Terence Davis Jr. has definitely not been making banana bread during isolation. Before the NBA went on pandemic-prompted hiatus, the Toronto Raptors guard was one of the league’s biggest rookie stories, eking out a spot in the reigning champs’ rotation thanks to his explosive offense. In February, he led all rookies in scoring, topping the likes of Ja Morant and Zion Williamson. For a guy who went undrafted, he’s been nothing short of unbelievable. So what’s his quarantine hobby been? Training harder to defy even more odds once the 2019-20 season resumes.
In the debut episode of Complex Canada's "Check the Technique," Davis teaches you how to master some of the skills he’s been refining at home in Southaven, Mississippi—namely, the in-and-out dribble, the crossover, and the step-back jumper. Expect him to bust these moves out when the Raptors look to repeat in the playoffs. Peep the episode above, then read our chat with him below, where he talks about his goals for the rest of the season, his incredible come-up, his quarantine playlist, and more.
How’s isolation been treating you?
I mean, I guess you could say there's been pros and cons on the situation. Pros: I get to hang out with family longer. It’s been good to enjoy yourself and think, because everything happens so fast. For me, man, my son is about to turn one. I've had the chance to just sit down and think and just realize, you know, our great God has blessed me with the opportunities that I have.
Congrats on your son turning one!
He was born six days before the draft. The day he was born, that morning I was in L.A. and I got a call at like 4 a.m. His mom was going into labour. I hopped on the first flight out. I didn't even work out for the Clippers. [Laughs.]
It’s been a crazy time lately with George Floyd's death and the Black Lives Matter protests. What are your thoughts on that?
Well, I mean, being that I'm from Mississippi—I was born here—I've been around racism all my life, man. It's gotten to a point where sometimes, like, I'd be numb to some situations. But everyone has had enough. You know, you see so many different things going on that involve black people. And it's like, when is it enough? When will things change? I think with all the protests and things going on, I think that things are starting to [shift.] People are starting to hear our voices. Certain statues and monuments are coming down. It's a step in the right direction. I think the protests will work.
We talked to Kia Nurse not too long ago, and asked her how she felt about it, too. She talked about athletes using their platform and their voice. Do you think it’s important as an athlete to use your platform and your voice for social justice causes like this?
No doubt, man. It took me a while to say something because, like, I'm the type to observe and then speak on what I see. But I didn't want to speak on nothing that didn't involve me. I spoke on Mississippi and the school I went to, Ole Miss, having a confederate statue on the campus. Like, 62 years ago a black guy wanted to attend the university, and they told him he was insane. That was just 62 years ago! I just attended a school. So, certain things, you just see it. Certain things have to change. It's time.
It's been a hard time for everybody just being at home during quarantine—and, with the protests, it really puts everything into perspective in terms of how much work everybody really has left to do. But on a more positive note, what have you been doing at home? Have you developed any new skills other than playing ball?
Pretty must just focused on ball, man. You know, just, how can I take advantage of this opportunity that's in front of me? This is my first year, I'm a rookie, and I'm playing with, you know, the defending champions. I wouldn't say I have a lot of pressure on me, but I'm blessed, man. So, I’m just really trying to see how to maximize the opportunity. You know, whether it's just watching film or just doing little things around the house, man. I do push-ups and sit-ups to try to keep my body right. But I’m just trying to maximize the opportunity because, you know, these opportunities don't come too often.
"I wanna be competitive, man. I wanna help these guys go back-to-back, so I can get me my first ring."
A lot of people talk about quarantine fatigue—just getting tired from being at home. What are you doing to keep yourself sharp? How do you start your mornings?
I definitely drink shakes. I'll drink chocolate milk after a workout. Or I'll have a smoothie and I'll put some milk in it. I'll go to the gym. You know, here it's not really as a strict as Toronto [when it comes to] going outside. My parents are ministers, so I look at everything that's going on differently. It's deeper than what a lot of people think, man. My parents, you know, we were talking last night until probably about 12. Just talking about everything that's going on and how God is working with them, and moving them in different ways and having them pray a lot. They're his warriors. I look at it from a different level, and some people won't understand that because they’re raised differently.
