Rising Star: Kentucky’s Anthony Davis
By: Mark Chalifoux
Hardcore basketball fans have been talking about him all year and at the end of the NCAA tournament, even the most casual of fans will know who Anthony Davis is. If you’ve lived under a rock this season (not judging, the economy is rough) Davis is the 6-foot-10 inch freshman big man for the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed, the Kentucky Wildcats.
You would expect the best player on the best team in the country to carry most of the load on both ends of the court, but Davis plays on a team with so much talent he doesn’t have to. Six Wildcats average 9 or more points and although Davis leads the pack at 14.3 per game, he’s not always the first look on the offensive end. What makes Davis special, and what makes him the Player of the Year in the eyes of many, is everything else he does.
That starts with his defensive presence. He’s not a physical monster like Dwight Howard but his length makes him a dominant defender. He averages 4.7 blocks per game and has more blocks individually than most teams have this season. He also averages 10 rebounds per game and does a good job disrupting the flow of the opposition’s offense.
What helps Davis stand out from almost any big man in recent college basketball history is his versatility. He’s big but he’s not a lumbering, forceful center. Thanks to a late growth spurt, he played part of his high school career in Chicago as a guard and his passing and handle reflect that. He also has a fairly reliable jump shot and ESPN analyst Jay Bilas has frequently said Davis has the best hands he’s seen in a long time. Davis has earned praise as a hard worker and a humble player, probably thanks in part to his unibrow.
He’s a fun player to watch because he can have a big effect on the action without taking every shot. And he can be dominant all-around at times, like when he put up 22 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks in a 74-59 win over Florida in the final game of the regular season.
Davis is likely to be the first-round pick in the NBA draft but before that, he’s primed for a magical March and should lead Kentucky to the final four (and beyond).
Anthony Davis’ game-winning block for UNC:
Anthony Davis’ block and dunk:
Mark Chalifoux is a contributing writer to CBS Local Digital Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and @markchalifoux on twitter.