Grantland published their pre-season All-American teams over the course of this week, and they decided to take the path slightly less traveled as far as these lists have generally looked heading into the season. Where the media have typically made Terrence Jones the lead Kentucky representative on the preseason teams, while Anthony Davis landed further down the list or in honorable mention territory, Grantland put Davis on the first team with Jones being named honorable mention. I have no problem with that because Davis will be a big-time star, but the idea that John Henson is on any All-America list ahead of some of the people he’s ahead of (Jones included) is laughable, at least to anyone who watched him manage four points in a craptastic performance in last year’s Elite Eight.
Jared Sullinger, Jeremy Lamb, Kendall Marshall and John Jenkins join Davis on the first team, while the second team includes Jordan Taylor, Harrison Barnes, Austin Rivers and Ashton Gibbs along with Henson. Here’s a little of the breakdown of Davis:
As long as Coach Cal can do with Davis what he did with John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans, Derrick Rose, and Brandon Knight, I have no doubt Davis will develop into a dynamic and versatile matchup nightmare, especially in a conference that lacks quality defensive big men. (See a pattern here? There are about 10 good defensive big men in Division I this year: Davis (UK), Andre Drummond (UConn), Alex Oriakhi (UConn), John Henson (UNC), Festus Ezeli (Vandy), Trevor Mbakwe (Minn), Perry Jones (Baylor), Thomas Robinson (KU), Mason Plumlee (Duke), and Patric Young (Florida). Each one of those guys should be able to dominate.
As long as the offense goes through him — and all indications are that it will — Davis should fill every column of the stat sheet and carry Kentucky to a no. 1 seed and another SEC championship.
…and the accompanying Draft Express evaluation of Davis as a player:
Strengths: Rare physical specimen. 6-10 with a 7-4 wingspan and exceptional athleticism. Intense competitor who runs the floor, contests shots, and finishes around the rim as well as any big man in the country. Intangibles, fundamentals, and touch leave plenty of room for optimism for the future. Upside is off the charts.
Needs Work: Raw player who is still coming into his own physically and skill-wise. Struggles to create his own offense consistently. Lacks experience and polish.
Projection: Top 3 pick. Won’t be asked to be more than a solid cog on a loaded Kentucky team, which is likely in his favor. A solid, productive season with some occasional fireworks will likely suffice for him to be drafted very early. He’ll need to do more, however, to go no. 1.
And here’s the blurb on Jones making honorable mention, which is a selection that will probably make these guys feel pretty dumb in about two months:
Terrence Jones, Kentucky: He has every gift in the book (wingspan, ball-handling, quickness, scoring instincts, passing acumen) except, possibly, a shot. His body language leaves a bit to be desired at times, too, and he shouldn’t be shooting 3s ever unless he can improve his 32.9 percent rate. If he lives up to his talent, however, he’ll be a first-teamer.