Final Four-bound Barcelona big man chats with Joe Arlauckas
With the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four right around the corner, The Crossover with Joe Arlauckas welcomed one of the players who could have a lasting impact on the event. FC Barcelona center Brandon Davies joined Arlauckas to discuss his childhood in Utah, what he learned from facing adversity in college, the start of his professional career, and the success he found at Zalgiris Kaunas and Barcelona.
Davies came to basketball late. He played multiple sports as a boy and settled on soccer. At first, he was faster than everyone and found success, but when his growth spurt hit, everything changed. He found himself playing goalkeeper, thought it was boring, and decided it was time to move on from soccer.
[07:30] "I didn't really start getting into basketball until you know, like sixth or seventh grade. I played there with, it was called Junior Jazz, but I wasn't very good. I only played a little bit of minutes because I was paying to be on the team," he explained. "Then, as my skills developed, I started growing into my body. I started, you know, figuring things out. It was kind of a Michael Jordan-type story. I was got cut from the seventh-grade team, made the B team. All my best friends were on the A team, so I really put in the work that summer."
And the rest, as they say, is history. Davies starred in high school and settled on nearby Brigham Young University, where he was a teammate of former Panathinaikos Athens guard Jimmer Fredette. Together, they had the team ranked No. 3 in the NCAA when Davies was suspended from the team for breaking a school rule.
[13:40] "That was the hardest part, you know, of my life... You're talking about a kid who, all I knew was basketball and that was, you know, kind of taken away from me for my actions," Davies said. "But the main part for me was just the growing up factor. I knew I was a big part of the team, but my teammates were nothing but encouraging to help me do what I needed to do to get back or to make things right."
Davies more than righted the ship. He decided during his junior year of college that his goal was to play basketball professionally. He played two seasons in the NBA and then spent time in France and Italy before the opportunity came to compete in the EuroLeague with Zalgiris Kaunas under head coach Sarunas Jasikevicius. Together, they helped the club make history by reaching the 2018 Final Four.
[29:06] "It's an unbelievable place to play," Davies said. "The fans there are incredible. It feels like basketball's all they've got and they pour their heart and soul into you, if you're a player. It's an unforgettable experience to be a part of that and especially to be rolling how we were rolling and playing in front of sellout crowds every game. And a lot of our fans were traveling to our road games, so we had support everywhere and it was just nice to see you know when you're in a hostile environment you look up and you see all the green shirts right there with you."
After playing two seasons with Zalgiris, Davies joined Barcelona in the summer of 2019, but not before discussing the matter with Jasikevicius. A year later, they were reunited when Saras arrived as Barcelona's head coach.
[00:36:12] "I have a lot of respect for him. We have a really good relationship on and off the court, I can honestly say. He was a big part of helping me get to this point in my career," Davies said.
[38:00] "He's a winner and yeah, it's not that it's gonna be easy, but you know with his with his basketball mind and everything, if bringing him here is gonna get us that championship, then let's go, let's get it."
And that's where things stand now. Davies helped Barcelona achieve the best record in the EuroLeague Regular Season, and after a tough playoff series against Zenit St Petersburg, they are heading to Cologne for the Final Four. However, Davies said that the five games against Zenit will make Barcelona a better team when the semifinals begin.
[38:45] "Being hit in the mouth like that is something that I think is gonna help us get to where we need to get," Davies explained. "Our coaches, they tried to prepare us for this type of battle, and at the time we weren't ready. We learned a lot about ourselves from that series, individually and as a team."
With a one-hour format of exclusive one-on-one interviews, The Crossover with Joe Arlauckas goes well beyond the playing court with each podcast to delve into the life experiences that have made his guests protagonists and legends of the EuroLeague. The Crossover debuted in 2018 and has featured such current stars as Toko Shengelia, Shane Larkin and Kyle Hines, coaching greats such as Ettore Messina, Pablo Laso and Zeljko Obradovic, and legends like Theo Papaloukas, Nikola Vujcic and Mike Batiste, among others. The first guests in Season 3 were FC Bayern Munich Coach Andrea Trinchieri, Zalgiris Kaunas star Marius Grigonis, Kostas Papanikolaou of Olympiacos Piraeus and CSKA Moscow assistant coach Darryl Middleton, Kevin Pangos of Zenit St Petersburg and Norris Cole of LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne, former champion Sofoklis Schortsanitis and two special episodes with general managers Maurizio Gherardini of Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul, Christos Stavropoulos of AX Armani Exchange Milan and Paulius Motiejunas of Zalgiris.
The Crossover with Joe Arlauckas is available on Youtube, iTunes, Audioboom, Spotify, Deezer, RadioPublic, Google Podcasts, TuneIn, Stitcher, CastBox, iVoox and other platforms.