Man, talk about an epic collision of totally random awesomeness that leaves you shaking your head to clear the cognitive dissonance. That was me discovering the parentage of Cubs prospect Brennen Davis, who has been getting a lot of love since being selected in the second round of last year’s draft. His raw athleticism is impossible not to love and he’s only just now focusing on baseball after a standout prep basketball career.
That latter bit offers a clue into his patrilineal talent, though his mother was an accomplished athlete in her own right. Check out this blurb on Davis, who was ranked No. 12 on FanGraphs’ list of the top 31 Cubs prospects.
If you’re looking for the Platonic Ideal of upside, it exists in Davis, who is raw as a hitter but still enthralling in every other possible way. Davis was his conference’s Defensive POY on a 2016 state championship basketball team and didn’t fully commit to baseball until his senior year. His mother was a track and field athlete at the University of Washington and his father is former NBA All-Star, Reggie Theus. In addition to his athletic gifts, scouts rave about Davis’ maturity as a student and a worker (often citing the odd hours he keeps taking care of a goat and llamas at his family home), and all thought he’d be able to cope with likely early-career contact struggles and would work to improve his ability to hit. If Davis grows into a 40 bat, he could be a star because of his power and ability to play center field. There’s some risk he never gets there.
Yes, that’s the Reggie Theus, best known as the actor who played basketball coach Bill Fuller at fictional Deering High School in the equally fictional town of Deering, Indiana on the NBC show Hang Time. The brutally cheesy teen sitcom followed in the wake of Saved by the Bell and featured a group of kids who were supposedly really good at basketball despite displaying a decided lack of ability over the course of six seasons.
Seriously, it ranks fifth on my list of least believable basketball performances in a movie or television series. Spots 1-4 all belong to The Basketball Diaries, in which Leonardo DiCaprio is a star point guard and the 5-foot-8 Marky Mark Wahlberg plays the team’s center. Hang Time at least managed to rope in Alonzo Mourning, one of my all-time favorite players, so it wasn’t all bad.
Their gym was tiny and the rims couldn’t have been more than 9 feet tall, but Coach Fuller made it work. He even successfully incorporated Deering’s first female player, Julie Connor, who transferred from Chicago and fought an uphill battle to win the respect of her male teammates. Despite his success, Fuller was replaced in season four by Mike Katowinski, a hard-nosed leader played by Bears legend Dick Butkus.
Hang Time also helped launch the careers of Anthony Anderson and Jay Hernandez, who eventually married Daniella Deutscher, the actress who played Connor. Wild stuff, huh.
Now let’s get back to Theus, who’s actually best known for a stellar 13-year NBA career in which he averaged 18.5 points and 6.3 assists en route to becoming the second-best Reginald Wayne in league history. He’s also the man at least as responsible for the Bulls drafting Michael Jordan as either Stu Inman or Jerry Krause. Actually, Theus was probably more influential in the decision than Krause, since taking Jordan at No. 3 in 1984 was a no-brainer.
The Bulls were awful in the1983-84 season, Theus’s sixth with the team, and they needed to make some changes. Theus wasn’t playing well and was riding the bench for the much of the season, so he was traded to Kansas City (now Sacramento) in February. In return, the Bulls received Steve Johnson and a trio of second-round picks. But the real win came when they were so bad they were able to pick third in the upcoming draft.
And that’s where we get to Inman, ill-fated general manager of the Portland Trail Blazers. The Rockets selected Hakeem Olajuwon with the first pick and the Blazers, who already had Clyde Drexler at shooting guard, selected a willowy center with serious leg injury in his past. Geez, it’s almost like it’s a pattern with them. Sam Bowie’s name would go down in infamy while the Bulls were gifted Michael Jordan, who went on to have a decent career.
This whole thing just has so many Chicago ties, it’s worthy of it’s own podcast episode. Theus and Butkus were both elite athletes on Chicago teams and both coached a Deering hoops squad that featured star players with Chicago roots. We mentioned the draft fallout stuff, and now you’ve got Theus’s son as a Cubs draft pick. And the snake eats its tail.
I’d have written more about Davis as a prospect, but that’s best left to the folks here who cover such things. Besides, I already let Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel do the heavy lifting with that block-quote. And in the end, this was more me indulging in my unhealthy knowledge of TNBC shows from the 90’s.