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Whiteland center makes most of opportunities


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The “j” in the first name of the leading scorer, rebounder and shot blocker for Whiteland’s boys basketball team is noticeably silent.

This is because Dejan, a popular male name in Bosnia-Herzegovina, birthplace of Dejan Davis’ mother, Vera, is pronounced Day-en.

Not to worry. Hard work has placed a fairly dependable “J” in the 6-foot-5 senior’s offensive repertoire. Even as the Warriors’ starting center, Davis this season has stepped back to deliver on 3 of 6 3-point attempts, including a pair of baseline all-netters in last week’s 51-47 semifinal loss to Center Grove at the Johnson County Tournament.

“The real plus with Dejan is he’s been versatile for us. He’s been able to stretch defenses with that 10- to 15-foot jump shot,” said Warriors coach Matt Wadsworth, whose squad hosts county rival Franklin tonight in a critical Mid-State Conference showdown.

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“Defensively, he provides us a nice stable force with his rebounding and defending the basket. Sometimes Dejan is a guy who needs a big play to get him going, but from the opening tip we know he has what it takes to have a big game for us.”

The fact Davis averages 11.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and nearly one block per outing is hardly stunning considering he provided decent numbers (6.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg) as a junior. That he’s doing so averaging 15.3 minutes of court time when six of his teammates average 18.7 or more makes his productivity all the more impressive.

“My role on the team is to get those tough rebounds and be a scorer anywhere in the paint. Then, if teams double down on me, I’ll kick it back out and find the open guy,” said Davis, who credits an innate feel for rebounding for his success in that department more than he does any physical skills.

“Since I was in middle school I’ve just always had a knack of knowing where the ball would end up.”

A self-described Army brat (his father, Walter, is now retired from the military), Davis was born in Virginia, twice lived in Germany and also has called Texas and North Carolina home. His family moved to Whiteland midway through his sixth-grade school year and has been there ever since.

“I would have liked to have stayed in one place and make a strong connection, but I’ve been around a little,” Davis said, laughing. “I like Whiteland because it’s kind of a small town and everyone knows each other.”

Davis is an outstanding student, also. He already has been accepted to both Indiana University and IUPUI and plans to channel the effort and focus used to accrue a 3.8 grade-point average in high school toward a degree in computer science informatics. He also is giving thought to trying to continue his basketball career at the collegiate level as a walk-on.

Also watch for Davis to make a name for himself this spring in track and field as one of the state’s premier high jumpers. Whiteland’s school record-holder with a best of 6-foot-8, Davis cleared 6-4 to finish 11th at the 2012 state meet at IU. Seven of the 10 competitors placing ahead of him have since graduated.

“Even in the middle of basketball season I’m kind of excited for track,” Davis said. “I’ve been able to improve so much in just the past three years. We’re definitely aiming higher than 6-8.”

The “j” might be forever silent, but by June, there may be no need for a pronunciation guide regarding Dejan Davis.

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