Anthony Davis said hello to the basketball world with one resounding swat this weekend; not surprisingly, the world is responding with open arms. Today, ESPN the Magazine (yes, it still exists) named Davis one of five finalists for their “NEXT” Award in the Basketball category. The NEXT awards are given to the athletes the magazine feels are “not only on the cusp of stardom, but on the verge of transcending their sports.” Past NEXT athletes include LeBron James, Jose Reyes, Alex Rodriguez, Matt Ryan, Kevin Durant and Candace Parker. Our very own John Wall was named a NEXT finalist back in 2010 after being selected number one in the NBA draft.
Other finalists for the basketball NEXT category include Andre Drummond, Perry Jones, Jabari Parker, and Kyrie Irving. Here’s what the magazine has to say about Davis:
AGE: 18 | HOMETOWN: Chicago
FAME CLAIM: 2011 McDonald’s All-American; ESPNU No. 1 recruit overall for Class of 2011
For Anthony Davis, basketball is all about being like Kevin. “Kevin Durant on offense, Kevin Garnett on defense,” Davis says when asked to describe the game he’s building. The Kentucky frosh, the top-rated prospect in his class, isn’t being hyperbolic. An NBA Eastern Conference executive also brought up KG’s name in describing the 6’10” forward, and the comparison didn’t just end at their skill sets. “He has ‘it,'” the exec says. “He has Garnett’s demeanor. When you watch him, you know he’s going to be special. He has a fluidity and grace that is unusual. He is probably the first pick in the draft.” But that same exec also says it wouldn’t surprise him if Davis were to spend another year at Kentucky, a la Jared Sullinger at Ohio State. Because as skilled as Davis is — blocking shots with either hand, attacking the rim, nailing face-up jumpers — he is obsessed with getting better. The Chicago native landed at Kentucky in part because of John Calipari’s willingness to push him, and he’s already trying to add a more refined post game to his repertoire. If that happens? The possibilities are downright scary.
Once you stop drooling over that quote about Davis possibly staying another year, I’m putting you to work. The award features a fan vote, too! You can go vote for Davis as the NEXT athlete in basketball here. He’s currently in the lead, and if anyone can keep him there, it’s us.
Do your duty, Big Blue Nation.