Special to the E-T

URUGUAYóFormer Tarleton standout John Davis has signed to play basketball for Club Deportivo Sayago in the Uruguayan Basketball Federation (UBF) in Uruguay, South America.

Davis, who played two seasons at Tarleton, is the 17th former player to sign a professional contract in the past eight seasons.

"It was a great feeling to sign my first professional contract because I knew that Iím about to start my career and long journey to get where I want to be," Davis said. "My ultimate goal, just like it was at Tarleton, is to win a championship."

The UBF is a basketball league consisting of 14 professional teams. Uruguay is a city of about 3.5 million people, and the Texan coaching staff is excited about Davisí new endeavor.

"We are really excited about this opportunity for John Davis to continue his basketball career with Sayago," said Tarleton associate head coach Chris Reisman. "John truly loved playing basketball for Tarleton State University and represented that through his passion, emotion and performance on the court. John matured a lot as a player and person over the last two years, and we wish him the best as he continues to pursue his personal goals both on and off the floor."

Davis helped lead a team to a Division II South Central Regional championship in 2006 and was the top scorer on the squad both as a junior and senior. The Columbus, Ohio native led the Texans in scoring 15 times in 2006-07 and in rebounding 25 times in 28 games. He recorded 18 double-doubles this season, including a stretch of 10 straight. Davis scored in double figures in 27 games and scored over 30 points three times, including a career-high 34 at Angelo State on Jan. 31. The former Texan had a career-high 17 rebounds versus regionally-ranked St. Augustineís on Dec. 16.

Davis was a First Team All-Lone Star Conference South Division honoree for the second straight season as well and was fourth in the nation in rebounding per game. He lead the Texans in both scoring and rebounding, averaging 19.8 points and 10.8 rebounds per outing. He was ranked in four categories in the national statistics: field goal percentage (.537), rebounds, points and blocks per game (1.3).

The former Texan said playing in the program engineered by Lonn Reisman has helped change his basketball mentality.

"Coach Reisman stresses defense," Davis said. "My thought now is that defense creates offense, thatís how I tend to think when I play, and that is how I am going to play professionally.

After playing two seasons for a team that is a consistent national powerhouse, Davis could have a number of chances to choose a favorite memory. However, he said all the moments are his favorites.

"I donít just have one moment," Davis said. "It would be unfair to say I had one, there were many, like the time we came back and beat West Texas my junior year and all the fans rushed the floor; when we beat Commerce in the first round of the conference tournament my junior year; and when we won two times in a row at the buzzer in the NCAA tournament! The list goes on and on, every moment was my all-time favorite."

Davis believes the pressure of playing for the purple and white will be a positive when he plays professionally.

"I played at Tarleton when we were ranked as high as No. 1 in the nation, and one thing remained the same during my two years, we always had a target on our backs," Davis said. "We were always the team to beat. Teams hate playing you, and they certainly hate playing against you in the great Wisdom Gym. My advice to the next generation of Texans is to play hard all the time, and it will take you far."

Davis said his love for Tarleton will never end, and that he will always have purple running through his veins.

"Tarleton is like a second home to me, and I will miss it," Davis said.

LaShon Sheffield was the last Texan to sign to play professional basketball. He played this past season in Ireland for the UCC Demons where he averaged 24 points per game.