South Xtra: Junior star cashing in for Warriors
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When Elizabeth Forward boys coach Gerald "Puddin" Grayson watches JaQuan Davidson play, it sometimes brings back memories of when he coached one of the most decorated basketball players in Western Pennsylvania history.
"He reminds me of Swin [Cash]," Grayson said. "If there's any kind of comparison, it's Swin. I told him he has that same type of role."
Just as Cash did for Grayson and the McKeesport girls teams in the late 1990s, Davidson has become a do-it-all player who not only lights up the scoreboard, but dominates the stat sheet.
Davidson, a 6-foot-4 junior, leads Elizabeth Forward in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and blocked shots.
Elizabeth Forward was one of the hottest teams in Class AAA before losing, 60-49, at West Mifflin Tuesday. The Warriors (10-7, 4-4) had won seven games in a row and are tied for third place with Steel Valley in Section 4. The Warriors play host to section leader Thomas Jefferson Friday.
Davidson averages 23.6 points and 10 rebounds per game, and is the catalyst for an offense that averages a section-best 66.1 points per game. He's scored at least 30 points four times, including 33-point efforts against Steel Valley and Yough.
"When coach gives me the green light, I just go," Davidson said.
What makes Davidson so rare and a nightmarish matchup is that he can play all five positions on the floor, much like Cash did years ago. One minute Davidson is running the point and the next he's posting up against an opposing center.
Davidson is in his first year at Elizabeth Forward after attending McKeesport his sophomore year. He was a starter at McKeesport last season and attended West Mifflin as a freshman.
Grayson is also in his first season at Elizabeth Forward, marking his debut as a boys varsity coach. Grayson coached the McKeesport girls from 1985-98, helping the Tigers win the WPIAL Class AAAA championship his final season, Cash's senior year. He later coached the Duquesne girls team.
Elizabeth Forward's list of new faces extends past Davidson and Grayson. Starting point guard Jalen French, a junior, played at Imani Christian last year. He had previously attended McKeesport. French, as well as most of the Warriors' other main contributors, were primarily junior varsity players last season. The collaboration of so many unfamiliar faces was likely a key factor in the team's 3-6 start.
"It had to be one of the hardest things I've ever had to deal with in my years of coaching," Grayson said. "None of the kids really knew each other. We didn't play our first game together until the first game on the schedule. It's not like we played in the summer or fall."
Davidson said the pieces have been falling into place in recent weeks.
"We've just been playing together and learning each other's games. We're just all coming together," he said.
Davidson is also a very talented football player. Last fall, Davidson, a quarterback, rushed for more than 1,000 yards and 16 touchdowns, and was a Post-Gazette South Fabulous 22 selection.
Many colleges believe Davidson's future is in football, as he is receiving heavy Division I interest.
When South Fayette lost to Chartiers Valley last week, the Lions were on -- I guess you could say -- the positive side of a rare feat.
South Fayette made a shot at the buzzer at the end of all four quarters. Evan Bonnaure beat the buzzer at the end of the first and fourth quarters, Zach Challingsworth did it at the end of the second, and C.J. Rudisill closed out the third quarter with a basket.
Chartiers Valley coach Tim McConnell said afterward he was unaware of the statistical anomaly, but once told of it, he was understandably surprised.
Said McConnell: "That's unbelievable. I don't think I've ever seen that before."
Chartiers Valley won the game, 50-46.
Here is a key boys game to keep an eye on next week.
Tuesday, Chartiers Valley at Montour, 7:30 p.m. -- Will Montour be able keep Chartiers Valley center Spencer Casson in check this time around? Casson had a triple-double of 10 points, 17 rebounds and 13 blocks in a 75-62 Colts win on Jan. 4. The Colts are undefeated in Class AAA Section 5 and have a two-game lead over Montour.
First Published January 24, 2013 12:00 am