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Friday, May 6, 2016

The best seat in the house

Thursday, April 8, 2004

Sports Editor

While watching the NCAA Men's Final Four this past weekend on TV, I couldn't help but wonder what it would be like to take in an event of that proportion in person.

Seats to the Final Four are hard to come by, and those that are available are definitely not cheap, even those in the nose-bleed section.

But just image what one would pay for a seat in the ultimate spot -- on one of the competing team's benches.

That's exactly where former Melbourne Bearkat Patrick Davidson was as Duke squared off with the University of Connecticut in the second of the two national semi-finals played April 3 in San Antonio.

Not only did Davidson have the ultimate seat, he was also part of the event itself as a member of the Duke Blue Devils' basketball team.

Unfortunately for Davidson and Blue Devil fans, Duke's 14th trip to the Final Four ended with a loss in the national semi-finals to UCONN 79-78. The Huskies held Duke to just one hoop in the last 4:40 of the game, while they went on a 10-2 run late to earn a berth in the championship game against Georgia Tech.

No matter, it's still quite an amazing accomplishment for a young man from Izard County to take part in a run toward a title as part of March Madness.

After a stellar career at Melbourne, where he took part in the Class AA Final Four with the Bearkatz, the All-State Davidson signed to play college hoops at Lehigh, which incidentally, made the NCAA's big dance for the first time in quite awhile this year.

A coaching change at Lehigh led Davidson to Blair Academy in New Jersey where he played last year.

Part of that Blair Academy team included Loul Deng and Charlie Villannueva, both prep All-Americans.

Deng ended up at Duke, where Davidson was asked to attend as an invited walk-on. Not only is he a talented hoopster, Davidson is also a gifted student.

Villannueva, after committing to Illinois, found his way to Connecticut to play for the Huskies.

So you could say it was an All-Blair Final Four, although I'm sure Duke and Davidson's fans would have preferred to see the two from Tobacco Road playing in the title game instead of Villannueva.

Still, like they say, just getting there is half the fun.

Davidson's mother and father, Sue Ellen and Pat, along with current Bearkatz' hoopster brothers Jordan and Nick, made the trip to Texas to see all the Final Four festivities and spend some time with Patrick.

Just making his way into 10 games for Duke this year was an outstanding accomplishment for Davidson on a team chock full of High School and College All-Americans, as well as sure-fire NBA players.

I'm not sure exactly how many players from the Tri-County area have made it not only to the NCAA Final Four, but onto the roster of a high-powered program like Duke's, but I bet you could probably count them on one finger.

That just goes to show that with a lot of talent and an equal amount of hard work and dedication, the step from the 2AA-North in Arkansas to the Atlantic Coast Conference and beyond may not be that big after all.

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