DAVON Potts took a step closer from fulfilling a life goal that wouldn’t be possible without the influence of two important men in his life.
The 24-year-old Fil-Am of San Beda credited his late grandfather for opening the door and introducing him to the PBA as well as former college coach Jamike Jarin for pushing him hard and giving him the confidence of reaching that dream.
Potts couldn’t help but think about these people on Monday when he officially applied and made himself available in the league’s coming rookie draft.
“I kind of think about that a lot especially now with the situation,” said Potts, one of eight players who managed to beat the deadline set for Fil-foreigners to submit their required papers before the Commissioner’s Office.
Born in Cerritos, California to a Filipina mother and American father, Potts was honest enough to admit he has no idea about the PBA until his grandfather on his mother side told it about him at the time he was already playing college ball at Cal State.
“That’s like the NBA of the Philippines,” Potts remembered his grandpa, whose roots are from Rosario, Cavite, telling him about Asia’s first ever play-for-pay league when he visited him in San Diego a few years ago.
It was during one of his conversations with him that he urged his playing grandchild to try his luck in the PBA.
“He told me, make it a promise to me that if you can’t make it to the NBA, the D-League, or whatever, at least try and go out there. I know you have family here in the States and everybody is pretty much here, but at least try,” recalled Potts about what his grandfather told him.
“OK, I’ll do it for you,” he replied.
Soon after, he passed away.
Jarin would later play a big part for Potts to realize his grandfather’s wishes.
While Potts had been under the radar of San Beda team manager Jude Roque for a long time, it was not until he was able to personally talk to Jarin in Las Vegas that he got convince of coming over to the country.
“The first conversation that we had, he told me 'you’ll gonna start, and you’ll gonna be a great player for me because I know what you’re capable of doing,'” was what Jarin told Potts, who was also being recruited then by Ateneo.
“I really didn’t take that because I’m not the type of person that will have an utmost confidence and be cocky about it,” he said.
But right there and then, he knew the Filipino coach had trust in his ability.
“We both have that trust from day one,” stressed Potts. “He was the only one who really trusted me. He was a big factor in my career.
“He was the one who really jumpstarted my career. A lot of people wouldn’t really know who I was if not for him.”
Potts would play according to his coach’s expectations and served as big a factor in the Red Lions reclaiming the NCAA men’s basketball title by beating the Arellano Chiefs in the finals last year.
Soon after, Jarin walked away and accepted the coaching offer of National University in the UAAP.
“It was heartbreaking when he first left the team,” admitted Potts.
Now that he’s on the verge of launching a pro career, he can’t help but look back at these men for being there for him from the beginning.
Potts said coming over here is not all about playing basketball. It’s also a way of learning his roots and getting to know his Filipino relatives.
“Maybe there are a lot of Fil-foreigners who come here to just play basketball. I think that’s not the right way to think,” he said. “You should really know where you come from.
“For me, it’s important to know exactly where I came from, how it all started, and make sure basketball is more of a tool for me to get back to my roots and reconnect. That’s big for me.”
His parents had separated when he was only four years old and dealing with the situation at a very young age has toughened him up in life.
"I used that all for motivation and I matured young, so I used all of that together," said the San Beda star.
For someone, who's been through a lot in life, Potts, who admits being impressed with the likes of Terrence Romeo, Stanley Pringle, and Matthew Wright, couldn't care less which team would have enough trust in him come draft day. All he wants is to be of help to his team.
“I just prefer to be on the team that I am needed,” he said. “There are teams that need help and I wanted to be the person that could help.”
Nice words of wisdom from the Fil-Am guard himself, obviously reflective of what he learned from his late grandpa and his former college coach.