OHS’s Jemal Davis signs on to play basketball at Warner University

OKEECHOBEE — Okeechobee High School senior Jemal Davis signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Warner University on Nov. 14.

Warner University basketball head coach Sean Hanrahan (left) listens as OHS senior Jemal Davis (right) speaks shortly before signing his letter of intent to play at Warner. Photo by Richard Marion.

The Warner University Royals basketball team is coming off back-to-back conference tournament championships in 2016 and ’17. Royals head coach Sean Hanrahan has experience getting NBA players like Chris Paul and Kevin Durant ready for the draft and says he liked what he saw from Davis on game film.

“Davis plays with a reckless abandonment on second and third effort, which is very hard to teach,” said Hanrahan. “When you watch him, you see that he has a nice skill set. He’s not just a back-to-the-basket guy. He can face-up, he can handle a little bit and he can shoot a little bit. He’s a great fit for our system.”

Hanrahan also gave a lot of credit to Brahman basketball coach Demetre Riles for his role in preparing Davis for the next step in his basketball career.

“Coach Riles has been all around this state and has taken this program over, and he’s done a great job,” continued Hanrahan. “They’re going to be really good in their district again, and I know they expect to go deep into the playoffs this year. So both the culture of winning that has been instilled in Jemal from coach Riles and also his parents who have prepared him to be the total student-athlete makes for a good combination that will breed success in college.”

Riles coached Davis not only at OHS but also in the summer basketball program Chobee Nation.

“Being in Chobee Nation allowed Jemal to play more games, get more reps and gain more confidence,” Riles explained. “Eventually every player realizes that it’s not just about getting better on the basketball court, it’s also about developing mentally and physically. Once he figured that out, it really started showing and you could tell he believed in himself.”

Davis echoed his coach’s sentiment that building up his confidence was key in taking his game to the next level.

“Playing at OHS helped me better my skill set, raise my confidence, which helped me play better and smarter basketball,” said Davis about his time at OHS before explaining why he decided to accept Warner’s offer. “I like the environment at Warner and the work ethic that they have when they play games. I really like the team’s focus and confidence.”

Before he plays his first game as a Royal, Davis will play in his senior season for the Brahmans. In 2017, Okeechobee made it to the district semifinals, where they were knocked out by a one-point loss to rival Jensen Beach, 45-44.

“That game at the end of last year lit a fire in the team,” said coach Riles of the heartbreaking loss. “And that fire is still lit. It’s a good thing we don’t play Jensen until the end of the year, so that fire can burn all season. This guys have something to work for, they have goals and they’re going to be ready.”

Davis says he can’t wait to face Jensen again.

“Right now I have a thing for them,” said Davis. “I’m ready to get back at them and get back into the game. We’re not losing this year; I got that in my heart. This year we’re going on a run. There’s no stopping us.”

The Brahman varsity basketball team will play its first regular-season game on Nov. 27 against Lincoln Park at 7 p.m. at Okeechobee. And Jensen Beach? They’ll be making the trip to Okeechobee on Feb. 1. Might want to circle that one on your calender.

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