FORT MADISON — Dayton Davis has been one of the best basketball players in the state over the past two seasons.
Last season, the 6-foot-4 Fort Madison High School senior earned all-state accolades while helping the Bloodhounds reach No. 1 in the Class 3A standings.
So when it came time to choose a sport to play in college, it would surely be a no-brainer. After all, what college coach wouldn’t love a 6-4 player who can step out of the gym and play in multiple positions?
Davis made it official this week by committing to play men’s volleyball at St. Ambrose University, an NAIA school in Davenport.
That’s right – volleyball.
Although Davis has only been playing volleyball at the club level for a year, he has unlimited potential in the sport and that is what intrigues him the most.
“I’m very excited about it. It’s definitely not something I saw coming until the end of my junior year,” Davis said. “I realized I had the potential to achieve a lot. I’m very excited about it.”
Davis helped the Bloodhounds climb to first place in Class 3A despite a sprained ankle that saw him miss two games late in the season. He was named Southeastern Conference Most Valuable Player and Class 3A Second Team with all-state honors. He averaged 20.9 points, 12.3 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 4.4 steals and 0.4 blocks and shot 49.3% from the field and 65.3% from the throw line frank.
Davis started playing volleyball in college. His half-sisters, Paige Loeffler and Jasmine Bass, played volleyball for Fort Madison and later played at Southeastern Community College.
It wasn’t long before Davis fell in love with the sport.
“I played with my stepsisters at Baxter Sports Complex in sand leagues,” Davis said. “I just did it for fun until my senior year.”
New London volleyball coach Lindsey Johnson saw Davis’ potential in volleyball and suggested he play on a club team in Davenport.
“She sent me a link to a volleyball club team and told me I should try it out,” Davis said. “I tried and made the team. I was only able to play in about four tournaments because of basketball, but some colleges looked at me and I started talking to people. coaches. That’s how I ended up in St. Ambrose.”
Davis will join a St. Ambrose team that went 10-17 last season under head coach Ray Green. The Fighting Bees graduated five seniors from this team.
Davis, who plans to major in political science with a minor in psychiatry, knows he will have his work cut out for him. But he is ready for the challenge.
“I really like hitting,” Davis said. “It will definitely be a big step forward because of my level of experience. I’m ready to work hard to make up for my lack of experience. It will definitely be fun.”
Davis credited Derek Doherty’s athletic enhancement program at Fort Madison with helping him succeed and reach college level.
“It really helped me tremendously,” Davis said. “I’ve been going since seventh grade. Once in high school, I really started noticing the effects it had on my body. My vertical leap increased and my strength increased tremendously. Everything gets better when you go to the EI program.”
Matt Levins is a sports reporter for the USA TODAY Network in Burlington, Iowa, which has covered local sports for 31 years. Contact him at [email protected]