2010 ACC Men's Basketball Legends: Clemson's Dale Davis
March 2, 2010
The 2010 ACC Basketball Legends class is a group of 12 former standout players - one from each ACC school - who will be honored during the 2010 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament. TheACC.com will feature two members of the ACC Legends Class each week during the six weeks prior to the tournament.
The annual ACC Legends Brunch will be held on Saturday, March 13 beginning at 10 a.m. Hosted by television personalities Tim Brant and Mike Hogewood, the ACC Men's Basketball Legends Brunch will be held in the in the Guilford Ballroom of the Sheraton Four Seasons Hotel.
Born in Toccoa, Georgia, Clemson great Elliot (Dale) Davis was a member of the only Tiger team to win an ACC regular-season championship and still has his name etched in the record books nearly 20 years since he last donned the orange and white.
At 6’11”, Davis was a powerful presence in the post. He was heavily recruited coming out of high school by several southern schools such as Georgia, Auburn and South Carolina, but decided on Clemson because it stood out to him as a great opportunity.
What an opportunity it turned out to be.
Another legendary Tiger forward, Horace Grant, had just left and Davis had the chance to become part of something special when he signed on to play next to Elden Campell. Davis and Campbell became known as the “Duo of Doom” for their imposing play in the blocks. All three would go on to enjoy long and successful careers in the NBA.
After finishing ACC play with a 7-7 mark in 1988-89, Davis and Campbell helped lead the Tigers to their first and only ACC regular season championship in school history the next season.
“The thing that stands out to me is that he was part of a [regular season] ACC Championship run at Clemson in 1990,” former Clemson head coach Cliff Ellis said. “He was bound and determined to help us win a championship, which he did.”
The Tigers clinched the regular season title over a Duke team that would go on to the Final Four, with a 97-93 win at Littlejohn Coliseum. After the victory, the players cut down the nets and celebrated with the Tiger faithful. Clemson went 10-4 in league play and finished 26-9 overall that season. The duo’s outstanding play was recognized as both were named All-ACC first-team selections.
“At the time we didn’t realize how good we had it, but those two guys showed how special they were with lengthy careers in the NBA, and why that team was special,” Ellis said. “It was a very special time for me and a very special team – the only team to win a [regular season] ACC Championship at Clemson.”
In the NCAA Tournament that same year, Clemson made a historic run to the Sweet 16 after climbing back from 16-points down against LaSalle in the second round to advance.
“We were down at the half and he took over the locker room and told the team, ‘We didn’t come this far to lose,’” Ellis said. “His leadership, rebounding and defense are really what propelled us that year.”
The Tigers eventually fell just short of reaching the Elite Eight when their comeback bid against No. 1-seed Connecticut fell short. After trailing by as much as 19-points to a loaded Huskies’ squad, Clemson clawed its way back into the game and grabbed a 70-69 lead with 11 seconds left on the clock. It looked as if Clemson was destined to win until Connecticut’s Tate George took a full-court pass from Scott Burrell and sank the game-winner as time expired.
Despite falling short, that Clemson team will forever be remembered in Tiger lore.
While at Clemson, Davis left his indelible mark on the record books. He averaged 13.6 points and 10 rebounds for his career and ranks second all-time on the career rebound list (1,216) and double-doubles (52) behind Tree Rollins, third in best rebound average (10.0), third in field goal percentage (.5882), third in free throws made (384), fourth in blocked shots (210) and seventh in points scored (1,650).
Davis is also just one of five players in ACC history to amass 1,500 points, 1,200 rebounds and 200 blocked shots in a career. That puts him in elite company with Wake Forest’s Tim Duncan, Duke’s Mike Gminski and Sheldon Brown as well as Virginia’s Ralph Sampson. Davis and Duncan share another accolade as the only two players since 1972 to lead the league in rebounding for three straight years, while Davis remains the only player in ACC history to lead the conference in rebounding and field goal percentage in consecutive years.
For all of his great contributions to the Tiger program, Davis became the first basketball player inducted into the Clemson Ring of Honor in 2000.
“He was a fierce competitor,” Ellis said. “When he played the game he brought his lunchbox with him. He would bring it. He was the best rebounder I ever coached, just fierce in attacking the glass.”
When his collegiate career was over, the Indiana Pacers selected Davis with the 13th pick of the 1991 NBA draft.
His success continued at the next level.
Davis led the Pacers in field goal percentage during his first nine years with the team and averaged a double-double in the 1993-94 season. He remains the all-time leader in field goal percentage and rebounding in franchise history.
In the 1999-2000 season, Davis was named to the NBA All-Star team for the first time and helped lead the Pacers to the NBA Finals that same season where they eventually lost to a stacked Lakers squad.
After that season the Pacers traded Davis to Portland where he played until the end of the 2003-04 season when he was traded to Golden State. After a brief stint with the Warriors, Davis was sent to New Orleans in a deal that involved Baron Davis, but never took the court for the Hornets. He ended up back in Indiana that same year and played in 26 games for the Pacers. In 2005, Davis signed on with the Detroit Pistons where he ended his career after 16 seasons.