From home to the court: Davis succeeds with support of church, team

In a crowd of 2,388 people at the Tad Smith Coliseum in Oxford, Miss., a section of people not only witness a collegiate women’s basketball game, but cheer on a small piece of the team’s larger puzzle.

A single player looks into the crowd to see those familiar faces. Their cheers and signs inspire a desire to succeed within her.

“One of the greatest stories of Nina Davis is when we played at Ole Miss last year, near where she’s from in Memphis, Tennessee,” head coach Kim Mulkey said. “There must have been 50 to 60 people all in the same colored shirts from her church, all to see Nina.”

Davis scored a career high of 43 points and nine rebounds during that game to lead the Lady Bears, who were then ranked No. 11, to a 96-54 win.

Davis’ lifelong support system has now moved from her church’s cheering section to the teammates that surround her on the court. This growth and transformation has been pivotal in her career at Baylor.

Standing at 5-foot-11 with a light frame and unconventional shot, it was initially unclear if a basketball program would be a good fit for Davis. After finding Baylor, she was then unsure of where she would fit on the court.

Mulkey said Davis, who was a low-ranked recruit at the end of her high school career, has a playing presence that grows on you. Davis would also have to grow into the forward position, which she had never played before.

After being granted the opportunity to substitute for a starting player, Davis proved her worth in the position. Mulkey said Davis hasn’t left the floor since.

“My growth has been fun,” Davis said. “To get to college and have it all work out, to become an All-American, to become the captain of the team, honestly all I can say is it’s all a blessing, and it’s been great to be able to grow. “

But Davis is not done growing yet, and the support system spanning from her home in Memphis to the courts of Baylor pushes her forward.

“One of the main things that motivates me is my family back home,” Davis said. “The atmosphere in general at Baylor has kept that motivation alive.”

Davis explained how the university has given her the best of both worlds, providing a top basketball program and a Christian base, something many universities cannot offer. Baylor has allowed her faith as well as her basketball skills to grow.

Davis takes pride in her individual development and achievements, but she says she would not have come this far without her team.

“Individual awards are great, but they only go so far,” Davis said. “But those teammates, those championships, those pictures, they’ll always be there.”

Now a junior with two national championships, a desire for a third and a Final Four tournament in mind, the support she’s received throughout her career have helped her as a teammate and a leader.

“Being a leader is a work in progress,” Davis said. “I’m not going to say I’m the best leader. I have my good days and I have my bad days, but each and every day I try to do something to make my teammates better, to make us a better team overall.”