Davis likely to be next Chicagoan taken at No. 1


Jun 8

It is said that history often repeats itself and on June 28 at the 2012 NBA Draft, it will happen once again if Commissioner David Stern announces Anthony Davis as the first pick.

It was four years ago when Derrick Rose, a Chicago kid who earned McDonald’s All-American honors as a senior before playing one season of college basketball for John Calipari and leading his team to the Final Four, was taken with the No. 1 selection. Now, another product of one of America’s best basketball cities who fits the same description, Davis, is the consensus choice to land with the New Orleans Hornets, winners of the draft lottery.

And, who knows, given that Simeon’s Jabari Parker recently graced the cover of Sports Illustrated following his junior year—the magazine called him the best high school basketball player since LeBron James—it may not be long before the city sees another one of its own being selected with the NBA Draft’s top choice.

“Chicago is one of the greatest basketball cities,” said Davis, in town this week for the NBA’s predraft camp. “A lot of great players. So I guess it’s on the rise. Great ballplayers, great competition.”

As for the mindset that he developed growing up in the city, Davis, who led the University of Kentucky to the national championship this past season after attending Perspectives Charter School, said: “You’ve got to be tough. You’ve got to have a strong mind. You can’t let anything get to you too easily. Most guys from Chicago are tough and they love the game. Just go out there and play, don’t let nothing distract you.”

Davis and Rose, who went to Simeon Career Academy before playing for Calipari at Memphis, aren’t close friends, but the two have met and talked on more than one occasion. But assuming Davis does go No. 1, he’ll forever be linked with a player who he admires and respects.

“I used to watch him play,” Davis said of Rose. “He’s a monster. We played on the same AAU team. I was watching his highlights the other day. He was a monster. But as far as the same category… never.”

Kia Draft 2012 logo

While neither Davis nor the Hornets have said publically that Davis will be New Orleans’ choice, the writing appears to be on the wall. On Thursday, Davis had dinner with Hornets coach Monty Williams and said he liked getting to know the man who he’ll probably be spending a lot of time with in his first few professional seasons.

“It was great,” said Davis of his experience with Williams. “Real cool guy and he keeps it real with you, says what’s on his mind.”

Among other things, they watched Game 6 of the Heat and Celtics’ Eastern Conference Finals matchup. Davis, a big fan of Miami’s LeBron James, enjoyed watching his 45 point, 15 rebound and five assist performance.

“I called it,” said Davis. “I knew that was going to happen. Great players step up. He wants to win a ring so bad, he’s not going to go home. When he came out early and started dominating, I knew he was going for a big game.”

Earlier this week, it was another NBA MVP Davis mentioned as an opponent he couldn’t wait to face—Kobe Bryant. And while he insists he meant no disrespect, on Friday, Davis talked about which big men he looked forward to seeing on the court.

“Kevin Garnett and Dwight Howard,” said Davis, who checks in at 6-10, 222 pounds. “I’m kind of scared of KG though. He’s kind of crazy. But he still has love for the game. He really plays well and he plays hard for the whole 48 minutes.”

When a reporter asked if he saw Garnett, who attended Farragut Career Academy before being taken with the NBA Draft’s fifth overall pick in 1995, Davis reminded him of his youth.

“No,” laughed Davis. “I was probably three years old.”

Davis, who is 17 years younger than Garnett, a player to whom he’s often compared, wasn’t kidding.

While Garnett’s career may be nearing its end, Davis is just getting started. Next stop, New Orleans.

Kidd-Gilchrist modeling his game after Pippen’s

While there is no clear-cut consensus on who will be selected behind Davis at No. 2, there is a chance it could be one of his Kentucky teammates, which would mark the first time in NBA history that players from the same team were selected with the draft’s top two picks.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, a 6-7, 233-pound forward, is projected to be taken among the top five and is expected to receive consideration from the Michael Jordan-owned Charlotte Bobcats at No. 2.

“You could say so,” said Kidd-Gilchrist when asked if being selected immediately after Davis would make it all the more special. “But it’s a blessing in general. It doesn’t really matter where I go—30, 10, 1, 2, it doesn’t really matter.”

On Thursday, Kidd-Gilchrist told reporters that he’s a big fan of Jordan’s old running mate, Hall of Famer and Bulls ambassador Scottie Pippen.

“I like Pippen’s game a lot. That’s old school,” said Kidd-Gilchrist. “But I like Pippen. That’s old school to me. Don’t have to score. A defensive guy more than anything. And a winner. I loved him.”

“High energy, loves to play hard,” said Davis when asked to provide his own scouting report for Kidd-Gilchrist. “Great around the rim. He cuts to the basket very hard. He loves the game. He never gets tired; he always has his motor on.”

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