Kaela Davis is ready to take the Tech women’s basketball team to the next level. The 6-foot-2 Davis attended Buford high school and was ranked the number one guard in the country.
Davis comes at a time when that something special may be needed to boost the team’s mediocre performances.
Coach MaChelle Joseph has improved the Jackets program to a very competitive level in the ACC. Before taking over as head coach, Tech had been to only two NCAA tournaments in 29 years. Tech has been to the NCAA tournament six of the last seven seasons and Davis is the highest rated recruit to ever choose Tech.
The Tech women made the Sweet Sixteen in 2012 and finished ranked number 10 in the country, which is the highest they’ve ever been ranked. Last year, the Jackets were replacing five seniors and struggled throughout the year, but they bring in the No. 13 ranked recruiting class this season, which is headlined by Davis.
Davis had originally committed to Tennessee, but changed her mind when she realized the opportunities she had if she came to Tech. Every school in America recruited Davis, but there was playing time available from the get-go and the chance to be the first Lady Jacket to have their jersey retired.
“I think the biggest reason was obviously for educational purposes. I want to study engineering and obviously Tech is one of the best if not the best to get that done. Tech is a great program. Last year, they had a good season and I think that if we get the right kids in here we can end up being one of the best programs in women’s basketball,” Davis said.
Her father is Antonio Davis. He played in the NBA for 13 years and was an NBA All-Star in 2001. Davis was involved in basketball from a young age and values the experiences she had growing up with a father playing in the NBA.
“It was fun to be able to see basketball at its highest level. It was always a great experience. Now, looking back on it, I can gain more from it than growing up. It had a lot to do with my understanding of the game,” Davis said.
Davis is also the god-sister of Candace Parker. Parker is one of the best women’s basketball players in the world and won two NCAA championships at Tennessee.
“We grew up in the same area. We were both from the Chicago areas—Naperville. Our families just always knew each other and we got really close and would spend a lot of time together growing up,” Davis said.
Being around such a great player helped Davis develop and learn from the best.
“I definitely think as far as work ethic and what you need to do to get better and succeed… she has helped me tremendously with that,” Davis said.
Davis is starting in the backcourt along with senior Ty Marshall. Last year, Marshall was first team All-ACC and together, the two have the potential to be the best backcourt in the ACC.
“We just have to always be on the same page. We have to work hard. We’re getting a lot of hours in the gym and we just need to put in a lot of time and focus on the little things,” Davis said.
However, Marshall was injured this past weekend with a concussion and Davis was the go-to player. The Jackets struggled at the beginning of the season opener to find their offensive flow, but eventually they found their rhythm.
“It was a quick turnaround to come in and think Ty’s going to be here and going to run point. That’s part of the game though; we had to make adjustments and did what we had to do to get the job done,” Davis said.
Davis was also named ACC Freshman of the Week. In the first two games of the year, Davis averaged 20 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. Davis thinks the team has a chance to achieve a lot this season and thinks they can get back to the Sweet Sixteen.
There haven’t been many five star players to choose Tech for women’s basketball and Davis thinks that she and coaching staff can make it happen, but she doesn’t feel any added pressure being the highest rated recruit to choose Tech for any sport since Derrick Favors.
“I think it means something that you can come here and make a difference. We can collectively come in here and hopefully that will reflect on all sports around Tech. It all just goes back to making a difference and making a name for Tech. I definitely think it can have a domino effect,” Davis said.
Tech has yet to win a women’s ACC Championship and that is a major goal for this year’s team and for the program. The Jackets lost in the final in 2012 and the combination of Davis and Marshall has the potential to get them back this year.
“ACC championship is what we want. That’s kind of the first step. We just want to make a difference and do better than what we have done in the past,” Davis said.
Even though her dad is 6-foot-9 and has only been retired for seven years, Davis believes she could beat him today.
“I’m gonna say I would have to win. He’s old now. He’s slowed down a little bit. He probably wouldn’t appreciate me saying that. But he’s still so fundamentally sound and I think it would be a good game,” Davis said.
The Jackets face off against the fourth ranked Tennessee Volunteers Saturday, a game Davis is looking forward to.