By Joe Henricksen
No matter what happens in tomorrow's action at the Nike Spring Showdown in Merrillville, the story of the weekend when the dust settles from a talent-filled weekend will be the sudden emergence of little-known Anthony Davis of Chicago Perspectives High School.
This is a story you just don't see very often (or ever?), especially with a player who plays in the Chicago Public League. This is a story of an unheard of player just six months ago vaulting into the top 10 players in the Class of 2011 with high-major talent and size. How can a player in the city fall through the cracks and be this anonymous?
First, he plays for Perspectives, a charter school that plays in the Chicago Public League's Blue Division with the likes of Juarez, Kelvyn Park and Wells. They didn't play anyone or anywhere that he could be seen. Second, he has not played on the AAU circuit until this spring, joining a solid Mean Streets team. His name began to emerge over the past couple of months, mostly because he's 6-10 with a ridiculous wingspan of over 7-feet that immediately draws some intrigue. But he's so much more than a 6-10 project.
You can't help but immediately draw up images of former Hales Franciscan late-bloomer JaVale McGee, who was widely overlooked at the prep level, blossomed at Nevada and turned himself into the No. 18 pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. Like McGee, Davis is as long as they come, very thin and in need of some added weight and strength. But ...
He's 6-10 and skilled. He has a soft face-up jumper that he knocks down from 12-15 feet and touch around the basket. He runs the floor exceptionally well -- as well as any big man and is fluid doing it. He is blessed with coordination, has good hands and outlets the ball well off defensive rebounds. He alters and blocks shots naturally on the defensive end and makes it so difficult for opposing players to get shots over. The strength issue is certainly a hurdle he will have to get over, which does impact his ability to finish around the basket against any type of physicality. Plus, this is the first time he's faced any high-level competition, so the speed of the game can at times catch up to him. But his talent, size, length and his absolutely bursting potential are so impressive.
This sharp, articulate prospect is about to get hit with a monsoon of college interest. He's hardly been seen by anyone in the college ranks and has only heard from seven or eight schools. Davis, who says Illinois State is the lone school to offer, had both Syracuse and Memphis come to his school last week, while DePaul, Xavier, Illinois and Bucknell have showed interest. Davis, who noted Memphis has always been one of his favorites, is solid academically and is set to be bombarded with recruiting interest.
The Hoops Report will have more from the Nike Spring Showdown early this week after play wraps up on Sunday.