Tuesday, December 28th, 2010 at 12:00 pm  |  11 responses

Hell of A Life

Anthony Davis has learned that climbing up recruiting lists often comes with increased drama.

Originally published in SLAM 144


by Farmer Jones / @thefarmerjones

He did not ask for the drama. He didn’t ask for the accusations and allegations. Most importantly, Anthony Davis says, he and his family did not ask for the money.

Sad but true: Right now, a casual college basketball fan is more likely to know Davis’ name because of a single, unfounded claim about his recruitment in a Chicago newspaper than because of his game. And this is no average prep baller we’re talking about, but a 6-10, 200-pounder considered the top power forward in the Class of ’11. The aforementioned story ran in August, about a week before Davis made his college choice official; the future Kentucky Wildcat could do nothing more than try to ignore the claims and enjoy his moment. It couldn’t have been easy.

“As a rookie to the recruiting game, it just kind of shocked us that someone would do that,” Davis says of the anonymous allegations that his family demanded a six-digit payoff for his commitment. “We knew it wasn’t true, so it didn’t really un-focus me. I just learned that you really can’t trust no one on the recruiting scene. You’ve just got to keep a tight circle.”

Davis figures he’s done that, relying on his family to deflect the negativity, and expanding his circle only as far as friends in the game who can relate to the process. In that, he’s got good company, particularly with a trio of his future UK teammates, all of whom will likely be McDonald’s All-Americans at season’s end. “I talked to Michael Gilchrist a lot, and when I realized Marquis Teague and Kyle Wiltjer were coming too, that was just a bonus,” Davis says of the months leading up to his decision.

It won’t be easy to shine in a class loaded with five-star recruits, but Davis has the talent to stand out. A combo forward in the Kevin Durant mold, Davis swears he’s grown almost six inches since the spring. “It just kind of happened,” he says. “I didn’t really have knee pains or anything. People are shocked about it. I guess I was one of the lucky ones.”

Of that, there’s little doubt: As overmatched opponents of his Perspectives (IL) Charter School squad are learning this winter, Davis has sprouted while retaining a skill set that makes him one of the most versatile players in the nation. Asked to self-diagnose his game, Davis says he’s focused on improving his outside shot but mostly on adding weight. “Honestly, I grew so much over summer, the weight hasn’t had a chance to catch up yet,” he says, acknowledging that he’s doing light weight work now before planning to hit the weights hard in Lexington next summer.

And once he’s on campus, the goal will be the same as it was for last year’s ridiculously talented UK freshman class: a national title as the crowning achievement on the way to an NBA career. “We know everyone’s picking us to win an NCAA championship with this class. If we go out and play like we’re supposed to, we feel like we should,” Davis says. “And then I really want to go to the NBA. Seeing that Coach Cal put five players in the League last year, that really shocked me. I was thinking, that could be me.”

Like his Wildcat predecessors, a single season in college might well be enough for Davis. You gotta believe he’s looking forward to the day when a big payday isn’t an ugly rumor, but a just reward for reaching the game’s highest level.

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  • Jay

    It’s sad all these kids think about is going to the NBA and getting paid. “One and done” is in their mind before they even get to college. It’s sad for the college game.

  • TJ

    When you on top of your game, people will hate. In this case people were mad when they found out AD wasnt choosing their favorite school. its sad what these blogs can do these days and face no consequences

  • http://www.slamonline.com Eboy

    Perhaps if young cats get more than a year of college education, some of them can learn the meaning of words like “contraction”.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    I think the rule should be if a kid is good enough to go to the pros outta HS, like a LeBron or Amare or Dwight, he should be allowed to.
    If he goes to college, he should not be allowed to go pro until after his junior year.
    The problem though, would be all the kids who THINK they’re good enough to go pro after high school and get drafted in the lottery but really aren’t.
    Cats like CJ Miles, Louis Williams and Amir Johnson.

  • http://shinefluid@aol.com just bcuz

    if you werent any good at what you do…no one would care…so take it as a compliment…pimp the system dont let it pimp you

  • Jay

    @Enigmatic I would make it straight to the pros or two years in college instead of three like you suggested. Lots of kids would still go the college route this way, and that extra year will benefit them and the college game as a whole.

  • http://google c_cantrell

    i think it should simply be just like it was before.. if the players feel they can make the jump straight to the league outta high school then hell let them do it.. alot of players would choose to do so to get the money to support their families and im all for that even if they are sittin on the end of the bench and never get any burn at least they are providing for and taking care of thier families

  • http://www.need4sheed.com Tarzan Cooper

    Enigmatic, take cj miles off your list right now. Dude is solid and playing great this year. ….. Feel free to put gerald green in his place

  • Chuck

    If you haven’t seen Anthony play, go to Youtube and observe skills you haven’t seen in a big man since Hakeem was at Houston. Quick, reflexed, can jump, great touch and can put the ball on the floor. It’s matter of him growing into his body. Very special.

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  • http://www.youtube.com/user/officerbarbrady what

    Worked out fine for Lou Williams and Amir Johnson. Maybe not initially but they are doing fine now. If they have the talent to go pro out of high school, they should be allowed to do so just like everyone else in every other profession.