Freeport, Illinois – We always say, there’s so much in Freeport people don’t even know about and one of those items is Deacon Davis Courts. Very nice basketball courts located on S. Liberty & Jackson, which just so happened to have a couple locals enjoying the court during a random stop one day about a month ago.
Not only are the basketball courts some of the nicest outdoor courts in the city, the man behind the name is a little Freeport gem himself.
For those who don’t know, Deacon Davis (McKinley “Deacon” Davis) was born in Freeport Illinois. He graduated from Freeport Senior High School where he was a player on the 1951 State Championship basketball team. In that same year, he was recognized as a member of the All-State Basketball team.
A two-time All-Stater, he led Freeport to the state quarterfinals in 1950 and the 1951 state championship. The 6-2 center scored 24 points in a 71-51 victory over Moline in the state final. At Iowa, he earned All-Big 10 and All-America recognition.
From there, Deacon went to the University of Iowa where he graduated in 1955. While at Iowa, he was named to the 2nd Team All-American and 1st Team in the All Big Ten Conference.
From 1955 to 1957, Deacon was a member of the Harlem Globetrotters. In those years, he traveled around the country with the team, studying the condition of American high schools in his down time. It was in these years, while continuing his education that his vision developed for what would one day become the CHANCE program.
In 1968, NIU President Rhoten Smith hired Deacon as the Director of Special Programs and founder of the CHANCE program. Deacon stayed in that role until 1978 when he became the Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at NIU.
From 1983 until his death in 2003, Deacon worked at Primerica Financial Services/Travelers Group as a National Sales Director for the firm.
In January 2004, NIU President John Peters re-dedicated the CHANCE program as “The McKinley ‘Deacon’ Davis CHANCE Program.”
The groundbreaking for the Deacon Davis Basketball Courts was on October 26, 2005. It appears to have at one time been listed as a Freeport Park District property, however in this Freedom of Information document found on the Park District’s website from April 4, 2014 it says (On Lease from NICOR Gas)
To see our article on the Freeport history of the Rockefeller family, visit this link here.