When South Carolina standout guard, Kaela Davis, heard her name called as the 10th pick in the 2017 WNBA draft, one of the first people to congratulate her was someone who knows the feeling and Kaela all too well.
Twenty-seven years earlier, Davis’ father, Antonio, saw his own basketball dreams become a reality in the same city. Antonio was selected 45th overall by the Indiana Pacers in the 1990 NBA draft. While Kaela didn’t have to wait quite as long to hear her name be called, having a father who played in the NBA as a mentor and supporter is something that neither take for granted.
“It means everything,” Kaela responded when asked about what it means to continue the professional basketball legacy her father started all those years ago, and continued for 13 seasons with four different NBA franchises. “To have a legacy going on, it means a lot to me to carry the Davis name and extend it a little bit.”
Like his daughter, Antonio understood the importance of the moment Kaela heard her name called.
“It’s been a long road, from the SEC tournament to the NCAA tournament where they when the championship and now to turn around and here we are seeing her get drafted,” he told WNBA.com. “It’s just so exciting as a family and I couldn’t be prouder of my daughter. I knew this was huge for her and something she really wanted, I couldn’t be happier to see her dreams come true.”
What a moment for the Davis family!
— WNBA (@WNBA) April 14, 2017
For Kaela, this dream didn’t truly come to fruition until Thursday night at Samsung 837 butAntonio seemed to know that this all very possible for her from a young age.
“There was one game really early in Kaela’s career where she made a mistake and coach pulled her out of the game and she started crying,” Antonio told WNBA.com. “She then went back in later in the game and hit the winning bucket. At that point in time I knew there was something in her, that competitiveness and drive, that was going to propel her very far.”
That competitiveness and drive Antonio saw from Kaela at an early age only intensified as she got older. She ascended to the top ranked guard in the country in her 2013 high school class, earned All-ACC honors in her first two years at Georgia Tech. That drive was the catalyst behind her stellar junior season at South Carolina where she played a pivotal role in the Gamecocks winning their first National Championship in school history.
That same mentality has her poised to start what looks to be a promising career with fellow USC backcourt running mate Allisha Gray and proven WNBA star Skylar Diggins in Dallas.
But Dallas can wait because Thursday was simply about celebrating how far she’s come and the monumental feat of simply being selected to play in the WNBA, let alone as the 10th overall pick. Luckily, in the midst of all the hugs, smiles and kisses there’s a father who has done all of this before and knows what lies ahead for Kaela.
“I don’t even think she really understands what’s going on right now,” Antonio said with a smile. “I think her head is just spinning and rightfully so, a week ago we weren’t sure what she was going to be doing, but here we are and now she has to grow up. Like I told her it’s different when you’re a professional it’s your life, it’s what you do. Now you really have to take care of the little things like eating right, working out and getting to the gym. But, I think she’s ready.”
— WNBA (@WNBA) April 14, 2017
Now, basketball is her career. He explained that a big part of being a professional is keeping your body in peak performance shape. But, not to worry, he may have his daughter covered when it comes to that as well.
“I asked her if she would hire me as her personal trainer,” Davis said. “I told her that I could also be her post coach, I think I’m pretty good at it, she said I’ll consider it.”
While it’s still up in the air whether Kaela will bring her father along to Dallas to make sure she’s getting her necessary workouts in, there’s no doubt that Antonio will be supporting Kaela every step of the way as she embarks on her WNBA journey.
The old adage may typically read “like father, like son,” but in the case of the Davis family, “like father, like daughter” has never been more true.