MERRILLVILLE | The dream started 16 years ago. It occurred at Grandma Jan's house. While watching her 2-year-old grandson, she would hang an empty box on the back of a chair, forming a rigged basketball hoop.
Little Nick Davidson bounced his tiny orange ball like any toddler would. Then Grandma Jan would speak.
“You can't eat until you make a basket.”
Davidson recalled his close-knit family beginning on Wednesday at Andrean High School, where the senior point guard signed his NCAA National Letter of Intent to play basketball at Valparaiso University.
The 6-foot-4 standout is the first full-time Lake County player to sign at VU since Roosevelt's Monte Gordon in the 1990s. Staying close to home and playing for Bryce Drew was a big part of the Munster resident's decision.
He had 11 family members at the event, all smiling and proud.
“Valpo has a small family environment, just like here at Andrean,” Davidson said. “I like that. I want my family to be able to see me play. It will be nice to be close to home for the holidays.”
Andrean coach Carson Cunningham brought doughnuts and decaf coffee to the event. As Davidson walked to the table of goodies he laughed, “I don't want any doughnuts.”
Cunningham's roots are almost in line with Coach Drew's. The two grew up in Porter County and started playing against each other in middle school. While playing at Purdue, Cunningham watched Drew's career develop and remembers “The Shot” that gave the Crusaders' coach a national name in 1998.
“Bryce is a great coach and a great human being,” Cunningham said. “It's an exciting day for Andrean, Nick and Valpo. It's great that the face of our program is going to a local school, it's just awesome. I hope he can do the same things there that he's done here.”
Davidson committed to VU his sophomore year. Western Michigan was the other program who offered him, but Indiana, Iowa, Purdue and Florida State were recruiting him his freshman year.
But the family connection to Valpo sealed the deal.
“My favorite movie is Hoosiers,” Davidson said. “I can recite every line in that movie. I remember seeing highlights of Bryce's shot when I was a kid watching the NCAA Tournament.”
And, of course, he remembers shooting balls into a box hanging on a chair, too. That's where this day all began.