Opinion: Keep a watch on UK's Anthony Davis, who could end up with Hornets

Opinion: Keep a watch on UK's Anthony Davis, who could end up with Hornets

Credit: Getty Images

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 25: Pierre Jackson #55 of the Baylor Bears has his shot blocked by Anthony Davis #23 of the Kentucky Wildcats during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball South Regional Final at the Georgia Dome on March 25, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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wwltv.com

Posted on March 29, 2012 at 6:05 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 30 at 11:02 AM

Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
Email: bhandwerger@wwltv.com | Twitter: @wwltvsports

Opinion/Analysis

NEW ORLEANS — Anthony Davis doesn’t cut an imposing figure.

He’s not going to wow you with a barrel chest or weapons for biceps.

But that’s misleading.

The Kentucky freshman may not look NBA ready but in June, when The League goes through its annual college draft, Davis is widely regarded as the man to beat for the top pick.

For Hornets fans, that could be where your team lands.

In other words, New Orleanians – for the second time in a month, by the way, thanks to the SEC tournament – are getting an early look at the man who could be tasked with being the building block for what the Hornets hope to be a bright future.

And listening to Wildcats coach John Calipari on Thursday during his first Final Four news conference, Davis could be just the right guy.

“When he was named Player of the Year, he thanked his team,” Calipari said. “He said, ‘Guys, they just named me Player of the Year. I want to thank you because this never happens if not for all of you.’

“Can you imagine?”

Davis wasn’t always the force that he is now, the game-changer who forced opposing coaches and players to alter their game-plans.

Prior to his senior year in high school, he was a 6-foot-3 guard, one who constantly found his shots getting blocked every time he tried to go through the lane.

But he sprouted.

A lot.

To 6-10 and, now late in his freshman year, 220 pounds.

Now, instead of having his shots blocked, he’s blocking shots. In fact, more than any other freshman in Kentucky and SEC history and nearly more than any freshman in NCAA history.

Davis’ 175 blocks were nearly 100 more than Andre Riddick or Melvin Turpin, who previously owned the Kentucky freshman record for blocked shots and 60 more than Shaquille O’Neal’s SEC record.

But that’s not actually the most impressive thing about Davis’ game, one that Hornets fans should surely take to watching on Saturday when Kentucky plays Louisville in the first game of the Final Four.

Despite being a freshman, one who opponents constantly go after, he doesn’t get in foul trouble. He has fouled out only twice this season and accumulated at least four fouls only five times. He averages only two fouls per game.

“It impacts the game very much,” Davis said of his penchant to block shots. “Guys really don’t drive the lane anymore and if they do, they’ve got to try to shoot over me.”

He added, “Even if I just put my hands up, a guy on the weakside on my team comes and blocks the shot, rebounds it, whatever the case may be. It really impacts the game.”

Davis does more than block shots, though.

He ranks 18th in the NCAA with 10.1 rebounds per game, is third in field-goal percentage at 63.6 percent and his 19 double-doubles are ninth-most in the country.

“You have a guard-skilled, nimble player in a big man’s body,” Calipari said of Davis.

If none of that means anything to you, maybe this will.

Calipari compared Davis to former Massachusetts standout and 16-year-professional Marcus Camby.

“I would tell you that they are different,” Calipari said. “They are unique. Both of those guys I had were unselfish, were great teammates, deferred to their teammates and I’ve been blessed and fortunate that I’ve those two kinds of guys.”

So yes, pay attention to Kentucky and pay attention to Davis.

You’ll get used to his lanky frame.

Trust me.

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