Club coach watched Davis' unlikely journey

June, 27, 2012
6/27/12
8:20
PM CT
Anthony DavisScott Powers for ESPN.comAnthony Davis didn't have the confidence of a top pick when walked in to Tai Streets gym in 2010.

Anthony Davis didn’t want to practice with former NFL wide receiver Tai Streets’ club basketball team, MeanStreets, when Davis showed up for the first time in the spring of 2010.

At that point, Davis was unknown by nearly everyone. He hadn’t played club basketball since he was in junior high, and his high school, Perspectives, wasn’t somewhere college coaches or even local Chicago media traveled to check out players.

Looking to give Davis exposure, he and his father, Anthony Sr., approached Streets for an opportunity to play on his Nike-sponsored team. Streets agreed and invited Davis to a practice.

“I remember I had on my sheet a 6-7 player from Perspectives,” Streets said. “He was another big body. The first time he came to practice he didn’t think he could play with those guys. His dad made him stay, and the rest is history.”

The rest is history.

MeanStreets gave Davis a chance to showcase his game in front of first national scouts and then college coaches. By the end of the summer, he was nearly everyone’s No. 1 player in the country and was headed to Kentucky. Now two years later, he’s a won national championship and is expected to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft on Thursday.

It’s all unbelievable to Streets.

“It’s amazing just how it happened so fast,” Streets said. “When I first saw him, no, I didn’t that was realistic. As it went on and it kept going and going, I was like this is going to be special. No. 1 pick would never have crossed your mind. He kept improving, and he kept showing.”

Streets still often texts with Davis. Streets said he’ll pass on any advice from his NFL career when he feels Davis needs it, but he doesn’t think he does right now.

“I think it helps that all the attention he got came so late,” Streets said. “That helps 100 percent. Kids nowadays, they’re going to be told they’re the greatest thing since they were in sixth or seventh grade. It helps he didn’t get that until his last year of school. Everything happened so fast. He’s had to work for everything.”

Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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