Do you feel your spirituality has helped you get to where you are right now as a ballplayer?
No doubt, no doubt. I've kept my faith. I was just on a call last night. I was talking to my friend Jeremiah. He lives in South Asia and his parents [told him] to give up on baseball. I told him, “Man, just keep the faith.” That's what I did. I didn't even get invited to the G-League Elite Camp. Someone got injured, and that's when I got the call the night before to report [to it]. I had graduated the night before and I flew to Chicago the next day. Man, I was just blessed. Last year was the first time they ever did the camp, and I don’t even think they’re doing it this year. Where did the camp come from? I said it had to be God. I promise you, at that G-League Elite camp, I didn't have my name on the back of my jersey, but I was the best player there. And I don't even talk like this—other people was telling me. I was the best player there, man, and I wasn't even invited. So I would just say keep your faith, man, because, like it says in the bible, it's small as a mustard seed. That's all you need. As long as you have faith in God, you'll go a long way.
That's so cool. The NBA season is looking to restart this summer. How do you feel about that?
I'm excited, man. I get to finish my rookie year. So, you know, you wanna finish something you started. I'm gonna get the chance to play in the playoffs. That's like a dream, man. As a young guy growing up, you watch the playoffs and watching these games—these guys making these big-time shots and big-time plays defensively. As a basketball player, this is what you dream of. I'm ready.
What are your thoughts on the rest of the games happening at Disney World?
I think it's pretty cool because I've never been to Disney World! I don't know how they're going to do it with everyone there, but I guess everyone's not originally gonna be in Orlando. But, you know, I think it'll be cool, though.
What are your personal goals for the rest of the season?
Oh man. For the rest of season? I'm thinking playoffs already! But honestly, man, I just wanna gain the trust my teammates. When the game is on the line, you know, I just wanna really compete. I wanna be competitive, man. I wanna help these guys go back-to-back, so I can get me my first ring. That would be ideal. I know a lot of the guys, if not all the guys, really think they can repeat.
Do you think that you guys can repeat?
No doubt. Like, why can't we? That's the goal! I mean, you always want to be on top. You want to be your best. That's what it is.
When the NBA returns, what's going to be the first tunnel fit you’ll rock?
I'm coolin' it, man. Look, yo, I dress up. I dress nice. I be putting on clothes. I don't take pictures, though. I probably have pictures in my phone but I don't post pictures like all dressed up and fresh. I don't know why. I'll be nice, though, but I just don't get into all that. I'm about the game, man. But I'll probably have on like a Nike tech fleece jumpsuit. Maybe some jeans and some 1s.
Which teammates have you been keeping in touch with the most during isolation?
Well, you know, we've all been having Zoom calls. But Dewan [Hernandez], I was hanging out with him in Miami for a while. We were working out. You know, just putting that time in. I talk to Freddy here and there. I talk to Norm. You know, obviously Serge.
Tell us what you've been watching and listening to during this time.
Oh, I've been watching some TV. I've been watching The Blacklist but I've been off it for a little bit. In my playlist, I've got some up-and-coming hometown guys. They're from Memphis. You would definitely not know them! Pooh Shiesty and Big30, they're signed with Moneybagg Yo, who's under Yo Gotti's label [Collective Music Group.] That's what I've been listening to. I've also been listening to Gunna's Wunna. I’ve been listening to Polo G, Lil Dirk. I got some guys in there. K CAMP, you gotta have that on your playlist. [Starts singing.] "She like my energyyy…"
What about Toronto artists?
Oh, Toronto? Tory. Drake, for sure. Drake, c'mon now. People already know Drake is on my playlist. He's automatic. There's a few rappers that will automatically be there. He's one of them. Young Thug is gonna be one of them. Lil Baby is gonna be one of them. But Drake is obvious. If someone asks me, “Do you have Drake on your playlist?” I’ll look at them like, 'C’mon now.'