Amid the hectic environment during a practice in late November 2014 at Draddy Gymnasium, Rasheen Davis, associate head coach of the men’s basketball team at Manhattan College, stood calm.
The squeaking of sneakers, the thud of the basketball as it hit the hardwood floor and the chatter among players were often dwarfed by the rambunctious yelling from head coach Steve Masiello and his assistant coaches, as they relayed instructions to their players.
But Davis stood there, quietly.
He only occasionally broke out of his Zen-like state to either calmly give players commands or modestly clap for those who followed directions. Then, all of a sudden, Davis, seeing that the players were not running a three-on-three drill correctly, burst into a fit of rage.
“Block out! Block out! Block out!” Davis shouted.
This mini-tantrum, was a random occurrence, much like the reason for Davis becoming a coach.
Davis entered the coaching ranks as a graduate assistant at his alma mater after a torn MCL in his right knee ended his playing career in his senior season at St. Thomas Aquinas College.
Despite the severity of the injury, Davis has taken full advantage of it and has turned it into a blessing in disguise. Davis has gone on to make a name for himself as an elite recruiter and top-notch assistant coach, something he might not have had a chance to accomplish had he kept playing basketball.
“I’ve been fortunate,” Davis said. “I’ve been spoiled. I’ve worked for Rick Pitino, who’s pretty good. Jamie Dixon, who’s pretty good. Chris Mack, who’s pretty good and Steve Masiello who’s pretty good.”
The fortune Davis referred to has been a constant theme for him. It not only played a part in his career as a coach, but also played a pivotal role in a dark time in his life.
Born with brain arteriovenous malformation, an irregular link between arteries and veins that caused Davis to struggle through migraine headaches as a child, Davis had a near death experience during his sophomore year of college.
After being hit with an unexpected screen during practice, which caused severe migraine headaches and a fever, Davis had a seizure for the first time in his life.
Doctors eventually diagnosed Davis with a brain hemorrhage that was potentially terminal, but underwent surgery to save him.
Davis considers himself lucky just to be alive.
“I value every day I wake up,” Davis said. “No matter how bad or how good things are going. Just the fact that I woke up, I don’t take that for granted and I don’t take that lightly.”
There are many things Davis feels fortunate about, but what is not a matter of fortune is the reputation Davis has earned as a coach and elite recruiter.
That is just a matter of hard work.
Davis was not handed anything. He had to start as a graduate assistant at St. Thomas Aquinas College, where he coached from 2002-2005.
He went on to step down, albeit to a national powerhouse in Rice High School from 2005-2007.
He took a job at Louisville as a program assistant during the 2007-2008 season, where he had to live in a dorm.
He was only a video coordinator at Pittsburgh from 2008-2010 and it was finally at Xavier from 2010-2012 where he got his big breakthrough as an assistant coach.
At Xavier, Davis served a key role in the recruiting process, nabbing players who helped the school reach the NCAA Tournament in Davis’ two seasons.
“[Davis] does a tremendous job recruiting,” Xavier’s head coach Chris Mack said through an email. “The players know he really cares about them.”
After a Sweet Sixteen appearance with Xavier in 2012, Davis made the decision to accept an offer from Steve Masiello to become an assistant at Manhattan College.
“I thought it was something [Davis] could be a major part of: the rebuilding process,” Masiello said. “I thought he was someone that could come back home to the New York City area where he was from, have a chance to be around a lot of the people he knew and be a key component to a successful program.”
In his almost three years at Manhattan College, Davis has been that key component Masiello was expecting.
As an ace-recruiter, a tag Davis carried with him even before coming to Manhattan, Davis has helped land numerous New York City based players.
Samson Usilo, Samson Akilo, Rich Williams and Tyler Wilson were all recruited to come to Manhattan by Davis. Others like Emmy Andujar and Shane Richards, although they were technically not recruited by Davis, were suggestions he made to Masiello.
The names Davis has landed throughout his career did not commit to their respective schools by accident. Davis, just like many other elite recruiters, has his techniques that help him win over recruits.
“My method is very different,” Davis said. “I’m brutally honest. That’s my gift and that’s my curse. At the end of the day, there’s no parent; there’s no coach; there’s no young man that can ever say, ‘well coach Davis didn’t tell me when you come to Manhattan we’re going to be on your you know what every step of the way.’”
Masiello, a top-notch recruiter himself, has reaped the rewards of Davis’ recruiting in just two full seasons at Manhattan, winning a NCAA Tournament berth last season and just missing out on one the year before.
“Recruiting is all about relationships,” Masiello said. “It’s all about the ability to relate to people, trust people, having trust in you and believing what you say. Rasheen [Davis] does a great job of really developing relationships and not having an agenda in the relationships, but always being honest upfront.”
Davis’ recruiting acumen perhaps was never tested as much as it was during the past offseason, as he was faced with the task of convincing Jermaine Lawrence, a five-star recruit coming out of high school who had struggled in his freshman season at Cincinnati, to transfer to Manhattan.
Lawrence had Iona and Hofstra after him as well, but ultimately, the relationship with Davis played a key role in convincing him to transfer to Manhattan.
“[Davis] was just keeping it real with me, telling me what I needed to do and how to get to the next level,” Lawrence said. “He was just like a real dude. He just knows how to talk to you for real and he understands.”
Davis and Lawrence knew each other since Davis was at Xavier, where he initially recruited Lawrence as a sophomore.
“I got to know [Davis] pretty well,” Lawrence said. “My family got to know him pretty well, so that just carried on when we got to Manhattan.”
Players like Lawrence have only bolstered the long list of Davis’ recruits, and in turn, have boosted Davis’ coaching resume. The more recruits Davis lands the higher the chances are that one day a program will offer him a head coaching position.
“That’s what I want to happen for [Davis],” Masiello said. “That’s what it’s all about, making people around you better and hopefully he gets the opportunity, and he’ll be a terrific head coach one day.”
But head coaching isn’t in Davis’ mind. At least not yet.
“I firmly believe that you can’t really worry about the next job because I haven’t mastered this current job,” Davis said. “My school of thought is worry about the job you do have and if you do that right that next job will come.”