Davenport North grad Marquez Davis, a former St. Ambrose standout, poses for a photo in Davenport on Wednesday. Davis has joined a professional minor league basketball team in Corpus Christi, Texas. (Jeff Cook/QUAD-CITY TIMES)

Jeff Cook

His basketball journey has included stops at Central and North high schools in Davenport and most recently at St. Ambrose University, but Marquez Davis isn’t ready to call it a career.

Davis begins a new chapter early next month when he leaves for Texas and the start of training camp with the Corpus Christi Crunch, a member of the new American Basketball League.

“Coming off of the special season we had at Ambrose last year, getting to the (NAIA) national tournament and all, I took a month off after the end of the season, but I couldn’t see myself letting it end there,” Davis said. “When you play a game for a long time, it becomes a part of you. I had to see if something else was out there for me.”

That led Davis to a Florida tryout camp for the new professional league, a 12-team minor-league circuit which will split its teams between Texas and Florida cities.

The 5-foot-10 guard competed well at the tryout event, earning an invitation to a pre-draft camp in Fort Lauderdale. That eventually led to Davis’ selection in the fourth round of the league’s draft in early November.

Marcus Brister, who began his collegiate career at Iowa State, was the Corpus Christi team’s first-round draft pick. The vast majority of the players selected are products of NCAA Division-I programs.

“Coming out of a small school, I didn’t really know what would happen, but I went to the camps and found out that I could compete with guys at that level,” Davis said. “I took it seriously, pushed myself and I think that gave me a chance.”

Davis continues to train in Davenport as he works toward the start of preseason camp.

“I feel like I can still play at a high level and my body tells me I can do that, too. Right now, I’m pushing to get myself better every single day,” Davis said. “I don’t have any idea where the future will lead me, but I know I’m blessed to have this opportunity.”

St. Ambrose coach Ray Shovlain isn’t surprised that Davis performed well at the tryout camps.

“Marquez is a pretty talented player, and he really matured a great deal as a person and as a player during his time here,” Shovlain said. “He’s an example that if you work hard enough and persevere, good things can happen.”

Former San Antonio Spurs guard Johnny Moore was hired last week as the Corpus Christi head coach. Camp opens in early January, and the season begins Jan. 20 and runs through April.

Unlike most minor-league basketball set-ups in the United States, the ABL will play its games under international rules, something designed to assist players in earning opportunities to compete professionally around the globe.

“I really like that aspect of it,” Davis said. “There are so many subtleties to the international rules, and it should be a lot easier of a transition to go from this league to a foreign league if that opportunity presents itself.”

An opportunity is all that Davis seeks.

After transferring to St. Ambrose from NCAA Division-II Lincoln University last season, Davis averaged 9.3 points and 4.0 rebounds per game for a 25-9 team which won the Midwest Collegiate Conference regular-season and tournament titles and reached the NAIA Division-II national tourney.

“That was the first time in a long time that I had been a part of a winning team, and all of a sudden, basketball became fun again for me,” Davis said. “Coach Ray (Shovlain) and the assistants at Ambrose helped me have a great experience in basketball. I want that experience to continue.”

Shovlain expects the ABL opportunity to present Davis with a myriad of potential career possibilities beyond whatever transpires on the court.

“We’ve had a handful of guys go on an play professionally after their careers here, and the thing I like is that the experience can open a lot of doors for those guys,” Shovlain said. “Nobody can play forever, but there are coaching opportunities and chances to work with sports franchises.”