Nathan Davis returned to Bucknell in April 2015 to become the 21st head coach of the Bison men’s basketball program, and his impact on the program has been immediate. The Bison have captured Patriot League regular-season titles in each of his first two seasons as head coach, and in 2017 they returned to the NCAA Tournament after winning the PL Tournament title.
Davis was a familiar face to Bucknell fans when he returned to Lewisburg, as he spent five years (2003-08) as the top assistant coach under Pat Flannery and was on the bench for the team’s historic NCAA Tournament victories in 2005 and 2006. In 2005, 14th-seeded Bucknell upset No. 3 Kansas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, marking the first NCAA win in school and Patriot League history. A year later, the Bison achieved the first top-25 national ranking in program history, went back to the NCAA Tournament as a No. 9 seed, and then defeated Arkansas in the first round.
In his very first season as head coach in 2015-16, he guided the team to a 14-4 Patriot League record (17-14 overall). The Bison had to win their final four games of the regular season to hold off Lehigh by one game for the regular-season title.
Davis was named Patriot League Coach of the Year and was picked as a finalist for the Joe B. Hall Award, presented to the nation’s top first-year coach. His 17 wins were the most ever for a Bucknell coach in his initial season, and he led the team to its third National Invitation Tournament (NIT) appearance.
In year two, Davis repeated as Patriot League Coach of the Year after leading the Bison to yet another regular-season title, the team's sixth in the last seven years. This time the team added the Patriot League Tournament title as well, using a big second half to run away from Lehigh 81-65 in front of a standing-room-only crowd at Sojka Pavilion. The Bison made their seventh NCAA Tournament appearance, dropping a hard-fought 86-80 decision to West Virginia.
Davis became the fourth coach to win Patriot League Coach of the Year honors in back-to-back seasons, joining Bucknell's Dave Paulsen (2011, 2012), Lehigh's Billy Taylor (2003, 2004) and Lafayette's Fran O'Hanlon (1998, 1999).
“I am extremely excited to be coming back to Bucknell,” said Davis at the time of his hiring. “Having worked there for five years, I know what a special place Bucknell is. It is an ideal place to coach, because you have student-athletes who are committed to excellence on and off the court. I have remained a huge fan of the Bison and followed the team closely, and I hope to continue to build on the success that Dave Paulsen and his staff have achieved over the last seven years.”
“I am excited to welcome Nathan and his family back to Bucknell,” said director of athletics and recreation Hardt. “The Bison men’s basketball program achieved unprecedented success during his tenure as assistant coach, and he is intimately familiar with what it takes for our student-athletes to succeed both in the classroom and on the court. Nathan has the experience and ability to build on the program's established foundation of success and lead our program to new heights.”
After departing Bucknell in 2008, Davis spent one year as an assistant coach at Colgate before being named the head coach at his alma mater, Randolph-Macon. Davis achieved incredible success in his six seasons with the Yellow Jackets, posting a 141-39 (.783) record with three Old Dominion Athletic Conference championships, six NCAA Tournament berths, and a Division III Final Four appearance in 2009-10.
In his final season at RMC, Davis’ squad was ranked No. 1 in the country for three weeks during the season, went undefeated in league play and 28-3 overall, and advanced to the Elite Eight. The 28 victories tied the school record, and its 25-game winning streak set a program mark.
Following the 2014-15 campaign, Davis was selected as the ODAC Coach of the Year and the NABC South Region Coach of the Year, and he was a finalist for the Glenn Robinson National Coach of the Year Award. It was his second straight ODAC Coach of the Year honor.
Prior to his arrival at Bucknell, Davis was an assistant coach under Don DeVoe at Navy from 1998-2003. Thanks in large part to his recruiting efforts, the Midshipmen made Patriot League championship game appearances in 2000 and 2001, and the team went 80-65 in his five seasons in Annapolis.
A 1997 graduate of Randolph-Macon, Davis was a four-year letterman and two-year captain of the Yellow Jackets’ men’s basketball team. He was a two-time All-ODAC selection who finished his career with 983 points, and he was one of only five players in school history to record at least 500 rebounds, 300 assists and 100 steals.
Davis and his wife Miki have four children: 11-year-old son Kieran, nine-year-old daughter Hayden, and five-year-old twins Kellen and Ryan.