ROCK HILL - Ray Davis is a basketball player whose head tells him he can play - but his feet are another story.
Davis, a senior guard for Winthrop, has suffered from plantar fasciitis since arriving at Winthrop from Northwest Shoals Community College in Alabama as a junior college transfer. He started three games as the Eagles' shooting guard in the 2008-09 season before having problems with both feet.
"It's been a tough two years for him," Winthrop coach Randy Peele said.
Plantar fasciitis involves a ligament that supports the arch. If it gets strained, the ligament can weaken, become inflamed and cause pain.
"I played through it the first year but my minutes kept going down," Davis said.
Davis scored 10 points in his first game at Winthrop. He scored 10 again later in the season. But this season he has played in seven games, with a season-high eight minutes on Jan. 23 at Gardner-Webb.
When Davis can't go, he has found a way to channel his energy.
As the Eagles swept through the Big South tournament at Coastal Carolina last weekend, Davis was the most vocal player on the bench.
"It was very frustrating not being able to play," Davis said. "But it was good just to be with my teammates; cheering them on, and coaching them."
Peele understands. He hurts for Davis and his predicament.
"I commend him for his attitude," Peele said. "He's a 22-year-old with the enthusiasm for basketball of a young boy. Physically his body won't allow him to play. He accepted it, to the best of his ability. We made the decision - together - that he wouldn't play again this year."
The decision was hard, notes Jeff Lahr, Winthrop's assistant athletics director for athletic training.
"I don't remember anyone getting (plantar fasciitis) so bad, in both feet," Lahr said. "He amazed me with some of the things he's been able to do even with the pain."
Davis received two cortisone injections in his heels and wore night splints designed to stretch his feet for longer periods. He spent time in a cold whirlpool and received electrical stimulation.
"He's the worst case I've seen," Lahr said.
In September, he had ossatron treatment, which involves high-energy sound waves. It is similar to a treatment for kidney stones, only much stronger and more painful.
Despite all the treatments, Davis still has pain. But he is still an Eagle, which Lahr saw during the team's Big South tournament run.
"You could see that he knew he had a chance to be a leader on a conference championship team," Lahr said. "He was talking to the guys and getting them up for the game."