plays with the Sac Legends, a team of former pro and college players. The Legends are the defending champions of the Dimes Classic. The 53rd edition of the tournament will begin Friday at Rocklin High with Thunder coach Michael Lorente running the show. Lorente will also coach the Legends, who play at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the second of three games. There will be 10 games Saturday and six Sunday, with the first tipping off each day at 9 a.m. Also playing for the Legends will be 6-8 Troy Selvey, another of Lorente’s assistants with the Thunder. Sacramento Kings fans can see former King Bobby Jackson play with Slow Motion at 6:15 p.m. Friday. The 12-team tournament will not be a bunch of old-timers trying to relive their glory days, Davison said. Even at age 35, Davison can rattle the rim with a dunk and plans to do so in the tournament. “It’s going to be good basketball. We’re going to get after it and challenge each other,” Davison said. “There’s just going to be a lot of subbing because none of us can run like we used to.” Davison has remained in decent shape even though he is no longer playing professional basketball. His time is spent these days at Sierra College, where he is taking classes to become a firefighter and paramedic. He also works with high school athletes to assist them in finding scholarships. Davison has joined forces with former Sacramento Monarchs star Yolanda Griffith to start nationwidestudentatheltes.com, which connects high school seniors with colleges offering scholarships. “We send out (athletes’) information to colleges,” Davison said, “instead of the colleges looking for you.” Such a service would come in handy for Davison when he was a senior at Analy High. He did not receive one recruiting letter from any college as the big man on campus in a city of “6,000 hippies.” Like many high school athletes, Davison went to a junior college in hopes of attracting attention. He did so at West Valley under coach Bob Burton, who is now Cal State Fullerton’s head coach. “I found out I was a JC player,” Davison said. “I could run and jump, but I didn’t have any basketball skills.” As he developed his skills, recruiters took notice. All those colleges that had no interest in Davison were suddenly knocking on his door. Surprisingly, he decided to play a second year at West Valley. Burton talked Davison into staying, Davison recalled, by saying he had a shot at a major scholarship. Davison’s decision paid off when he was recruited by Arizona, where he played alongside the likes of Mike Bibby, Miles Simon and Jason Terry. Arizona was a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats won the Mideast Regional, knocked off North Carolina in the Final Four and then beat Kentucky to win the title. Davison will never forget the conversation on the bus after the championship game. “We were all wondering who we were going to play next,” he said. “We didn’t any games left. It didn’t sink in right away. It’s not always the best team that wins. It’s who has the six luckiest games.” Arizona’s luck this season ran out last Saturday when the Wildcats lost to Connecticut in the Elite Eight. 53rd annual Dimes Classic Rocklin High School, 5301 Victory Lane Friday’s games: Chico Rage vs. Slow Motion, 6:15 p.m.; Check-Up vs. Sac Legends, 7:30 p.m.; Alma Latina vs. Hornets, 8:45 p.m. Saturday: 10 games with the first at 9 a.m. and the last at 8:15 p.m. Sunday: Eight games with the first at 9 a.m.; semifinals at 3:30 and 4:45 p.m.; championship game at 6 p.m.