Veteran Coach Leads Fort Wayne Into First D-League Season

Kent Davison: The Search For D-League Talent

by Lauren Brill,

Kent Davison is taking on a new challenge as the head coach of the D-League’s newest team, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. Davison has over 30 years of coaching experience, spanning all levels and a variety leagues including the CBA, USBL and D-League. Last season in an associate head coach position, he helped to bring the D-League’s Colorado 14ers to the championship game. Davison is a long time familiar face in the D-League, as he coached the Roanoke Dazzle from the D-League’s inception in 2001 until 2006. He guided the Dazzle to multiple playoff appearances and coached D-League success stories Matt Carroll and Mikki Moore in during his time in Roanoke.

“Having been around coaching for as many years as I have, I hope I have learned something about what physical skills players need, said Davison. "What kind of mental things they bring to the game. Hopefully it helps me to relate to them and them to me and will allow me to put together a solid organization.”

On Wednesday, Davison will begin to assemble his team in the Expansion Draft.

“It is imperative to find four of them (players) that will come to training camp,” Davison says. Once we have our regular draft and we get some allocated players, then we might try to put more of a group together.”

In terms of talent Davison is searching equally for skill and desire.

“Some of them that you want are hopefully very skilled and then some of them are guys that want to work to try and improve their game.”

Throughout Davison’s coaching career he has sent 13 players up to the NBA and has been linked with multiple recipients of the D-League Rookie of the Year Award.

“I have been associated the last three years with the three Rookies of the Year in this league," said Davison. "I think what it tells you, is either we or picking the right guys or developing them into the right kind of players.”

In a league where the mission is to teach and develop players, Davison, who has a Masters in Secondary Education, recognizes the mental game to have been essential for players who have grown and succeeded under his rule.

“The thing that really is the common thread is their desire to be as good of a player as they could be. They worked at it. They put in extra time, did things that gave them an opportunity to get called up and then maybe to even stick,” Davison explains.

Past Rookies of the Year Will Bynum and James Thomas were classic examples of players coached by Davison whose heart and desire led them to recognition. Bynum, a high-scoring guard, recieved a GATORADE Call-Up to the Warriors during the 2005-06 season, while Thomas, a rugged forward, got the call from three different NBA teams during 2004-05.

“When I drafted them I knew a little bit about what I was getting because both of them had heart, recalls Davison. "They would do anything you asked them to do,” recalls Davison.

Once the players are chosen, the new Mad Ants coach recognizes the biggest hurdle that must be overcome immediately.

“The players for the most part don’t know what type of a system I like to run,” Davison says. “I want to put as many points on the board as we can. I think that is what the fans like to see. I also think that is how the players like to play.”

As the new season approaches, Davison anxiously awaits assembling the roster and then coaching the team. Using his past experiences, the veteran coach expects to draft players that not only have the physical ability to play but also the will to win.