By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It takes a lot of hard work and focus to have a career as a Division I college basketball player.

It also takes a lot of hard work and focus to study biology in preparation of going to medical school.

So you would figure it would be exceptionally difficult to walk both these paths at the same time, but that is just what La Salle University junior guard Hank Davis is doing.

Davis, the 2014-15 Big 5 Scholar-Athlete of the Year, is a Cherry Hill East High School product who walked on to the basketball team at La Salle in 2013 as a freshman and has been a member of the squad ever since. This as he majors in biology on a pre-med track with hopes right now of one day becoming a surgeon.

“I was always interested in science,” Davis tells KYW Newsradio. “I excelled in that a little bit more than the other topics.”

Listen to the entire interview with La Salle’s Hank Davis:


The combination of playing college basketball while taking an academic load that prepares one to go to medical school is incredibly impressive. Throw in being a published author, and you get a feel for just how rare a student-athlete Davis is. He recently had an article published in the journal Adolescent Health and Wellness titled, “Student Athletes: Keeping the Balance.”

“One of the biggest struggles for student-athletes is how do they balance and succeed on both the court and in the classroom,” Davis says. “So everyone always says, ‘Don’t procrastinate,’ all the same stuff, but I want to kind of break it into a science almost. I came up with five different key points and hopefully people who are struggling, student-athletes, can learn to balance both of those things.”

As if all this wasn’t enough, Davis says he is also working with one of his professors on a side project studying the effects of alcohol on the brain.

So given all that Davis has on his plate from an academic standpoint, why did he also decide to pursue a college basketball career? He says the answer is simple.
“It’s hard to take somebody away from playing a sport they have a lot of passion for or they grew up playing,” Davis says.

At La Salle, Davis plays for a coach in Dr. John Giannini who has his own impressive resume of scholarly achievements. Giannini earned a Ph.D. in kinesiology from Illinois and he wrote a book titled Court Sense: Winning Basketball’s Mental Game, which was published in 2008.

“He’s a really smart guy,” Davis says. “We have a lot of really interesting conversations about basketball and not about basketball.”

And Davis truly enjoys playing for Giannini.

“One of the really special things about Coach G,” Davis says, “is that he is really invested in everyone’s, I want to say, like, their whole life. On the court, yes, but he’s doing as much as he can to help everyone in every way possible, and I think that’s what everybody loves about Coach G. He was real proud of me (about being published), and he brought it up to the team and everything after practice. Coach G is just as much interested in everyone’s academics as he is with basketball.”

The Hank Davis story is an impressive one and it is still being written. But for him, it’s really just life.

“Growing up, I’ve learned a lot,” Davis says. “You need to work hard to achieve things or you’re not always going to get what you want in certain situations. So I think, the way I grew up and the mentality that I brought is that, yes, it’s going to be hard, but it’s supposed to be hard. That’s why it’s worth doing.”