USC Men's Basketball

He knows what Zion is going through; Larry Davis came home before it was too late

From the 1997 season: South Carolina teammates Melvin Watson, Larry Davis and William Gallman
From the 1997 season: South Carolina teammates Melvin Watson, Larry Davis and William Gallman The State/File photo

Larry Davis can relate to the scrutiny that Zion Williamson, Seventh Woods and P.J. Dozier have faced in recent years.

Davis was a high-profile high school basketball recruit when he was coming out of Denmark-Olar High School, where he averaged 44 points per game and was Mr. Basketball during his senior season in 1990-91. Like Woods, Williamson and Dozier, he felt the tug and pressure to play college basketball in the Palmetto State.

Davis chose North Carolina and playing for Hall of Fame coach Dean Smith over playing for the Gamecocks. He played two seasons for the Tar Heels and was part of UNC’s 1993 national title team.

But Davis returned home to finish his career and made a big mark in two seasons at USC, helping the Gamecocks to their first SEC championship in 1997.

“It worked out pretty well, and I have no regrets with how things turned out,” Davis said Wednesday. “UNC gave me a chance to grow as a player and I had a chance to see the winning culture and brought some of that to South Carolina. I was grateful for the opportunity to play and grateful to finish my career at South Carolina.”

Davis and seven other former Gamecock athletes will be honored Thursday night when they are inducted into the University of South Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame.

Davis, who lives in Gastonia, N.C., was shocked when he got the call to learn of his induction. He thought because he spent just two years at USC that he wouldn’t be considered.

But Davis did plenty in his two years playing for Eddie Fogler. He scored 1,068 points, second most by a two-year player at USC. He averaged 16 points during the SEC championship season and was a first-team all-conference selection.

“We came into the SEC season losing some games we should have won but when SEC play came around we got on a roll,” Davis said. “We had great team chemistry and camaraderie and we were able to achieve some great heights.”

After USC, Davis played overseas for seven seasons before getting into coaching. He turned around the Lewisville High School program and led the Lions to the 2013 Class A state championship before going on to coach at Northwestern High in Rock Hill, where he led the Trojans to the most wins in school history.

From there, Davis spent one season as an assistant at Newberry and was director of operations at James Madison this past year. He is not coaching this year but is training and mentoring young basketball players in North and South Carolina.

But he hopes to get back into coaching.

“I am going back and sharpening my skills as far as the instructional part, but I still have a love and knack for coaching, so I’m just waiting for the right opportunity,” Davis said. “But I am really enjoying what I am doing. I was able to learn a lot from the great coaches I had in my life and hope to pass that on with the players I am working with now and in the future.”

Inductees into USC’s Hall

The eight new members of the USC Athletics Hall of Fame, who will be inducted Thursday and recognized at the game Saturday.

Chuck Allen

Football (1977-80), Board of Trustees (2008-Current)

Defensive tackle helped lead Carolina to the 1979 Hall of Fame Bowl and the 1980 Gator Bowl.

Bill Currier

Football (1974-76)

DB drafted by Houston Oilers in 1977 and spent nine seasons in the NFL with the Oilers, Patriots, and New York Giants.

Larry Davis

Basketball (1996-97)

First-team All-SEC in 1997 for Eddie Fogler’s SEC championship squad.

Randy Martz

Baseball (1977)

Helped lead Gamecocks to the championship game of the 1977 College World Series with a 14-0 record.

Jamar Nesbit

Football (1995-98)

Offensive tackle who was a three-time All-SEC performer, earning recognition in 1996, ’97 and ’98.

Eric Norwood

Football (2006-09)

Is the school record holder in tackles for loss in a career with 54.5, and for sacks in a career with 29.0.

Tricia Popowski

Softball (1988-91)

Had NCAA record 51 triples. Led USC in on-base percentage, triples, walks and slugging percentage in her four seasons.

Jennifer (Van Assen) Brunelli

Swimming & Diving (2001-04)

Holds Gamecocks records in the 200 Freestyle, 200 Free relay, and 400 Free relay.