They created candidates, put it up to popular vote, and you know what happens next. As part of its annual “NEXT” issue, Anthony Davis will be featured in ESPN the Magazine. The issue highlights those athletes who are about to make a step up and move into the next level of sports stardom. Davis is the pick for basketball and his selection makes him the college basketball player who will be featured. Excerpts of the story are below, and it is the first of many honors for the Brow they call Anthony Davis:
When he was an oversize infant born in Chicago, his family took to calling him Fat Man — a name that held most of the way through high school. But when puberty (and the basketball gods) stretched him seven inches over a few months during his junior year, it was time for a new moniker. Now, seeing the 6’10” Davis creeping along the court in practice, sticky limbs shooting out from nowhere, Kentucky coach John Calipari has taken to calling him Spider-Man. “He just goes ‘pfft’ and his arms go and he’s hanging in the air,” Calipari says.
Davis is just starting to get comfortable inside his taffy physique — his version of a superhero suit. Two months into the season, the 220-pound freshman has already saved a win against North Carolina, snuffing John Henson’s last-second jumper like spit on a birthday candle. On that play alone, Davis showed why he isn’t just Tall Guy or Big Fella.
More from the article:
Now he’s a menace. Davis had blocked 14.74 percent of two-point field goals taken against him through Dec. 17 (fifth nationally), with 4.4 rejections per game (second). When Davis had seven blocks in a win over Kansas at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 15, Calipari says he texted 16-year NBA vet Marcus Camby (whom he coached at UMass): “Remind you of you when you were younger?” Camby laughed and responded yes. Then Cal gets serious: “Anthony is ahead of Marcus at this stage. Marcus was good but not like this as a freshman.”
Davis’ impact on defense is where his length and athleticism are most apparent, but it’s his offensive potential — the ballhandling skills and shooting touch Uncle Keith instilled — that persuaded Calipari to switch up his dribble-drive motion (DDM) offense. At both Memphis and Kentucky, DDM always worked with a big who ran the floor for mostly transition buckets or putbacks. But with soft-handed Davis playing alongside preseason All-America post Terrence Jones, Calipari tweaked the strategy to include more pick-and-roll action. So far, Davis has scored on half the pick-and-roll possessions he’s run (1.11 points per possession), mostly on a solid-looking 19-foot jumper.
Of course, things are more interesting when Davis goes up for breakaway dunks, which is how he scores most of his 11.8 ppg. He’s easy to find on lobs, and his explosive vertical makes for a show. “He puts his teeth on the rim,” Calipari says. “He’s jumping that high with his size, which means his arm is probably a foot above the square.” It’s just one more way Anthony Davis has made a name for himself.