Raptors' Davis getting mentored by Wallace

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:33 AM ET

TORONTO - As mentors go, Raptors rookie Ed Davis could do a lot worse than Ben Wallace.

Wallace, of course, is a spectacular success story, having gone undrafted into the NBA via community college and then Virginia Union, the lone NCAA school interested in him.

Through hard work and intense desire, Wallace has joined Dikembe Mutumbo as the NBA’s only four-time winners of the defensive player of the year award and recently became only the third undrafted player to play in 1,000 games.

That Wallace’s 1,000th match came against the Raptors on Wednesday night was an interesting coincidence.

Wallace has a long-standing connection to young Davis. Terry Davis, Ed’s father, like Charles Oakley, is one of the eight Virginia Union players to make the NBA. The elder Davis, like Oakley, served as a mentor to Wallace, before eventually becoming his teammate when, winding down his 10-year career, he joined the then second-year Wallace on the 1996-97 Washington Bullets.

Terry Davis helped Wallace, also an undersized (at least in terms of height) big man find his way and later, as it often goes in the NBA, Wallace returned the favour with Davis’ son.

Wallace marvelled at the turn of events.

“It’s crazy because when I was in college (Ed’s) daddy used to come back,” Wallace said. “We used to work out together, lift weights, run.

“Now I find myself giving Ed the same advice (Terry) gave me.”

Ed said he had played in Wallace-run basketball camps in Virginia since he was in middle school and had even scrimmaged with him since he was big enough to do so.

Even then, Davis had the confidence that would help propel him to the league.

“I wasn’t intimidated at all, more excited for the challenge,” Davis said. “I got to see where my game was at.”

Terry Davis also got his old teammate on the phone from time-to-time to talk to Ed, who himself was emerging as one of the top high school prospects in North America.

Wallace said Terry would explain to him that Ed was frustrated and ask if he could dispense advice and tell him to keep his head up.

“Those were the same things that his father used to do to me when I was in college,” Wallace said with a smile that betrayed his fierce on-court demeanour.

“So, you know, it’s come full-circle. Isn’t it amazing? Just imagine what you see when you stick around this league for 1,000 games.”

Yeah right, dad

Davis said while having an ex-NBAer in the household to lean on was great, “a father-son relationship is kind of like, you don’t want to hear it from your dad ... Having someone else in your ear other than (your) dad is good.”

The Raptors, who happily selected Davis out of North Carolina with the 13th pick of the 2010 draft, hope Davis will be half as good as Wallace. He has shown impressive flashes so far, but missing all of October and November — including training camp — has made his rookie campaign extra challenging.

On the bright side, Davis should be fresher than most first-year players down the stretch having not played as many games and he rebounded from a couple of subpar performances with 10 points and three rebounds against the Pistons.

The skinny Davis knows he must put on considerable weight if he wants to compete with the league’s behemoths.

Wallace thinks he’ll be fine as long as he keeps working hard.

But he also wants his protégé to know he isn’t there yet.

“I’m still the top dog. I got him,” Wallace said of his emphatic third-quarter block on a Davis attempt.

Wallace, in his 15th season, had also notched a career-high for points the last time he met Davis and the Raptors.

“Everybody thought I’d be gone by now, but I’m still here.”

Still here and still serving as a shining example for his star pupil.


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