LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- In one of the biggest upsets of the year, they announced the results of the Powerball Jackpot Saturday night and former University of Kentucky star Anthony Davis didn't win.
Hard to believe. He has won everything else this year.
In a season few basketball players in history would be able to match, Davis has won the John Wooden Award and James Naismith Award, national defensive player of the year award, was the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA tournament on the national championship team, became a unanimous first-team All-American and the most decorated player in the history of the nation's most tradition-rich college basketball program (as a freshman), was the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft and now, after the U.S. defeated Spain on Sunday in the 2012 London Games, is the owner of an Olympic Gold Medal.
What's left? Nobel Prize? National Book Award?
You wonder if a 19-year-old kid -- the youngest basketball gold medalist in U.S. Olympic history -- is capable of understanding just how remarkable this run of events really is. I don't think there's any way. But the great thing about Davis is that you get the feeling he's not hung up on any of it.
If you believe there's any design to any of this, that gifts sometimes come to people who can handle them best, then it might make sense that Davis, a kid who was 6 feet tall at the beginning of his freshman year at a virtually unknown school in Chicago, would be the one picked for this journey.
He wasn't a kid celebrated like the second coming from grade school on. He went to a charter school in Chicago that didn't even have a full basketball court. Perspectives School prides itself on its success in science and math education. Basketball is an activity, not a passion. Its team practiced at a nearby church. Maybe there was some Holy Water in the Gatorade buckets. Davis was 6-4 by the end of his sophomore year, and was 6-7 as a junior. When he had grown even more, and had become the most sought-after high school player in the nation as a senior, Chicago Sun-Times writer Michael O'Brien realized that of the more than 700 high school games the paper had covered the season before, not a single one included Davis.
Through all of this, Davis has maintained an even-keel temperament that players many years his senior never achieve.
He's one of the most instinctive shot-blockers the game has seen in years, and in his early days at UK made that his major weapon. But as the season went on, he showed more offensive flair, like an older kid playing with children at times, just filling in whatever gaps he saw in their games.
You've probably heard John Calipari say a hundred times, "he took the fifth-most shots of anyone on our team this season." You know what? Calipari should say it a hundred more. Because he's absolutely right -- that might be the most remarkable stat of the team's championship season.
Nineteen-year-old basketball phenoms do not defer to the team these days. They do not pride themselves on playing the game with a flair for the team first. They like to block the ball into the third row, not keep it in play to start the fast break.
Davis performs the spectacular with all the showmanship that most people use punching a time clock.
On the Olympic team, he was rarely called upon -- or at least, called upon far less often than his ardent UK supporters would've liked him to be. He made the team thanks to a late injury, and coach Mike Krzyzewski knew he didn't need him with a team of veterans on hand. Davis even famously forgot to put his jersey on before one game. Still, in Davis' flashes of play, he was at times the most entertaining player on the court.
And in the crucial final moments of the gold medal game, he was there. Spain was not going away, and had cut it to a two-possession game, when a shot was missed, and it was Davis who was there to bring it in -- a defensive rebound that won't make the highlight reels, but one that averted a possible disaster. People forget about Davis' rebounding. That's one they ought to remember.
And if he didn't carry an abundance of the water for this Olympic team, health willing, he'll be carrying a full share for the next one.
Beginning with his arrival on the UK campus about this time last year, I can't imagine a more splendid college basketball run than we've seen in this one year from Davis. Olympic gold was the only fitting way to cap it.
Thursday, April 24 2014 6:47 PM EDT2014-04-24 22:47:09 GMT
Eric Crawford profiles Larry Collmus, the new voice of the Kentucky Derby, who began calling races for his friends in his high school hallways, as he prepares for his debut as Churchill Downs' track announcer.More >>
Eric Crawford profiles Larry Collmus, the new voice of the Kentucky Derby, who began calling races for his friends in his high school hallways, as he prepares for his debut as Churchill Downs' track announcer. More >>
Thursday, April 24 2014 12:25 PM EDT2014-04-24 16:25:05 GMT
Rick Pitino added former Indiana assistant Kenny Johnson to his staff with an official announcement Wednesday, while adding that he'll bring former Cardinal David Padgett back to Louisville as an assistant video coordinator.More >>
Rick Pitino added former Indiana assistant Kenny Johnson to his staff with an official announcement Wednesday, while adding that he'll bring former Cardinal David Padgett back to Louisville as an assistant video coordinator. More >>
Monday, April 21 2014 12:31 PM EDT2014-04-21 16:31:28 GMT
After a WDRB story by Marcus Green described the Louisville Gardens as a facility in limbo, Eric Crawford says it's time for the city to do right by a building that has served many purposes in Louisville.More >>
After a WDRB story by Marcus Green described the Louisville Gardens as a facility in limbo, Eric Crawford says the community needs to do right by a building that has served it well. More >>