Davis brothers talk Mustangs basketball, brotherhood

Published 12:40 am Saturday, January 28, 2023

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WEST ORANGE — Basketball is a brotherhood.

Hours of practice and the pressure of competition tend to build a bond between teammates, but West Orange-Stark’s sibling duo of D.D. and Ja’Mikael Davis needed no such time to develop synergy on the court.

“(Playing together) is a dream come true,” Ja’Mikael said. “Either I drive in and he comes to help me, or I pass it out and he’s gonna make it every time. I trust him.”

D.D. feels the chemistry is there already.

“I’ve played with him since I was in seventh grade and he was in the eighth grade, so we have a great chemistry together,” he said.

Both players are young – Ja’Mikael is a sophomore, while younger brother D.D. is just a freshman. Despite their age, they’re already making their presence known on the Mustangs varsity.

D.D., in particular, has caught fire as of late. He’s averaged 17.5 points per game across his last five district games, showcasing his skills as a microwave scorer in the process.

He attributes that hot streak to his confidence, and said once he sees one three-pointer go in, the shots just keep falling after that.

When asked how he would describe his game, D.D. thought for a minute before giving a one word answer: “excellent.”

“I can put the ball on the floor, but if you have a hand down? I’m getting nothing but net,” he later added.

Ja’Mikael described his own play-style as more focused on ball handling, attacking the basket downhill and shooting when his teammates get him open looks.

Both players have put in plenty of hours to get to this point.

While West Orange-Stark has a young varsity roster this season, simply making the team as underclassmen is impressive. The brothers agreed that putting in the work to compete for a spot was rewarding, too.

“I was shocked at first, but (making varsity) told me that coach Castille had faith in me,” D.D. said.

Ja’Mikael added, “it felt good, because coach said he has confidence in me.”

However, both know the work doesn’t stop here. In fact, there’s much more to be done if they want to take their talents to the next level.

Ja’Mikael said his priority is to get better about looking up while dribbling down the court and grow his confidence, and D.D. plans to improve his left-handed dribbling and driving.

As they’ve gotten used to playing at the varsity level, the two young talents have gradually earned the trust of the roster’s upperclassmen.

Ja’Mikael said that once he did, the upperclassmen provided a steadying presence, telling him to keep his head up and move on after mistakes.

“They trust me a lot,” D.D. said. “Any time I get the chance at a wide open shot, teammates are saying, ‘Aw, shoot it.’ Even if I pass up that open shot, they say the same thing again. I just have to keep shooting.”

The Mustangs have struggled this year and have an overall 1-18 record. In spite of their position in the standings, every game and practice represents a learning opportunity.

The Davis brothers recognize that, and they’re trying to soak it all in.

“The key is to play with 110 percent effort from the tip-off and not joke around in practice,” Ja’Mikael said.

“Even if you keep losing, always have that winning mentality,” D.D. said. “And I keep in mind it’s not all about basketball. You’ve got your boys with you to help you keep going. Even though I get treated like a freshman, I know it’s all love. They’re gonna help me do whatever I need to get through.”

— Written by Keagan Smith