An American basketball player, Baron Walter Louis Davis was so passionate about football, that he even finished schooling with a basketball scholarship, at a private school in Santa Monica. Davis in his senior year, led his team into the Championship of the Beach Ball Classic tournament, which resulted in MVP honors, as well as a spot on the All-Tournament team. Davis went on to win the Gatorade National Player of the Year award, as well as a Parade All-American, that same year.
Davis got an opportunity to rub shoulders with future NBA players, Shane Battier, Ron Artest, Elton Brand and Larry Hughes, when he was selected to be a part of the McDonald’s All-American High School Basketball Game. Despite being the smallest in the competition, at 6’2”, Davis won the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest.
Davis was the center of a major recruiting battle, with Georgia Tech, UCLA, Kansas and Duke, all lining up to recruit him. Ultimately Davis chose UCLA, though he was immediately immersed in a scandal involving his sister’s car, which she had bought from a member of Jim Harrick’s family, who was the then-coach of the UCLA men’s basketball team. But eventually the scandal cleared up and Davis joined UCLA in 1997, without incident. Davis went on to bag the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, in 1998, and also earned a spot in the All-American Third Team, in his sophomore year.
During his two years in UCLA, Davis averaged 5.1 assists, and 13.6 points, and even though he suffered an injury during a NCAA Tournament game, he regained form the very next season, and was fit enough to enter the 1999 NBA Draft.
Third pick in the 1999 NBA Draft, Davis was chosen by the Charlotte Hornets, and made his debut against the Orlando Magic, where he scored 9 point, as well as 5 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 assists. Even though in the first year, Davis backed up David Wesley and Eddie Jones, he started all 82 games in his second year. He was instrumental in the Hornets reaching the second round of the playoffs, for two consecutive years. In the next season, Davis once again started all 82 games, averaging at 18 points per game. He got an opportunity to play in the 2002 NBA All-Star Game, as an injury replacement for Vince Carter.