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September 22, 2014

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Contented, yet still hoping for another shot

Ron Kantowski says former Wyoming star has had quite a run, even if he doesn’t get back into the NBA

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Steve Marcus

Former Mountain West standout Josh Davis is covered by Andray Blatche during a Summer League game Monday at Cox Pavilion between teams representing Washington and Portland.

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  • Josh Davis, the former Mountain West Conference player of the year, talks about his many basketball travels.
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  • Davis recalls his days playing against UNLV.
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According to the song, Johnny Cash had been to Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota, Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow, Sarasota, Wichita, Tulsa, Ottawa, Oklahoma, Tampa, Panama, Mattawa, La Paloma, Bangor, Baltimore, Salvador, Amarillo, Tocopilla, Barranquilla and Padilla.

He’s been everywhere, man.

When it comes to seeing the world from the back of a bus, he has Josh Davis beat. But only by a little.

In the NBA alone, the former Mountain West player of the year from the University of Wyoming has set screens in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Houston and Phoenix. He has blocked out in Boise, where he was the Most Valuable Player of the born-again Continental Basketball Association, after Isiah Thomas wrecked it. He has scored on put-back baskets at Jesi in Italy, Leon in Spain, Moscow in Russia and Kiev in the Ukraine.

Last week, he played for Indiana in the Orlando Summer League. This week, he’s playing for Portland in the Vegas Summer League.

Have Guns — Davis’ upper body is more defined than when he played for Steve McClain — Will Travel.

“I’ve pretty much played in every league you can play in on the face of the Earth,” Davis said after scoring 10 points and grabbing eight rebounds in 26 minutes as the summertime Trail Blazers defeated the Washington Wizards, 78-73, at Cox Pavilion.

His story is representative of many, if not a majority of, the players’ in the Vegas Summer League. Outside of the odd lottery pick, the rosters are made up mostly of rookies and free agents trying to hoop it up well enough to be invited to NBA training camp in the fall. After that, most will begin to collect stickers for their suitcase, as Davis has.

The winters in Kiev are nothing to write home about, even for a guy who grew up in Salem, Ore., where it rains all the time. But Davis is one of the fortunate ones. He actually made it to The League. On five different occasions. In 2004-05, he played in 42 games for the Sixers. Even started five. On Nov. 24, 2004, he scored a career-high 19 points against the Celtics.

Not too shabby for a guy who wasn’t drafted out of college.

“If it ended tomorrow, I’d be satisfied,” said the 6-foot-8 former Cowboy who admitted he’s still smarting from Dalron Johnson’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer that enabled UNLV to spoil Wyoming’s perfect home season in 2001. “I got to play in the NBA and things like that. And yet I’m not satisfied, because I want to get back there.”

Although there’s good money to be made overseas, Davis said he’s not going back to the Russian Front. His wife, Jessica, is expecting the couple’s second child. So if he doesn’t stick with the Pacers or the Blazers — he averaged 13.6 points for Indiana to earn an honorable mention on InsideHoops.com’s All-Orlando Summer League squad — it looks like the D-League, even if the NBA’s answer to the Pacific Coast League pays peanuts.

Davis will be 28 in August, which means it has been six years since he led Wyoming to an NCAA Tournament victory against Gonzaga. But his style hasn’t changed all that much. With the Blazers leading by one inside of two minutes to play Tuesday, he sent a screen that would have derailed a freight train. Then he rolled to the basket, where he got rebounding position and kept the ball alive for Jerryd Bayless, the former Arizona star, who put it in the basket while being fouled.

Then he went over to hug him.

Hard nose. Blue collar. Good teammate.

They’re going to love Josh Davis in Fort Wayne.

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