With tipoff just a few minutes away and warmups occurring on the court behind him, Shippensburg University assistant coach Chuck Davis walks up to the scorer’s table.
Davis approaches with a friendly smile followed by a reluctant question, “How many points does he need?” referring to SU All-American Dustin Sleva’s point total and how far away Sleva was to breaking Davis’ record.
While the answer at the time was not many — Sleva surpassed Davis for career points with his 1,826th point on a hook shot from the low post on Feb. 7 against Millersville University — the two are cemented as No. 1 and 2 in the record book, but the duo is also linked off the court.
“As great of a player as he was, to be able to pass him is special,” Sleva said. “Chuck was a special player and the way he shot the ball and the things that he did is similar to what I’ve been able to do. To personally know the person I passed is extremely special and I’m extremely proud.”
Davis, who spent his collegiate career at SU from 2003-04 to 2006-07, returned to SU — after playing professional basketball in Turkey, as well as the NBA Developmental League — as an assistant coach, and instantly formed a tight bond with Sleva on and off the court.
“Ever since I have been a part of the coaching staff here at Ship, me and Dustin have built a great rapport,” Davis said. “I’m someone he talks to about basketball and he picks and pokes at me about different things, whether it’s shooting, things he has done good in a game, things he can improve on. We have a really tight relationship on and off the court. I’ve always told him I am here to help him in any way, shape or form that I can, and he can always use me as a resource if he feels the need to.”
Pursuing a master’s in organizational leadership, Davis has spent his last two seasons as a part of a Raider coaching staff that has helped turn SU into a national powerhouse, as SU went a school record 27-4 while advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
“For Coach Fite to give me that opportunity to be a part of the coaching staff, I love basketball, I love teaching it and being around it,” Davis said. “So being a part of the coaching staff and learning from Coach Fite and Gembe, Coach Miller and Coach Bupp, they all have a ton of experience coaching and it’s an honor for me to be a part of what they have and what our program has become.”
Davis was an outstanding player in his own right at SU and was awarded for it, being inducted into the SU Sports Hall of Fame in 2017, an accomplishment that Davis is extremely proud of.
“It was awesome. Basketball has been my life for years. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a successful basketball player and Shippensburg gave me the opportunity to pursue my education and continue to play basketball,” Davis said. “It was an honor to be honored by the university. I have great pride for Shippensburg so just being inducted and a lifetime member of the university is definitely an honor to me and one of the best achievements of my life so far.”
Davis broke Keith Hill’s all-time scoring record of 1,780 points against Slippery Rock University on a 3-pointer. He finished with 16 points before increasing his point total against Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Davis led SU to the NCAA Tournament in his first season as a Raider, while also helping the team get to a then school record 24 wins. His biggest accomplishment however, may have come on Nov. 6, 2006, when he scored a game-high 29 points to help SU defeat the Penn State Nittany Lions, 67-61, at the Bryce Jordan Center in an exhibition game.
In the game, SU trailed Penn State 37-28 at halftime, before Davis scored 17 points in the second half, including a 3-pointer that gave the Raiders their first lead with 7:27 remaining.
“I played my heart out and I had a really good game,” Davis said. “The biggest thing though was that we won the game. I could’ve scored two points or zero points, but the fact that we beat a Division I team that night on their court, that was the best experience.”
For SU, it was a monumental win, especially for Davis, who was recruited by then Penn State coach Ed DeChellis when he coached at East Tennessee State. Davis did not receive an offer while DeChellis moved to Penn State. For Davis, it was all the motivation he needed.
“That Penn State game I had a little bit of a chip on my shoulder. The coach at the time recruited me and for some reason he didn’t think I would fit at his team at East Tennessee State,” Davis said. “After my freshman season at SU they were inquiring to me about playing at Penn State my sophomore year because of the success I was having, but I decided to stay here, and I think that was the best decision. I wanted to prove that I was a Division I talent.”
After the success in the game, Davis was a hot commodity when it came to sports media, as his name showed up in several blogs as well as The Patriot for his success against the Nittany Lions. DeChellis offered up some kind words as well.
“Well, Shippensburg was just better than us tonight. We made a million mistakes out there. We couldn’t pass and catch the ball. We told them that Chuck Davis was a very good player, and that he could probably play anywhere in the country, in any league. We didn’t change defenses on purpose,” DeChellis said postgame, per gopsusports.com.
“We stayed in man-to-man to show them that we had to guard somebody,” DeChellis continued. “We could have gone into zone and try to camouflage some things, but I thought it was important for us to just come out and play. He was a very good player. He is the type of player that we are going to play all year. Hopefully, we will learn from it.”
Davis’ SU playing career ended with a then school record 1,825 points and a school record 203 steals.
Davis now shifts his attention to graduation, but he has not ruled out that he will continue to coach basketball someday.
“Graduating is going to be awesome. Again, as of right now I don’t know what the next step is,” Davis said. “Of course, I will have to start applying for jobs and everything and if there is an opportunity to work at Shippensburg I would love that, but I have to see what my options are. I would love to continue to be on the coaching staff, but I’ll have to see what happens before I can make a final decision. Coach Fite has been awesome to me, he has welcomed me into his program and has treated me as one of his own.”
Sleva now looks to Davis, as well as SU coach Chris Fite for advice as he tries to further his career following graduation in May. Davis’ special skillset, as well as a knowledge of the professional levels overseas — along with Fite who played professionally for 11 seasons internationally — should provide Sleva with some helpful insight in the next few weeks.
“Coach Fite has a lot of connections with different clubs overseas,” Sleva said. “He has a lot of friends he made over there. Chuck played a couple and played in the D League, so he’s going to work me out. That aspect is huge, especially in this area where there aren’t many things around here. To have two guys that have been there and have experienced that is huge.”
Davis will leave SU as one of the best players to ever put on a Raider uniform, as well as a member of a coaching staff that has helped turn SU basketball into a national name. Whether on or off the court, Davis’ Hall of Fame resume will carry him to success wherever he ends up.