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Do Anthony Davis and Anthony Bennett have more in Common Than a First Name?

“Dude, you have my same name. *That* is neat.”

With the basketball season over a quarter of the way through, those who have to fill tons of space on hoops writing (which is a lot of us) have started considering Player of the Year candidates.

There’s the usual results: Doug McDermott, Trey Burke, and that goofball Plumlee, but a dark horse out west has come on strong to make up some surprising ground: former Kentucky recruit Anthony Bennett.  Jason King (and others) took a look at the versatile forward and wondered if he could follow in his namesake’s footsteps:

Labeling Bennett as the top freshman in the country — ahead of highly regarded prospects such as Shabazz Muhammad and Nerlens Noel — is hardly a stretch. If anything, the debate should be about whether Bennett is the best player in the country in the early going.

A freshman (Kentucky’s Anthony Davis) won the Wooden Award a season ago. There’s no reason it couldn’t happen again.

While Bennett is certainly good, saying “there’s no reason it couldn’t happen” isn’t nearly the same as saying it should happen again.  While Bennett is averaging 19 and 8, he’ll have to make sure the Rebels keep winning for the team, and his candidacy, to keep a head of steam.

For a little perspective, the same column ran a little poll to see the BEST college players of the last decade-plus.  The results?  Not very surprising.

Ranking the best college players since 2000 (NBA accomplishments not considered), in order of total points, with number of first-place votes in parentheses (voters: Eamonn Brennan, Andy Katz, Dana O’Neil, Myron Medcalf and me):

1. Tyler Hansbrough North Carolina (3) — 45
2. Kevin Durant, Texas (1) — 39
3. Jay Williams, Duke (1) — 38
4. Anthony Davis, Kentucky — 20
5. Jameer Nelson, Saint Joseph’s — 16
6. Carmelo Anthony, Syracuse — 15
6. Michael Beasley, Kansas State — 15
8. Blake Griffin, Oklahoma — 13
9. J.J. Redick, Duke — 11
10. Shane Battier, Duke — 10

Of the ten, four (Durant, Davis, Melo, and Beasley) were freshmen.  John Wall was just outside the top ten.  Is Anthony Bennett good enough to make that list?  Is he better than John Wall?  Considering that many of those guys are now NBA All-Stars, and the others played for UNC or Duke, that seems unlikely.

But Anthony Davis, superstar that he is, can now add another title to his impressive resume: Trailblazer.  I know he doesn’t play for Portland, but even just a year removed, he’s already setting the bar high for freshmen, and Anthonys, everywhere.  Whether or not this is the year a first-year player with his same name follows his suit remains to be seen, but it’s good company to be in, even if it’s just a passing mention.

Article written by Corey Nichols

36 Comments for Do Anthony Davis and Anthony Bennett have more in Common Than a First Name?

  1. Beepthacreep
    9:10 am December 20, 2012 Permalink

    First. And awful post corey

  2. UKmmg2K
    9:15 am December 20, 2012 Permalink

    Really wish we could have gotten Anthony Bennett… he would have definitely been a quick fit into Kentucky and I’ve seen him play once or twice. The kid is a monster.

  3. Uglymuffin
    9:16 am December 20, 2012 Permalink

    I didn’t really follow that last sentence there.

  4. toestabber
    9:31 am December 20, 2012 Permalink

    Blake Griffen should be NO.1 WTF…

  5. BBNTillDeath
    9:34 am December 20, 2012 Permalink

    If this is a comparison from Anthony Bennett to Anthony Davis, this is a bad post.

  6. Yesterdays
    9:35 am December 20, 2012 Permalink

    Which ones are All-Stars? Melo, Griffin and Durant.

  7. theWilkman
    9:36 am December 20, 2012 Permalink

    Bogus list. If it really is taking NBA performance out of the equation, Durant shouldn’t be higher than AD. I, like most of you, believe Davis should be #1, but I can understand arguments for Hansbrough and Jay Williams. Durant, though? He’s was/is a great talent, but he didn’t lead his team far enough to warrant his choice over Davis. My $0.02.

  8. Devastation INC
    9:37 am December 20, 2012 Permalink

    dude i feel for you. I wrote for my juco sports paper and I sucked at it too.

