Long Island’s Darien Davis was scrolling through his Instagram page one day when he happened upon the Ones Basketball League (OBL), the one-on-one basketball tournament created by NBA Hall of Famer and 15-year league veteran Tracy “T-Mac” McGrady.
He decided to throw his hat into the showcase and got picked for it. With only four days to prepare, though, Davis recorded an 8-2 record and took home third place at the OBL New York Regional in May, in Brooklyn.
“I played against, and I played with, some of the players in Brooklyn,” he said. “My game plan was to do what I do: play defense and take what they gave me.”
It worked. Davis’s impressive play has earned him the No. 14 ranking in the OBL Finals on Friday, July 15th to Saturday, July 16th at The Dollar Loan Center, in Henderson, Nev., against 21 other competitors.
At first, Davis was not 100 percent sold on the OBL, but knew it was for real when he learned McGrady was organizing the event. Now, he realizes this is a great chance to prove himself and win a life-changing $250,000 grand prize in the process.
Davis said he did not receive much playing time at Longwood High School in Middle Island, New York, until his senior year. But he excelled when he the chance and went on to establish single-season school records in points scored and assists.
“Opportunities like this never come my way,” Davis said. “But when I saw Tracy McGrady’s name attached to it, I knew it was legitimate.
“This is a second opportunity to play basketball,” he continued. “I had basically given up playing basketball, but this is a great opportunity.”
Davis attended and suited up for a year at Mohawk Valley Community College (NJCAA Region 3) before leaving to attend to family matters. Then, he returned and finished out his college playing career at the now-defunct Division II Dowling College, where he averaged more than 18 points per game in three years from 2012-15 for the Golden Lions.
Davis shined at Dowling, no doubt, and a few professional hoops offers followed suit. However, he noted that the salaries were not enough for him to make a living and persuade him to play overseas.
So, basketball became less of a top priority over time. But Davis never lost his love and passion for the sport.
Currently, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound shooting guard said he has been engaging in sweat-inducing, gut-busting working outs and playing basketball in the gym five days a week since making the finals.
Davis feels that this time out will yield different, more positive results for him.
“One on one basketball is a special competition,” he said. “I’m super excited for Vegas. I did not like coming in third place. I’m mad at myself. I’m working hard to change the results for myself.”
OBL events took place in Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, New York, DMV/Washington and Los Angeles.
In addition to the impressive monetary prize, the champ of the OBL Finals will be crowned “Ruler of the Court.”
— Jerry Del Priore
Photos: Ones Basketball League (OBL)