FORT WAYNE – This is why Rapheal Davis decided to finish his high school career three hours from home.
Everything that has to do with playing in the National High School Invitational the next three days – including the travel and the competition – encompass his reasons for leaving South Side after three years and playing at a prep school in LaPorte this year.
The 6-foot-5 senior forward and his La Lumiere teammates will be a part of the invitational, which is televised by three different ESPN channels.
It has been a good experience for the most part to get away from home, get away from my parents and learning how to be more responsible, and on the court playing against a lot of better competition day in and day out in practice and in games, Davis said.
Its also why he gave up a chance at winning SAC or postseason championships at the non-IHSAA school, or even why he lost out on being part of the Indiana All-Star team or in the discussion for Mr. Basketball.
It was basically starting college now with the competition and also with the school work and the traveling with basketball, said Davis, a Purdue signee. It was a jumpstart, and now I will go into Purdue pretty much as a sophomore.
Davis left his comfort zone so he could work on his game and begin to play under college-like conditions such as using the shot clock.
I felt like I needed to come up here and play ball and work on stuff in areas on the court and off the court, he said.
Davis, who led La Lumiere with 22.4 points, calls the invitational the biggest tournament I have every played in.
The Lakers (25-2) come into the eight-team tournament as the sixth seed, with Findlay Prep the top seed. La Lumiere, ranked No. 23 in the FAB 50 and No. 4 in the Midwest, beat Findlay Prep 67-66 at the Mike Miller Invitational in South Dakota.
Findlay Prep, from Henderson, Nev., is 29-1 this year.
I think we have a good chance of winning it, said Davis, who also averages 4.5 rebounds. We have beaten the No. 1 seed in the tournament. We are just going out there with a chip on our shoulder because we got a low seed.
Also on the La Lumiere team are fellow Purdue recruit Jay Simpson and Indiana recruit Hanner Perea. The Lakers have won 20 straight games.
There have been tradeoffs, though.
He hasnt been able to be around his family and friends, and they werent able to witness one of the biggest days of his life when he signed with the Boilermakers in November.
It was a good day for me, but I wish I could have been there with my friends and schoolmates who would have come to watch and support me, he said. It was a bittersweet day. I wish my parents could have come and watched. All in all, it was a good day for me.