  9. CampusToeStabber
    9:37 am December 20, 2012 Permalink

    The world will end Friday…

  10. Jones Returns
    9:44 am December 20, 2012 Permalink

    He was at the top of my list for recruits wanted along with Brandon Ashley who is now averaging 8.8 points 6 rebounds and 1.4 blocks a game for #10 Arizona…. sigh

  11. Biglaw Dawgin'
    9:54 am December 20, 2012 Permalink

    3 questions: Who is Anthony Bennett? Who does he play for? Who cares?

  12. UKmmg2K
    9:56 am December 20, 2012 Permalink

    #11 Only the 7th ranked recruit this year… He ended up staying local and committed to UNLV.. and many people DID care because he was supposedly coming to UK and there was a quick change of events.

  13. Les Miles
    10:00 am December 20, 2012 Permalink

    7. Really? Because his team didn’t go far enough in the tournament? That’s a lazy argument. I love AD just like any UK fan, but AD had a lot better players around him than Durant. How many players at Texas were drafted the same year as Durant and how many UK players were drafted the same year as Davis?

    Durant averaged 25.8 ppg and 11.1 rpg during his freshman season. In Big 12 games he averaged 28.9 ppg 12.5 rpg. His college career high for scoring was 37 points, which he achieved on four occasions. Durant had thirty 20-point games his freshman year, including 37 in a losing effort against Kansas for the regular-season Big 12 title. He, like AD, won ever major college award out there.

  14. Seriously
    10:19 am December 20, 2012 Permalink

    Corey’s posts belong in sports illustrated for kids

  15. BradinMississippi
    10:22 am December 20, 2012 Permalink

    If the world ends tomorrow I hope it ends early. Tomorrow is my daughters birthday and we are taking her and her friends on a carriage ride around downtown Memphis and dinner at the Rendezvous. if it ends early I will save some serious money.

  16. Biglaw Dawgin'
    10:37 am December 20, 2012 Permalink

    13 – I’m going to have to agree with 7 here. Texas was slightly above average that year. There have been A LOT of players to put up good numbers on average teams, and he only did it for 1 year. If you have good numbers, there has to be something else to go along with it to get you that high on the list. Such as carrying your team to a great record, taking them far in the tourney, or putting up those numbers for more than 1 year.

    In the NCAA there’s always 3-5 players a year that put up 25 ppg on average teams. That list says it doesn’t take NBA accomplishments into account, but if Durant would’ve had the same NBA career that Greg Oden has, he wouldn’t be in the top 10.

  17. Will S
    10:48 am December 20, 2012 Permalink

    Friends and trolls of Duke basketball, make sure you tune in to ESPNU @ 4pm EST to see Jabari Parker commit to my Blue Devils! Scary next year w/ Rodney Hood, Jabari, Matt Jones + Semi Ojeleye

  18. blindsided
    10:52 am December 20, 2012 Permalink

    #15….Heres hoping I die early tomorrow so you can save some serious money. lol

  19. Who Mike Jones
    10:56 am December 20, 2012 Permalink

    This is an atrocious article. Who does he play for? Why would you not bother to mention who he plays for?

  20. Les Miles
    10:56 am December 20, 2012 Permalink

    16. That’s such an easy way out. If we had Durant on our team last year instead of AD, can you honestly say we wouldn’t have won the title? We still would have smoked the field and everybody who reads this knows it.

  21. theWilkman
    11:03 am December 20, 2012 Permalink

    13 – I’m with Biglaw here. Texas WAS better than most teams that year. They were supposed to do much more in the tournament than they did, and since they underperformed I’d rank Durant a little lower. To answer your question, no other players were drafter from TX that year, but DJ Augustin was #9 the year after, so he DID have at least 1 other NBA-caliber player.

    I’m not saying take the kid off the list, just that Davis had a better overall season, a bigger impact, and therefore should be ranked higher. Sure, Davis had a great team around him, but instead of fading into the background, he took charge and let them to a title.

  22. Huh?
    11:14 am December 20, 2012 Permalink

    Putting Kevin Durant at #2 on this list is revisionist history. He was very good in college but no way was he the 2nd best college player of the 2000s. Jay Williams, Anthony Davis, Carmelo, Michael Beasely, Blake Griffin and JJ Redick were all better college players IMO. Durant wasn’t even considered the best freshman in the country in his only college year, Greg Oden was.

  23. jz
    11:29 am December 20, 2012 Permalink

    agree with #7 as well. if davis played at a school where he was the number one option his averages would have been a lot better.

  24. I
    11:35 am December 20, 2012 Permalink

    To compare Bennett to AD is ridiculous. This post is awful in every kind of way, just like the way they always are and always will be, in the future.

