It was not always clear whether Jack Davidson ’22 would be successful at the game of basketball. Standing at 5 feet 5 inches tall as a freshman at Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers, Indiana, no one would have thought that this slight teenager would become enshrined in Indiana basketball legend. But fast forward to 2023, and Davidson stands alone as the greatest basketball player in Wabash history. And his journey is only just beginning.
Davidson’s accolades speak for themselves. He is Wabash’s all-time leading scorer and the Jostens Trophy winner in 2022. He has the all-time NCAA record for most consecutive made free throws in games at 95. He’s a two-time All-American, three-time Academic All-American and the captain of a magical NCAA DIII tournament run in his senior season, culminating in a trip to the Final Four. There is absolutely no argument that with Davidson on the floor with the ball in his hands, you are in for a show.
But behind the wall of trophies, plaques and laurels resides a man with a resolve of iron. Davidson knew, before any of his coaches or his teammates, that basketball was his dream and that he would do whatever it took to reach the next level.
“I grew up playing every sport imaginable,” said Davidson. “I loved basketball, but I also loved football and baseball, and I played golf.” But, when push came to shove, Davidson knew from early on that basketball was his passion. “In my freshman year [of high school], I told my dad I just wanted to focus and put all of my time and effort into basketball.”
Most players blanch at the amount of work that it takes to reach the college level of any sport. But not Davidson.
“It was easy for me to put the work in,” said Davidson. “I was always busy anyway, so [training] was easy. I got to play basketball, work on my game, and do what I love. I loved it.”
But resolve could only get him so far in high school. Davidson’s notable lack of height or weight constrained him to the freshman team, then to JV, and finally to a varsity starter his junior year.
“Through almost my junior year I was so small, and I was so late to my growth spurt,” said Davidson. “I was still a good player, but I was just so small that JV or varsity was not feasible.”
Davidson wasn’t the only one who understood his potential from early on. Wabash’s Head Basketball Coach Kyle Brumett had his eye on Davidson from his sophomore year of high school.
“I was playing JV at the time, and [Coach Brumett] was coming to watch a varsity game,” said Davidson. “But he got there early and saw some of the JV game. He said that he loved my game, that I had the ball on a string, and that I shot it really well, but I was just 5 foot 5. So, he said, ‘If this kid grows, one day I’ll really like him.’”
And Davidson finally did grow. By the end of his senior year, Davidson was 6 foot 1 inch and shooting over 50% from three, averaging 14 points per game for Hamilton Southeastern. Brumett and the rest of the basketball staff pounced, and Davidson ended up committing to Wabash.
“I had an offer from the University of Indianapolis, and I was thinking about walking on at a high-level Division I college,” said Davidson. “But at the end of the day, I wanted to play a lot and get a really good education. And I wanted to play for a coach that believed in me. Wabash checked all of those boxes.”
“Realistically, I’m never going to make it to the NBA. I know that, and that was never a goal of mine”– Jack Davidson ’22
Davidson did indeed play a lot for the Little Giants. Starting every game from his freshman to his senior year, the Wabash basketball team was Davidson’s from the moment he stepped foot on campus.
“I had so much responsibility from the time I got [to Wabash],” said Davidson. “Right when I got there, Coach Brumett told me: ‘This is your team, and we’re going to ride on your back.’ So, I had no choice but to grind and work as hard as I possibly could every day to help the team win.”
Even though the team was his, there were plenty of bumps in the road on the way to the Final Four. The Little Giants were 12-14 during Davidson’s freshman season and floated in the upper half of the conference without gaining any real traction in the NCAC.
“It takes a lot,” said Davidson, speaking about the difficulties of building a championship-winning program. “There’s a lot of work in between those years. But Coach Brumett always believed that he could build a team that was a conference championship winner year in, year out.”
This championship-winning team would not materialize until Davidson’s fifth-year senior season, when the Little Giants won the NCAC tournament for the first time in school history, punching themselves a ticket to the NCAA tournament. The rest is history.
With near-improbable wins at every turn, the Little Giants upset Illinois Wesleyan University in the Elite Eight in Bloomington, Illinois, returning to the DIII Final Four for the first time since 1982. Regrettably, Wabash was sent home by Elmhurst University in that Final Four game, but Davidson enjoyed every bit of the ride.
“The team loved it,” said Davidson. “We loved being around each other, we had fun being on the court and it was just a blast going through that journey [to the Final Four]. It’s a testament to the culture we built through those years.”
After his stellar college career and electrifying senior year, there was no question that Davidson was looking to continue to play at the professional level.
“I hired an agent right after my [senior] season was over,” said Davidson. “The original plan was that I was going to go to Europe to play, maybe Spain or France.”
But then came an offer that Davidson was loathed to pass up. He soon received calls from several G-League teams, including the Greensboro Swarm, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants and the Cleveland Charge, each of whom asked Davidson to come in for a workout.
“If I have the chance to make a roster in the G-League, I want to give that a shot,” said Davidson.
One of the main issues, though, is that most of the basketball leagues outside of the NBA have conflicting schedules. So, if Davidson wanted to try out for the G-League, he would have to forgo his European season. He decided it was worth taking the chance.
After two dead ends, Davidson was invited to the Greensboro Swarm’s training camp in the fall of 2022. Most G-League camps of this sort invite 14-16 players with the intent of signing nine or 10. And unfortunately for Davidson, he didn’t make the cut.
“It’s a pretty exclusive group,” said Davidson. “I was honored to get that invite and thought I deserved [a spot]. I thought I played really well, but at the end of the day, those guys were really high-level. Just to play against that competition was a blessing.”
Despite the disappointment, Davidson truly believes he has what it takes to play in the G-League.
“Realistically, I’m never going to make it to the NBA. I know that, and that was never a goal of mine,” said Davidson. “I think I’m big enough to play [in the G-League], but scouts and GMs might think I’m a little undersized for my position.”
So, with no G-League contract, it was back to the drawing board. After some research, Davidson and his agent decided that pursuing the well-funded and competitive NBL 1, Australia’s semi-pro second league, would be an excellent option.
It didn’t take long for an opportunity to come along. Just weeks after reaching out to teams, Davidson received an offer from the Ballarat Miners, a team based in Victoria, who he promptly signed for.
But this is not the end-all-be-all for Davidson. Usually, and Davidson is no exception, teams in the European and Australian leagues sign their players to one-year contracts, with rare exceptions for well-established players who are almost household names with their teams. So, Davidson will have one year with the Miners, then he must reassess his options.
“I know I’m really skilled and I know I can play in a high league somewhere,” said Davidson. “I think the NBL 1 gives me a fantastic opportunity to showcase that. It would be really awesome to play in the NBL [Australia’s top league], which is one of the best leagues in the world outside of the NBA.”
Ultimately, Davidson wants to be in Europe and firmly believes he can compete among the best. But no matter where he finishes, Davidson has proven that unyielding dedication and resilience paired with natural talent and skill is an almost unstoppable recipe. From a skinny, undersized teenager to the king of a college campus to a newly minted professional, Davidson has shot for the stars and ended up floating among them. He has turned his dream into a reality and has respected and appreciated his journey to it.