Whicker: New Lakers star Anthony Davis has bloomed into an NBA perennial

first_imgEL SEGUNDO — Most of Chicago is bulging with 6-foot-3 kids who can shoot 3s and handle. Most of them stay in Chicago. Only the special ones leave.Anthony Davis was just an eyebrow in the crowd through the first two years at Perspectives-HSA charter school.Certainly he was nothing like the strong-looking 6-foot-7 guy who strode into the University of Chicago Lab School gym for a summer league game 11 years ago.“Who’s that?” asked Cortez Hale, the Perspectives coach. How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error “He’d block shots and we’d say, ‘Where’d he come from?’ because he wasn’t even in the help position. And when we’d put him on the left block because Eric Gordon was in the corner and nobody could help, A.D. had such body control that he could make moves and score like a veteran would.”Put it this way: Two years ago, Lakers fans would have danced on a 5 o’clock freeway if they’d known James and Davis would be together in 2019-20.Now they’re here, regardless of where Kawhi Leonard went, and it all comes down to whose ligaments and tendons can endure.From what Davis chose to show Saturday, heart and soul are fine. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersNobody could place him for a minute. Then the young man came over and started talking and, to general disbelief, turned out to be Anthony. Hale hadn’t seen him since school got out.“What did you do?” Hale asked.“I just woke up like this,” Davis said.Hale laughed. “Well, maybe you should go back to sleep,” he said.The next notch on that growth spurt was commemorated here Saturday, when Davis was introduced as the next Laker, at least for another year. Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions center_img Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed He said he only wanted to think about playing with LeBron James and the others around him in 2019-20.General Manager Rob Pelinka, who called this a “history-shifting moment,” has a more definitive vision. He talked about the “decade of dominance” that might follow.For however long it lasts, the Lakers will benefit greatly from Davis’ late-blooming, the fact that he knew the game outside the lane first.He eventually reached 6-11, led Kentucky to an NCAA championship as a one-and-done in 2011, and led the NBA in blocked shots and rebounds in New Orleans. Rarely has anyone gotten so good so fast, and Davis has been this good for so long that he seems older than he is.Asked about load management, the current euphemism for blowing off games, Davis shook his head.“I’m playing,” he said. “I’m just 26.”Despite the tight media windows in which the Lakers operate these days, Davis came off relaxed, funny, direct.His image took the inevitable hit this season when he asked to leave New Orleans and then was forced to stay when the trade-deadline deal didn’t happen.Wearing a “That’s all, folks” T-shirt to the final home game didn’t help, particularly in a city that has been America’s punching bag this whole century.But Davis probably showed his true side in high school, when he played all four years for Perspectives. It was a combined team from two Perspectives schools. There was no gym or weight room at Davis’ school.The team also finished 6-19 his senior year. Who stays through the rough times these days? But Davis and his father Anthony Sr. refused to transfer. “Other teams have lots of good players, but my teammates needed me,” Davis said.Cleveland State actually offered Davis before that junior season. Davis was so impressed that he nearly signed.“I told him to hold off a little bit, there might be some others,” Hale said.By the fall of his senior year, Davis was ranked No. 1 nationally by Scout.com. The college guys gathered to watch his Meanstreets AAU team, coached by former NFL receiver Tai Streets. Kentucky got him signed.“Once they got involved, that was it,” Hale said. “Coach (John) Calipari came to see him and he kept saying, ‘That’s the next Marcus Camby.’ ’’Calipari had found and coached Camby at Massachusetts. But Davis would become much better than that. Suddenly he was engulfed by talent. Five other players on the 2011 team were drafted. It just made Davis better. Kentucky won every NCAA Tournament game by at least eight points.New Orleans drafted him first overall and Davis averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds.“For a player on that level, he’s the most coachable I’ve ever seen,” said Dave Hanners, a Pelicans assistant back then. “They have a guy named Kevin Hanson who is great at player development. He had A.D. out there after practice, even when back-to-backs were coming up, and A.D. got better at putting it on the floor, learning how to create shots.Related Articleslast_img

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Comments