Davis stepping down at Central
CHAMPAIGN — The dean of boys’ basketball coaches in the Big 12 Conference is stepping aside.
Central’s Scott Davis confirmed on Monday that he is resigning from the one coaching position after 21 years on the job.
He will remain on staff as a teacher and the boys’ tennis coach.
“There wasn’t one moment (when the decision was made),” Davis said. “It was an accumulation of a few things. I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of years.
“It’s hard to figure a good time. I just felt like this was the time.”
Davis anticipates continuing to teach in the history, government and economics department for another “five or six years,” he said.
A 1975 Central graduate, Davis had two stints on the Central basketball staff. The first one ended after one season, the 1981-82 school year.
“Like a bunch of other young teachers, I was laid off,” Davis said.
He returned in 1986-87 and was an assistant for six seasons before replacing Tom Croy as Central’s boys’ basketball head coach prior to the 1992-93 school year.
When he was a student at the school, Davis said, “I was more of a football player.”
Even as a teenager he had an interest in teaching, though coaching was never a priority.
“Teaching was always a passion,” Davis said, “but I never went into education thinking about being a head coach. I see myself as a simple classroom teacher.”
He wound up coaching three sports, serving as an assistant in football for 20 seasons. He’s in his ninth season with tennis, covering two stints.
“As a young player, and a young coach, when you’re around people like Charlie Due, Tommy Stewart and Lee Cabutti, you listen to those guys and learn a lot,” Davis said. “I learned to appreciate the game and respect the effort.”
Though he will retire as the school’s second winningest boys’ basketball coach (trailing only Cabutti) with a cumulative 330-234 mark and also with the second-longest tenure, Davis said, “I never saw myself as a phenomenal coach. I was surrounded by good people.”
Among his former assistants was Tim Lavin, whose 12-year tenure at Centennial will rank him behind only Normal Community’s Dave Witzig (14 years) for seniority among boys’ basketball coaches in the Big 12.
Central athletic director John Woods, Herb Burnett, Floyd Fisher, Tom Hess and Leconte Nix are among the other current or former assistants he has had on staff.
“I have much for which to be thankful,” Davis said, “all of the players who I had the privilege to coach, the parents who entrusted their sons to me, my assistant coaches without whom nothing would have been possible, my fellow Big 12 coaches who have an ever-difficult task, and the Central fans and students.
“I always saw it as an honor and a privilege to coach these young men and represent this school. I feel it is now time to pass this opportunity on to another.”
Woods spent more than a decade as an assistant with Davis, “an opportunity I jumped at,” he said.
Woods was impressed by Davis’ basketball knowledge.
“He studies the game and is able to impart his knowledge,” Woods said. “His record speaks for itself.
“We had quite the spell where 20 wins was the norm.”
Coaches such as Davis are becoming fewer.
“You don’t see guys who coach 20 years much any more,” Woods said. “We appreciate what he committed to the program.”
Many in the sporting community know of Davis through his two-decade basketball coaching stint, though he said it has not been an all-consuming interest for him.
“I have other interests, and I’ve tried to maintain a balance,” Davis said. “I never let myself be defined as a basketball coach.”
When Davis reflects on memories, it’s not about career win No. 1, No. 300 or even his final one.
“I don’t remember games as much as the fantastic young men,” he said, “and the relationships with the coaches and officials. I enjoyed the people I’ve been involved with.”
Davis had 14 winning seasons with the Maroons. His final team was 5-20 but won its regular season finale at Combes Gymnasium, 57-55 against Danville.
A look at a few of the highlights of Scott Davis’ 21-year tenure as Central’s boys’ basketball coach:
— Second coach in history of the 105-year-old program to guide at least four successive teams to 20-win seasons. Central’s Class of 2008 did the trick, compiling a four-year varsity mark of 91-27. The school’s record for consecutive 20-win seasons is eight under the tenure of Harry Combes from 1940 to ’47.
— Guided Maroons to their second state tournament trophy (third place in 2007-08) in the past 66 years. The team’s nucleus included five players (four of whom were seniors) that went on to play collegiately, including Verdell Jones III (right) at Indiana University. The school’s other boys’ basketball trophy was third in 1969.
— Has been involved in coaching at his alma mater for 57 seasons. In addition to 28 years in basketball (21 as the head coach), he spent 20 years assisting in football and nine years with boys’ tennis, where he is now in his sixth straight year as the head coach.
— Won seven regional titles and had five 20-win seasons. He guided the Maroons to winning campaigns in 14 of his 21 seasons. His 330 career wins and 21 years as coach are second in school history only to Lee Cabutti.