After a tremendous summer, Anthony Davis (Chicago/Perspectives Charter School) had all the college scouts buzzing, but in a phone interview Friday night the 6-foot-10 skilled big man disappointed all of them except one: Kentucky coach John Calipari.
"Coach Calipari is easy to talk to and he listens to what you are saying," said Davis, who's parents had some academic questions answered by Kentucky President Dr. Lee T. Todd, Jr. on his visit before he would commit. "[Calipari] will be a father figure to me away from home. He's a demanding coach that will not tell me what I want to hear, but what I need to hear to improve."
Davis is the third player in the ESPNU 100 to commit to the Wildcats in the 2011 class. He joins No. 1-ranked Michael Gilchrist, a 6-7 small forward from St. Patrick High School in Somerdale, N.J. and No. 3-ranked Marquis Teague, a 6-2 point guard from Pike High School in Indianapolis, Ind. Currently Davis is ranked No. 12 in the 2011 class, but he is sure to be in the top five when the rankings are updated.
"It will be nice [playing with Gilchrist and Teague]," said Davis. "They are very talented and unselfish players, who are about winning, like me."
Davis was first evaluated by us this spring, playing for Mean streets AAU at the Spiece Run N' Slam in Fort Wayne, Ind., where he was simply terrific and his play has been dominant and consistent ever since. He is a great fit in Calipari's system because of his great size, skill and versatility. Davis runs the floor like a perimeter player and can finish above the rim with flare. In the dribble-drive offense, Davis is a matchup nightmare due to his ability to score over smaller defenders in the low post with his touch and off-the-charts length.
However, he can be equally-effective on the perimeter attacking off the dribble or working the screen-and-roll or-pop, depending on his defensive matchup. The offensive glass is also an area where Davis is productive because he's very quick to the ball, which makes him tough to box out, although he is thin and needs to add strength.
Defensively, Davis has the ability to defend small forwards, power forwards and centers thanks to his length, lateral foot speed and athletic ability in a switch situation. In Kentucky's pressure man defense, Davis has the ability to make up for mistakes and he can also block shots on or away from the ball and the shots he doesn't block, he will alter. Plus, he can start the fast break off of a defensive rebound or throw an outlet pass to the point guard.
"It's exciting playing with another great player," said Teague. "Davis is really good at scoring the ball and finishing. I guess I will be getting a lot more assists."
When you think of the fact that Davis will team with Gilchrist and Teague, the Wildcats size, skill and versatility is going to be scary. Plus, Gilchrist and Teague are proven winners at the highest level after bringing home gold medals for USA Basketball this past summer in Hamburg, Germany. With Gilchrist's ability to rebound and score, the fact Teague is basically a one-man fast break and Davis' versatility the Wildcats' opponents will have to pick its poison. Plus, defensively, all three of these studs can apply pressure and defend the dribble from multiple positions.
"I am excited to play with Anthony Davis. He is long, athletic and talented," said Gilchrist. "[Davis, Teague and I] are all so different, we have talent and we will have good chemistry."
This class gives Kentucky elite players that can dominate the game at different positions. Calipari and his staff continue evaluating and landing the best players to thrive in his system.
"Our goal is to win a championship," said Teague.
Paul Biancardi, who has been a head coach and assistant on NCAA tournament teams, is the national director of basketball recruiting. Reggie Rankin contributed to this piece.