Sometimes the transformation is instant. Wapahani basketball player Tanner Davis will be talking with his teammates, and he will have a simple, relaxed way of speaking with his friends. Then an adult will enter the conversation, and Davis’ manner of speaking will change.
Teammate Jacob Foster has noticed Davis’ tone and word choice will change, and it’s clear he’s nervous. His tone will get more formal. He’ll focus on pronunciation, whereas he might mumble in an informal conversation with his teammates.
Foster said it’s become something of a running joke with Davis’ teammates and friends.
“He’ll be talking to me, and he’ll be talking fine,” Foster said. “He’ll get a call from his grandpa. He’ll answer, his whole tone of voice, his whole personality just kind of changes.”
Despite the good-natured ribbing (Foster assures Davis dishes it back), Davis is unquestionably a valued member of the Raiders’ basketball team. He is the senior point guard, and serves as a dual threat.
Davis averaged a team-leading 4.9 assists per game last season, while also averaging 9.6 points. An outside shooter, he made 46 3-pointers in 26 games, helping Wapahani to a 22-4 season that ended with a loss in a Class 2A regional championship game.
He had one of his best games of the season in that game, scoring 19 points and going 5-for-10 from behind the arc, including a 3-pointer with less than 10 seconds to go that tied the game.
Since then, Davis has worked on taking more of his team’s leadership responsibilities.
Davis has been a point guard ever since he played with teammate Grant Evans when the pair were in second grade and playing on a team with third-graders. Over the years, Davis has become comfortable at the position, and there’s never been much doubt he would remain there. He feels comfortable with the ball in his hands, facilitating the offense for his teammates.
“I’ve had a lot of practice and stuff,” Davis said. “I like the position.”
But this year, Davis has decided to work on expanding his leadership capabilities as he prepares for his senior season, which will begin on Tuesday with a home game against Blackford. The Raiders are ranked No. 2 in the preseason Class 2A poll.
“We’re expecting him to have another great year,” coach Matt Luce said. “But more importantly, we’re expecting our team to be led by a very good point guard.”
Last year’s team had five seniors, and Davis said they imparted a strong desire to keep the season alive. This year, he hopes to give the Raiders’ younger players the same desire to avoid elimination.
Evans has noticed a difference in Davis’ leadership abilities, especially when it comes to encouraging younger teammates. Luce told Davis to let his coach worry about the loud constructive criticism, and for Davis to focus on being the encouraging person to life those players back up.
“I feel like they know that they can just go talk to Tanner, ask him what’s going on,” Evans said. “And Tanner can just be like, ‘He’s pushing you because he wants you to be better, and for the right reasons.’ And so, I think overall, he’s just been a better leader vocally.”
Like Foster, Evans is known to take part in ribbing Davis. But despite all the fun, Evans has a clear sense of the friend Davis is to him.
“If I needed something at 3 o’clock in the morning, if my car was out of gas on the side of the road, I know I’d be able to call Tanner and he’d be right there in a minute, to be by my side and help me with whatever it was,” Evans said.