UK Basketball: Star recruit Davis isn't looking too far ahead
Kentucky signee Anthony Davis, shown during practice for the Nike Hoop Summit, is already being projected as a possible No. 1 pick in the 2012 NBA draft. (Photo submitted)
Anthony Davis is already being projected as a possible top pick in the 2012 draft, something that surprised the Chicago star. Yet his high school coach, Cortez Hale, says UK fans don’t have to worry about him looking too far into the future.
“His focus is always on Kentucky and winning a national title. We never talk about the NBA. That is in the future. All he’s worried about right now is winning that national championship next year,” said Hale, who was in Houston to watch UK play in this year’s Final Four.
Hale says the April all-star games — the McDonald’s All-American Game, Nike Hoop Summit and Jordan Brand Classic — gave a glimpse of how good the 6-10 Davis can be and how versatile he is. He’s regarded as a superb shot blocker and defender, but Hale says his offense is better than many realize.
“He can definitely shoot the 3. He has not been shooting it a lot because he was around so many great players in the all-star games, there was no need for him to shoot outside. Trust me, that’s not what you want him to do, but he can stand out there and prove people wrong if need be,” Hale said. “He will shock a lot of teams next year. You are going to be very happy with the way he plays.
“Remember, he was a shooting guard before he hit his growth spurt. That used to be all he liked to do, and we had to get him out of that shooting outside. But he can use all his talents, and he has a lot of them. That’s why in the all-star games he was always in the 3-point contests to show he can shoot the 3.”
His guard skills, though, pay off in another way now that he’s a center-power forward.
“He is very versatile at going left or right. He is very good either way, something not all big guys can do,” Hale said. “He can handle the ball that well because he was used to dribbling the ball and even running the offense at one point in his career. He’s used to pressure because he brought the ball 94 feet up the court. Most big men are not used to that. That’s why some things are just a lot easier for him.”
Davis played well in all three all-star games and was the most valuable player at the Jordan Brand Classic, something Hale told Davis’ father was going to happen when they were together before the game.
“It’s hard for a post player to get MVP, but he was sensational,” Hale said. “His dad is a big UK fan, too. There were a lot of Kentucky fans there (in Charlotte, N.C.) for that game and his dad, who wears nothing but UK gear, loved that. His dad always has something with UK on.
“But the best thing about the all-star games was that Anthony stepped up and proved the doubters wrong. Of course those doubters motivated him. He knew he had to prove himself because he was not on a great high school team. He had doubters, mainly because a lot of folks just did not know much about him. He went out and made us very proud with the way he played.”
Still, even Hale was a bit taken aback by Davis’ 13-of-15 shooting performance in the Jordan Brand.
“I knew he could score, but it was shocking in that game for him to score 29 points. He’s not a guard, and they usuallly star in those games,” Hale said. “He still had to get most of his points off putbacks and his inside game. He didn’t get to take but two or three jump shots, but that was fine with him.
“I think that game helped his confience. He definitely proved to everybody in the media and UK fans that he can dominate against the nation’s top players.
“Now he’s happy to be headed to UK to continue that success. But I do think he proved why some have ranked him the No. 1 player in the nation with his all-star play and why those who doubted him were wrong.”