FAIRBANKS — Gabe Howard went from rival to resource for Divon Davis.
Three seasons ago, Howard and Davis were rival boys high school basketball point guards in Fairbanks. Davis ran the floor for Monroe Catholic High School and Howard did likewise for Lathrop.
However, Friday afternoon in the Monroe Catholic library, Davis signed a National Letter of Intent with the Mendocino College men’s basketball program. Howard recently completed his sophomore season and career for the junior college team in Ukiah, California.
The 5-foot-9 Davis spoke with Howard when the Monroe Catholic point guard was researching Mendocino, which plays in the Bay Valley Conference of the California Community Colleges Athletic Association.
“I talked with him about finances and just a little bit about how they play,” Davis, 18, said while seated at a table with family members — father, Gee Jackson; mother, Lucreata Davis; and brothers, Travous Williams and Damarcus Davis — before a large crowd in the library.
“He (Howard) said I should be fine,’’ Davis said. “I should be able to have success there if I work hard.”
Howard’s advice was a big help for Davis’ transition into college basketball.
“It made it very easy,’’ he said. “I’m real close with Gabe. I was real close with him before he went to college and communicated with him a lot. It made me more comfortable knowing that he went there and did good there. That made me real excited.”
Davis also communicated with Eagles head coach Billy Offill, who was just as interested in the Monroe standout’s life after basketball at Mendocino.
“He wasn’t saying anything about me helping the team. He was saying our goal is to get you to a four-year college,’’ Davis said. “That made me really want to go there right away when he was talking about that.”
Davis said Offill’s gesture reminded him of Monroe Catholic’s program.
“That felt great,” he said. “That felt a little bit like Monroe — honestly, a lot like Monroe, where they were not thinking about themselves but they were thinking about other people. And they want to see others succeed.”
Davis was a consummate team player during his four seasons with the Rams.
“I’m very unselfish,’’ Davis said, “and I think it has a lot to do with this community and how they helped me. I love to see others succeed and they also helped me with my work ethic.”
His unselfishness was as equally effective for Monroe as his abilities were on the hardwood for the Rams, who during Davis’ career were Class 3A state runners-up in the 2014-15 and 2016-17 seasons.
“Anybody who’s watched us play for four years knows what Divon brings to our program in terms of ability,’’ said Rams head coach Frank Ostanik, who also is Monroe Catholic’s athletic director.
“But I don’t think what everybody sees and recognizes in Divon is how he impacts everybody else and makes them better. How much he cares for them. His impact on the freshmen, the time he’ll spend with those guys, talking to them. ... Divon’s one of those guys, he wants to see everybody succeed.”
Davis said he plans to earn an associate degree in kinesiology at Mendocino and work for a physical therapy degree when he gets to a four-year college.
Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports.