Any college basketball pundit will tell you an NBA rule on the so-called one-and-done players is the only thing that would keep Anthony Davis at Kentucky beyond this upcoming season. But Davis' high school coach at Perspectives MSA in Chicago says his former protege is not one to look down the road.
"He is not looking ahead to the NBA at all. He is the type of kid that takes things one day at a time, and his goal right now is to get to Kentucky and make good of his promise to win a national championship," Cortez Hale told "The Leach Report" radio show earlier this summer. "That is just him, he sets his goals very high and aims to reach them, so why not go for the top goal."
Hale says Davis is a former six-foot-three point guard who grew into a dominant big man.
"His career has just taken off for the good right now. He started out as a nobody and nobody knew who he was except for the people in our little conference, to now being the number one player, where people recognize him everywhere he goes, it's amazing, just amazing," Hale said, adding that Davis retained the skills from his guard days and did not sacrifice any coordination.
"He is a tall point guard. He can handle the ball, shoot from outside, and he is not uncoordinated. He is comfortable being outside the perimeter," Hale noted, "where some guys his height are not comfortable being outside. Anthony can run the offense and things like that."
How scary is that prospect for UK's opponents this season?
"The thing that most impresses me first is his passing ability is remarkable. For a kid his size, he loves to pass the ball. Another thing, his basketball knowledge and his knowledge of the game. For a kid that is 18-years old, he knows the game and knows a lot of things and is always watching," said Hale. "He doesn't just watch who shoots and scores, he sees 'are they running the 2-3 zone or they are running this type of play'. He knows the game well. Another thing is his scoring ability. He hasn't shown it that much as far as the all-star games but he can actually shoot the ball very well, very well."
But the skill that has attracted the most attention during the early practice sessions at UK is blocking shots. Davis has the build to be good at it, but he has also the instincts.
"When he was a sophomore at 6-3, he was kind of a shotblocker. Now, it's easier for him because he is 6-10 with a 7-5 wingspan so it is easier to catch those shots now," Hale noted. "Sometimes in games, me and my assistant coaches we look at each other (and say) 'did he really just block that shot'. He is so long and is just perfect at it."
My UK radio network broadcast partner has compared Davis to a former University of Louisville star, Purvis Ellison, was the Final Four MVP in 1986. Hale can see that comparison but he points to a current NBA star as the player whom Davis reminds him of.
"We compare him to Kevin Durant because of the fact that he is 6'10 going on
7-feet and can shoot outside, handle the ball, and go inside when need be. A lot of people look at Anthony and think he is a power forward or a center but naturally he is a small forward," said Hale.
But the coach is confident that Davis can play the 5-spot at UK if needed.
"I think he would be great as a center because he could be that new age center where they can step outside and take people outside and not just be a banger," Hale explained. "As far as not having the beef in the SEC and nonconference teams, he will be okay because I know him and I know his motivation and work ethic and he will definitely be in the weight room getting bigger, so he will not be the same size as he was this year. He is going to be okay."
Hale says Davis became a celebrity in the Chicago high school ranks and so he's comfortable with being in the spotlight. Ofcourse, the attention in Big Blue Nation goes to a whole other level but Hale has no worries about Davis adapting to that part of being a Wildcat.