NIT Basketball: BYU vs. Mercer

BYU's Brandon Davies (0) and other players celebrate after their victory in the NIT second round basketball game between the Brigham Young University Cougars and the Mercer Bears at the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah on Monday, March 25, 2013. BYU won the game, 90-71. SPENSER HEAPS/Daily Herald

Brandon Davies had flights in recent weeks when he simply hoped an exit-row seat would be available.

It was commercial travel, which was actually a downgrade from a fair amount of his college basketball days at BYU — when the Cougars were fortunate enough to travel often by private plane.

Yet the 6-foot-9 Davies would trade the leg room for anything, and hopes all of the airports and baggage claims pays off Thursday night by getting selected among the NBA draft's 60 picks.

"It's kind of surreal, nerve-wracking really," Davies told the Daily Herald on Wednesday afternoon. "I don't know what's going to happen."

What's happened already has been a significant surge from where he appeared to be in late March, when it seemed like Davies had best get his passport ready if he wanted to play ball for money.

But the Cougars finished the season strong, albeit in the NIT, in large part from inspired and efficient play from their senior center.

He played well at a seniors-only all-star game during Final Four weekend in Atlanta, and that got him invited to the Portsmouth Invitational, a tournament for potential pros in Virginia. An MVP performance there landed him in Chicago, among 60 of the top prospects looking to land in the NBA.

Some foreign talent, not to mention some draft-night surprises, may or may not help Davies' cause. He worked out for 13 teams in the past month, including the Utah Jazz (the local club picks No. 46 in the second round along with a couple of first-round choices, Nos. 14 and 21).

Davies said he was proud to show off his outside-shooting skills, which were rarely on display in his final Provo season.

"I feel really confident," Davies said. "I feel like I had some really good job interviews and workouts with different teams."

It was quite the life.

A late workout took him straight from Philadelphia to Los Angeles to visit with the Lakers.

"I racked up some serious sky miles," Davies quipped. "It was a lot of travel, but I just tried to recognize it as a once-in-a-lifetime thing and keep a positive attitude."

His agency would set up workouts with the team, plus the flights and hotels. He would be picked up and dropped off by NBA staffers. More often than not, he would be in and out of town the same day.

"I just had to make sure I got to the airport on time," he said.

There would usually be shooting drills and 3-on-3 to go along with individual interviews, most of which, Davies said, steered away from the infamous end to his sophomore season when he was suspended for a school-related honor code violation.

"Some teams asked, some didn't," Davies said.

Davies said he "shot the ball really well in most places" and various NBA officials, including the Utah Jazz's Walt Perrin, praised the energy level he carried.

Davies said he'll be in Provo watching the draft with friends and family. Well, sort of. He's non-committal about whether he'll actually be in the room where the draft was taking place.

"I just wish it could get laid out there for everyone, at the same time," Davies said.

He's not taking any looks at various websites that dare to predict the draft. For good reason: He wasn't showing up on any a couple of months ago and, really, nothing's changed.

Though, it has.

He put himself in position.

Nothing is assured for second-round draft picks, either, as NBA teams are not obligated to create guaranteed contracts for those 30 selections. So, in a sense, Davies could be better off being a free agent.

But there's something about getting drafted, living the dream, that is hard to ignore.

"A couple of months ago, I wasn't in the picture either," Davies said. "I don't even know if I could come up with the words to explain what it means, if the dream does come true."

∫Worth noting: Tyler Haws, Davies' former teammate, is finding some success away from BYU as well.

The BYU junior has made the initial cut in Colorado Springs, Colo., for a collegiate team getting set to play next month in Russia at the World University Games.

There were 29 players at the start of the camp Monday, and 13 were dismissed by Wednesday afternoon. The team is expected to be sliced again quickly to 12 by head coach Bob McKillop, the Davidson boss who recruited Haws out of high school to the North Carolina campus that is most famous for producing NBA sharpshooter Steph Curry.

There are eight wing players — Haws' position — still in the WUG group, meaning the cuts will probably come from that spot. Though six centers are around, too.