“It’s never too late” is a time-honored axiom. Tommy Davis recently made those words a reality rather than a throwaway phrase.
Davis, a Gopher men’s basketball player (1982-85), left school as its fourth all-time scorer (1,481 points), was a fifth-round NBA draft pick by Dallas, and played overseas ball. But he also left school without his degree.
Now, decades later, Davis, a 2021 M Club Hall of Fame inductee, earned his bachelor’s degree in multidisciplinary studies. “You got a little bit of math, reading, a number of things all rolled into one,” he told the MSR by phone from his home in France, where he is a dual citizen.
“I’m always preaching it….never too late, no matter what you do. I wanted to finish. I just wanted to do it, and I did. The hardest part of getting it done was finding the time because once you’re working, you can only take a certain number of courses each semester.”
Then throw in an unexpected pandemic. “The work wasn’t that hard. It was just finding the time to meet all the requirements,” Davis pointed out. “We started in 2017. I didn’t take any classes in 2019.” Also during that time, Davis was Minneapolis Washburn’s boy’s varsity coach for a season (2017-18).
All told, it took Davis roughly three years from start to finish. Why, after all these years, after a successful playing and coaching career in France, did Davis choose to finish up and graduate from the U?
He said the idea of doing this came when he returned to the States a few years ago. “I came back to the States with my son. I went by [the school] and started talking to some of the people over there, and they were like, ‘Hey, man, you should do it.”
“I did,” Davis said proudly.
The former Gopher great, now a Minnesota graduate, works with former NBA great Tony Parker with his basketball academies. “I had known Tony before he started playing with the Spurs,” said Davis of the retired French native. He agreed to help Parker out if and when he started his basketball schools.
What will Davis do with his degree? “It won’t really enhance what I’m doing because I’m still doing the same thing. But just the fact that now, when I’m talking to the kids to keep pushing, keep going, finish what you start, it gives me a little bit more credibility.”
Will Davis return to the States any time soon? “I don’t know if I’ll be back because I’ve been over here for so long,” he said. “I was in France almost 30 years before I even came back to the States for five or six years.”
But he offers this advice: “It’s never too late. It’s a matter of disciplining yourself.”
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.