Just over a month ago, Davion Berry wasn’t sure where his professional basketball career was headed.

He was leaving Italy after playing there this winter, but he wasn’t certain what the next stop might be.

Sometimes lives change and fortunes get reversed in the minor leagues.

Berry found himself in Portland, Maine. He was brought in as a backup guard on one of the NBA D-League’s top teams.

“Two months ago I was in Italy,” Berry says. “I didn’t know what was going to happen with my career. Now I’m a point guard for the Maine Red Claws, we’re the No. 1 seed and we’re playing a game Tuesday. It’s a blessing.”

Berry’s season changed in a hurry last month. The day after he left Italy, he was signed by the Red Claws. He was brought in as a backup, but that role quickly evolved into a starting job.


“We told him that he’d be backing up Tim (Frazier) and that his minutes would probably be limited,” Red Claws coach Scott Morrison said. “But there was a strong chance that Tim would be called up based on what he’d done this year. Sure enough, it happened. Credit for him for staying patient and waiting for the opportunity to make the most of it when it came.”

Berry has been a quick study and has tried fitting in quickly on a team gearing up for the postseason. Maine opens the playoffs Tuesday at Fort Wayne in an Eastern Conference semifinal.  Berry played the last 15 games with the Red Claws and scored double figures in his last four outings.

“I just had to stay ready,” Berry said. “It wasn’t something I wasn’t used to. I looked at it as a real blessing that I was getting the opportunity as the point guard of the team and make this playoff run.”

Though he’d been given warning that Frazier might be lost if the Portland Trail Blazers called him up, it came suddenly and his minutes and role ballooned in a hurry.

“I didn’t see it coming,” Berry said. “I thought I was going to be the backup point guard for the remainder of the year. I talked to the coaches on the staff and they said I was going to get more minutes. I found out, but it was a blessing for me to get this opportunity.”

He’s been gradually getting adjusted and finding a comfort level with the team. He’s also been gaining confidence with his play.


“The more and more comfortable I felt, the more I can do on the court,” Berry said. “I just credit my teammates. They stayed in my ear. Everybody’s been great.”

Berry, a 6-foot-4 guard, grew up on Oakland, Calif. He want to Cal State Monterey Bay for two years and finished his collegiate career at Weber State. He went undrafted and played for the Trail Blazers’ summer league team last year. He signed to play in Torino, Italy. He played 17 games there but was replaced on the roster. He left Italy, seeking new opportunities.

“Credit to the Celtics scouts. They kept an eye on the guys going back and forth all season,” Morrison said. “We knew there was a strong possibility that Tim Frazier would get called up before the end of the year. If that was to happen, we were going to need someone to come in at the point-guard position. The guys felt Davion could do that and they grabbed him when he came back from overseas.”

Frazier played in 41 games before signing with Portland. He averaged 16 points, 9.5 assists and 7 rebounds. He was a sizable loss for the Red Claws and significant shoes to fill.

Joining the team in early March allowed Berry to get adjusted over the last month of the season. Frazier was there for some of that time to help ease him into the role.

“He was able to get real comfortable with the team when Tim was still here and he helped us during that stretch as well,” Morrison said. “ That allowed him to step up when Tim was called up to Portland.


“He’s done a great job so far. Davion has definitely been a good defender for us. He’s been a solid defender on some tough matchups. He hasn’t turned the ball over, which is key for a point guard. In some of the close games we’ve won lately, he hit some big baskets during that stretch. When teams tried to stay on our shooters, he took the ball to the rim.”

Though he’s stepped into a high profile role on a team with championship aspirations, he’s not looking at the pressure of the situation but seeing opportunity.

“I look at it like I’m just going to play my game,” Berry said. “I have to go out there and play hard. I don’t see it as pressure at all. As long as everyone plays together as a team, good things will happen.”

If good things do happen, then attention and more opportunities may follow. That’s his focus at this moment. He’s working for a job and a future in the pro game. He’s not worrying about the details, but he knows he can impact that future with a strong performance now.

“I’m not going to come in and put too much weight on that and think about that too much,” Berry said. “Right now, I’m focused on winning. Whatever happens, happens. I know at the end of the day, if we win, things will take care of itself. I’m not a guy that worries about what everyone else is thinking.”


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