- Andy Katz, ESPN.com Senior Writer
- 0 Shares
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kentucky bought a billboard promoting Anthony Davis outside of New Orleans Arena prior to the SEC tournament in March.
The purpose was to sell Davis, and the Wildcats, to New Orleans in preparation for the Final Four at the Superdome next door to the New Orleans Hornets' home.
Little did the University of Kentucky know that its marketing department had done advance work for the hometown NBA franchise.
"If that billboard isn't still up, they should put it back up," Anthony Davis Sr. said about his son.
The Hornets moved up three spots in the NBA draft lottery on Wednesday night to land the No. 1 pick, snatching the honor away from Charlotte, Washington and Cleveland.
The coincidence for Davis couldn't have been predicted. On the day he received his national championship ring from the NCAA for earning a title in New Orleans for Kentucky in March, he found out the Hornets had won the right to select him on June 28.
"I won a national championship in New Orleans, so why not win another one in New Orleans?" said Davis, who was the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four and the consensus National Player of the Year award winner in his only season at Kentucky.
"I just have to buy into what they're doing and work my hardest," said Davis, as his friends and family gathered at a Dudley's Restaurant in downtown Lexington to watch the lottery on ESPN.
New Orleans won't publicly commit to selecting Davis -- at least not yet -- but there is no other expected selection at the top of the draft. The Hornets, who finished with the worst record in the Western Conference at 21-45, do have experience up front in Emeka Okafor and Chris Kaman, if both return next season.
"That helps, because there are guys there that can show me how things work," Davis said. "They can take me under their wing. It makes it a lot easier."
Davis was savvy to the present mood in New Orleans professional sports, with the spring dominated by the news of bounty-related suspensions to the NFL's New Orleans Saints. The Saints dominated local coverage during the Final Four.
"This can kind of bring joy back to New Orleans," Davis said. "I guess I get lucky when I go there."
His family had been on edge throughout Wednesday. His father, Anthony; mother, Erainer, as well as twin sister, Antoinette, and older sister, Lesha, came in from Chicago on Wednesday. So, too, did his four grandparents and cousins.
His father had predicted Davis would go to New Orleans. His mother wanted Charlotte because she liked the city. Moving to New Orleans seems like the next step for the family, even with both sets of grandparents still living in Chicago.
"As everyone knows, Anthony is a momma's boy, so his mother will be there with him," Erainer Davis said.
Davis was relieved by the end of the night. The close-knit crew that was with him Wednesday extended to graduating Kentucky manager and future roommate/workout partner Will Martin.
The Davis' had put off signing with an agent, and it has led to some organizational challenges. The Davis' sought the advice of friend Joe Craft, a Kentucky donor whose name is on the practice facility. Wellford Tabor and Kelly Knight stepped in to help the Davis' put together a plan for this week and into next before the NBA takes over for the pre-draft camp in Chicago.
But the Davis' are moving ahead with an agent and Davis Sr. said the family interviewed with Jeff Schwartz and Henry Thomas separately Wednesday, and will meet with Bill Duffy on Thursday.
The 6-foot-10 Davis, who blocks shots and fancies himself more of a face-up forward such as Kevin Garnett offensively, has had quite a year -- from dominating in college, to leading the Wildcats to a title, to winning national awards and receiving the awards in New Orleans.
His spring hasn't been too shabby, either. Davis has visited the White House with the Wildcats and found out he's part of a pool of 21 players with a chance to be one of the final dozen on this summer's USA Olympic team in London. If Chris Bosh is out because of an abdominal strain, and with Dwight Howard ailing because of a back injury, Davis' chances increase.
Instead of playing for the Hornets in the NBA's summer league, he could be playing for the United States in London, going for gold in what has been an award-winning year.
"It's all been overwhelming," Davis said. "But it's been a great experience. Now I have a chance to play for the Olympic team and make it to London and then be ready for the NBA. We won a national championship, and now I might be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. I've just got to give all thanks to God."
Davis flashed his championship ring again -- which he won in New Orleans.
Davis said he loved Michael Jordan and when asked Tuesday what he thought of when hearing Charlotte, he replied, "Jordan." When he was asked about New Orleans, his response was, "A national championship."
The memories are still fresh for Davis and the good vibes continue to flow between him and the Crescent City.
The Hornets moved up three spots in the NBA draft lottery Wednesday night to land the No. 1 pick and, in the process, snatched the honor away from Charlotte, Washington and Cleveland.