Wayne Davis

Year: 1956 - 1959
Position: Forward
Hometown: New York, NY

Wayne was a Forward for the UConn Huskies from 1956 – 1959. He’s a member of the UConn Basketball All Century Ballot, was a member of three straight Yankee Conference Championship teams, and averaged 10.3 rebounds per game in his senior year. I spoke to Wayne by telephone from Wynnewood, Pennsylvania in August 2004, as he shared some University of Connecticut memories, and career positions working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Wayne started playing organized basketball when he was 11 – 12 years old. He was always tall for his age, and growing up in New York City, the kids played a lot of basketball. By the time he was a junior in high school he was 6’ 5” tall, played center position, and was a very good player. He earned the honor of being named to the All Metropolitan Basketball Team which includes players from Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island and Queens. Wayne’s high school teams had winning records, but didn’t win any metro area championships. They played in the high school tournament, but were knocked out in the first round. The tournament was played at Madison Square Garden, and it’s every kids dream to play at MSG because that’s where the pros play.

Wayne received offers from several universities however, being an African American in those days, if you were going to play basketball in the south, it had to be at a predominately black college or you had to play for a university north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Wayne was contacted by UConn Head Coach Hugh Greer who came to see Wayne play a game in high school, but unfortunately Wayne had injured his hand, and wasn’t able to play the day Coach Greer came to New York. Fortunately, the UConn assistant coaches had followed Wayne’s progress, and arranged for Wayne to visit the University of Connecticut. “That was one of the major factors I think, in choosing UConn, visiting the university, the environment and the beauty of Storrs.” Wayne said the coaching staff was very interested in not just having you play sports, but to get a good education, and complete your degree.

When Wayne got to UConn it was a big change from high school. His position changed, he had always played center, but no longer was the tallest guy, and became a forward. The players in college were a lot bigger than in high school. “I had been a high school center. As a center, for the most part you play with your back to the basket. As a forward, you play facing the basket, and I had to learn the ball handling skills and different moves associated with playing the forward position.”

One special victory Wayne remembers was being invited to the Orange Bowl Basketball Tournament in Miami, Florida, and winning the championship. UConn principally played basketball in New England, and always did very well in the Yankee Conference, and winning the Orange Bowl against some pretty stiff competition was memorable. Having always played well in New England, UConn was always invited to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament which was memorable. They were also invited to a Holiday Festival played at MSG. UConn played Seattle, a team that included the famous Elgin Baylor. UConn lost by only two or four points, but Baylor had scored 34 of Seattle’s 64 points. Without Baylor, UConn would have won. While at UConn Wayne was also a high jumper on the track and field team.

Wayne graduated from UConn with a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration. He was a Reserved Officers Training Corp (ROTC) member, but didn’t get called for the military until six months after graduation. During this time Wayne worked in New York, and played for a semi-pro basketball team in CT called the Milford Chiefs. Then he was called to military duty, as a commissioned officer, a second lieutenant in the military. He had excelled in ROTC studies and got a regular army commission as opposed to a reserve commission, and was obligated to serve for a minimum of three years. While in the military he coached his battalion basketball team, and that was the extent of his active basketball career.

After the military Wayne went to work for the FBI. “I served as Special Agent, became a supervisor, and ended up a Special Agent in charge of several different field offices by the time I retired.” He was Special Agent in charge in the state of Indiana for two years. Then he was promoted to a larger office in the state of Michigan for four years. Next he was promoted to the eastern Pennsylvania office which was the fifth largest office in the FBI out of 55 offices. In 1988 after 25 years, Wayne retired from the FBI, and began working for a multinational manufacturer of specialty chemical products, Rohm & Haas headquartered in Philadelphia, PA as Director of Corporate Security for the next ten years, retiring in 1998. Then he was a consultant for Rohm & Haas for a year, but work began interfering with traveling that Wayne and his wife wanted to do, so he completely retired at the end of 1999/beginning of 2000. Now he travels a lot, and enjoys his hobby of photography.

Wayne continues to follow UConn basketball, but not living in CT, he pays attention to their national position. The last time he saw UConn play in person was a year or two ago when UConn played Villanova in PA. “I’ve been proud of all of their accomplishments. The men’s team, the women’s team, and I just think it’s great to see UConn basketball in the big time, and achieving as well as they are.”

Wayne met his wife Lois while at UConn. Lois had graduated from Howard University in Washington DC, and was in graduate school at the University of CT pursuing a master’s degree in Physical Chemistry. She taught mathematics in junior high and high school until they had children. She was a stay at home mom until Wayne was promoted to Special Agent in Charge in Indiana. At that time Lois started law school, and graduated from Wayne State University in Detroit Michigan while Wayne was Special Agent in Charge in Michigan. She became an Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of PA, and retired when Wayne retired.

Wayne and Lois have two daughters. Adrienne, 39, who graduated from Yale University, and Yale Law School, and is a tenured law professor at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Cheryl, 36, graduated from Tufts University in Massachusetts, got her Masters Degree in Education at the University of PA, and is a teacher at a Quaker School in the Philadelphia area.