VonCameron Davis

Walnut Ridge senior VonCameron Davis earned Ohio's Mr. Basketball award on Wednesday.

COLUMBUS – Columbus Walnut Ridge High School senior VonCameron Davis was announced as Ohio Mr. Basketball Wednesday by a statewide media panel.

Now in its 33rd year, the prestigious award was first given by the Associated Press in 1988. It has been voted by the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association since 2017.

The 6-foot, 5-inch, 220-pound Davis led Walnut Ridge to a 22-5 record and the school’s first Columbus City League championship since 1971. He averaged 26.2 points and 10.3 rebounds per game and shot 52.7 percent from the field. He will continue his academic and basketball career at Kent State University.

Davis and former Northland High School standout Jared Sullinger, a two-time Mr. Basketball honoree, are the only boys basketball players to earn first-team All-Columbus City League honors all four years.

Other finalists for the award were Christopher “CJ” Anthony of Harvest Prep, Luke Powell of Barnesville, Josiah Fulcher of Lima Senior, Grant Whisman of Middletown Madison, Zach Rasile of McDonald, Malaki Branham of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary and John Hugley of Lyndhurst Brush.

Journey of Hard Work Takes VonCameron Davis to Mr. Basketball

By Steve Blackledge

The Columbus Dispatch

Upon learning that he had been selected Ohio’s Mr. Basketball for 2020, Walnut Ridge senior VonCameron Davis ecstatically began thanking the coaches, personal trainers, teammates and opponents who helped him along the journey.

But right at the top of the list were his parents, Von and Dawanna Davis. Their blue-collar work ethic helped shape VonCameron into the humble person and relentless player he became.

“My Mom is a bus driver for Columbus City Schools and my Dad is a truck driver, so they get up at about 4 o’clock in the morning,” Davis said. “They’ve been great role models for me. Mom always wakes me up and I usually go to work out before school. I picked up that mindset from them.”

Scots second-year coach Chuck Jefferson said Davis’ claim is not embelished.

“He’s the first person at school almost every morning, usually about 5 a.m.,” Jefferson said. “Nothing has been given to VonCameron. He has earned everything he’s got with good old-fashioned hard work.”

Something of a renaissance man, Davis credits much of his cardiovascular strength and endurance to being a competitive swimmer. He was a lifeguard at a pool during summers.

Davis, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound senior forward who has signed to play at Kent State, had a senior season -- and a career -- to remember.

Practically unstoppable in the low and high post, Davis averaged 26.2 points and 10.3 rebounds while shooting 52.7 percent from the field for a 22-5 team that won its first City League title since 1971 and knocked off top-seeded Gahanna for a district championship before being ousted in regional play.

The multi-skilled left-hander finished his career with 2,201 points and 819 rebounds. He made first-team All-City four times. The only other player to do that was two-time Mr. Basketball winner Jared Sullinger of Northland.

Other finalists for the award were Christopher “CJ” Anthony of Harvest Prep, Luke Powell of Barnesville, Josiah Fulcher of Lima Senior, Grant Whisman of Middletown Madison, Zach Rasile of McDonald, Malaki Branham of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary and John Hugley or Lyndhurst Brush.

Ironically, Anthony is a neighbor and close friend of Davis. They rank Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, as the all-time leading scorers in central Ohio.

“I really didn’t know much about Mr. Basketball until a few years ago, but Jared and Trey (Burke) talked to me about how important it was and I made it a goal coming into the season,” Davis said. “I realize that a lot of it has to do with team success, and took care of that this year, so I’m thankful to my teammates.”

Jefferson said he first saw Davis as a freshman while scouting for Pickerington North coach Jason Bates, and immediately thought he possessed the tools to be special.

“Those first two years, he played mostly with his back to the basket and I made it my goal to help transform him into a more complete player,” Jefferson said. “He can do it all, from ball-handling to shooting, but the key thing is he’s not just a scorer. He was double- and triple-teamed a lot of games and he still found ways to make his teammates succeed. I compare him to Tim Duncan in that he leads by example.

“I can’t say enough good things about VonCameron. He’s a workhorse and real quit, humble kid who’s going to be very successful in the Mid-American Conference with Kent State. I think he can play right away there.”

Although many friends urged him to consider a more prominent program, Davis felt Kent State was a great fit and committed last summer. Golden Flashes assistant coach Julian Sullinger (an older brother of Jared) convinced him that Kent State (20-12) is a program on the rise.

Davis averaged 15.9 points and 6.9 rebounds as a freshman, 22.8 points and 6.9 rebounds as a sophomore and 27.5 points and 11.6 rebounds in 2018-19.

“It’s been quite a journey,” Davis said. “Although things didn’t turn out quite the way we wanted (losing to Hilliard Bradley in a regional semifinal), we made some history this year and community and alums really got behind us. That will be my greatest memory.”

sblackledge@dispatch.com

@BlackiePreps

Ohio Mr. Basketball winners

2020 – VonCameron Davis, Columbus Walnut Ridge

2019 – Samari Curtis, Xenia

2018 - Dane Goodwin, Upper Arlington

2017 - Kaleb Wesson, Westerville South

2016 - Xavier Simpson, Lima Senior

2015 - 2014 Luke Kennard, Franklin High School

2013 - Marc Loving, Toledo St. John's Jesuit

2012 - Justin Fritts, Mentor

2011 - Trey Burke, Columbus Northland

2010 - Jared Sullinger, Columbus Northland

2009 - Jared Sullinger, Columbus Northland

2008 - William Buford, Toledo Libbey

2007 - Jon Diebler, Upper Sandusky

2006 - O.J. Mayo, North College Hill

2005 - O.J. Mayo, North College Hill

2004 - Jamar Butler, Lima Shawnee

2003 - LeBron James, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary

2002 - LeBron James, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary

2001 - LeBron James, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary

2000 - (tie) Tony Stockman, Medina; Chester Mason, Cleveland South

1999 - Isaac Jefferson, Columbus West

1998 - William "Sonny" Johnson, Garfield Heights

1997 - Kenny Gregory, Independence

1996 - Jason Collier, Springfield Catholic

1995 - Damon Stringer, Cleveland Heights

1994 - Aaron Hutchins, Lima Central Catholic

1993 - Geno Ford, Cambridge

1992 - Greg Simpson, Lima Senior

1991 - Greg Simpson, Lima Senior

1990 - Bob Patton Jr., Youngstown Liberty

1989 - Jimmy Jackson, Toledo Macomber

1988 - Jimmy Jackson, Toledo Macomber

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