  25. jengland
    12:08 pm December 20, 2012 Permalink

    4 of the 10 are one and done…kinda interesting

  26. buckster1
    12:08 pm December 20, 2012 Permalink

    I also beleive AD should be ranked ahead of KD. I am not sure we win a title if we exchanged the two players. KD was no where near the defensive force that AD was. Keep in mind for every block AD had there were many more shots missed due to changeing their shot to avoid AD. With KD that would not have happened. There is a reason Texas did not win it all that year. As they say Defense wins championships. AD helped prove that.

  27. Les Miles
    12:19 pm December 20, 2012 Permalink

    21. That’s one other player for Texas that got drafted one year later. AD had 5 other pros on his team the year he played. AD had significantly more help around him than Durant and it’s not really close. Texas was a 4 seed that year so there were plenty of teams better than them and they lost to a 5 seed. Plus, he had Rick Barnes as a coach – which is pretty much a death kneel come tourney time. Again, if Durant was in AD’s place last year, would we have lost in the tournament? That’s a resounding no.

    22. Wasn’t the best freshman in his only year of college? He wasn’t considered a better pro prospect because he went #2. However, he won every major college award just like AD did and was the first freshman to win all of those awards. If he wasn’t the best freshman that year, let alone the best player that year, he wouldn’t have cleaned house on all those awards.

  28. CATS
    12:54 pm December 20, 2012 Permalink

    #17 – I’ve been hearing Michigan State, but I guess we’ll see.

  29. Biglaw Dawgin'
    1:26 pm December 20, 2012 Permalink

    20 – You saying that’s a “lazy argument” or “easy way out” is the easy way out. There’s no possible way to know if UK would have won with him last year instead of AD. But I can tell you what I do know, if KD was on last year’s team, there’s no way he would’ve averaged 25 and 12. My point is, he was pretty good in college, but most all of the hype is based on his stats and his NBA play. He had very little hype while he was actually in school, and that didn’t start until after January. Like I said, his team didn’t do much, and players averaging 25 points a game on teams that don’t do much are a dime a dozen. All his hype is due to his current NBA career. If dude wasn’t currently a top 5 NBA player, he would long be forgotten in the college ranks.

  30. tyrone biggins
    1:27 pm December 20, 2012 Permalink

    Idk but Ive watched AB play a game of 2 this year and he def. looked like a beast. He looked better than any other freshman i’ve watched this year. Rasheed Suliamon looks pretty damn good too. If Duke can keep a few from this years team and pick up jabari, they’re gonna be tough next year too.

  31. Chicago Chris
    1:33 pm December 20, 2012 Permalink

    Reddick? Battier? *Retch*

  32. JMFATZ47
    1:41 pm December 20, 2012 Permalink

    Durant is, without question, one of the top 3 college players of the last 10 yrs. This is not debatable. He did some really amazing things at Texas.

  33. Les Miles
    2:38 pm December 20, 2012 Permalink

    29. No, the lazy argument is saying a player is better simply because he won a title. If you want to go by that merit then Jon Scheyer was better than Wall, Cousins or Knight and we both know that’s not true.

    Pretty good? He was amazing and clearly you never watched him. You’re right, KD wouldn’t have averaged 25 ppg but neither did AD did he? KD’s college hype wasn’t built on his NBA success. The one year he was in school he won every major college award (except a title) and he was the first freshman to do it. KD being ranked #2 on the list pretty much signifies that he isn’t just some random ‘dude’.

  34. theWilkman
    3:28 pm December 20, 2012 Permalink

    If anything, being on a team with that many pros HURT Davis’ stats. How many times have we heard Cal say “he took the 5th most shots!”? If you put him on a different team with a top 10 PG (Augustin) the rest of Davis’ numbers would have been as outrageous as his block %. Like I said, KD was a GREAT talent, but Davis was the better collegiate.

    And let’s be honest, leading your team to a championship DOES matter. It isn’t the only thing (no one thinks Trent Dilfer is better than Dan Marino, to use a different sport) but it most definitely makes an impact on a player’s legacy.

  35. Anthony Davis Has A Posse
    5:00 pm December 20, 2012 Permalink

    Without knowing their criteria, hard to agree or disagree. But I can say I have no problem with Hansbrough at the top. He produced big numbers for 4 straight years and his team succeeded. Not much else you can do. And, while I was typing this, he drew four phantom foul calls.