Van Coleman of Hoopmasters.com, who along with Bob Gibbons of All-Star Sports has spent more than 30 years evaluating high school basketball players from coast to coast, is one of two recruiting analysts who has rated 6-10 Anthony Davis of Chicago Perspectives as the No. 1 prospect in the nation.
Scout recently moved Davis to its No. 1 spot. Gibbons, Rivals and ESPN also are impressed with Davis' rapid rise to stardom but are less enthusiastic, choosing to rate him no higher than No. 2 and no lower than No. 6. Not bad under any circumstances for a youngster who had no reputation at all as recently as last April.
But Coleman has observed Davis on more than a few occasions and insists that he deserves the elite standing--and, based on his huge upside, could be even better.
Why is Davis No. 1? What separates him from all others?
"His ability to affect the game on both ends of the court," Coleman said. "He has face-up four-man skills (arc to the rim), including the ball skills he developed as a 6-4 wing man than he now uses as a 6-10 power forward. Add to that his ability to take over the game on the glass and offensively he can dominate with or without the ball.
"He is a shot-blocking machine (he had 15-plus blocks on two or three occasions I watched him). He has an immense upside physically that makes his rise even more intriguing. He should see similar game development in college. He is more advanced at this stage offensively than Derrick Favors (a top five NBA rookie from Georgia Tech) and has a much higher ceiling offensively."
Coleman said he could only think of two other players whose explosion to national prominence could be compared to Davis--Shaquille O'Neal and Tracy McGrady.
"O'Neal was a 6-7, 225-pound mid-major prospect in his junior summer when I saw him at the BCI in Phoenix," Coleman recalled. "Then he grew almost five inches and added 20-plus pounds to blossom into a 7-foot, 250-pound man-child the next summer and went from a player who didn't rank among the top 250 in the country to a top five player over one summer.
"McGrady was a different situation, not related to growth or sudden emergence. He just had never been seen. No one knew about him until he exploded into a top five player with his performance at the ABCD camp."
Coleman rates Davis among the top five to 10 pure inside athletes he has seen, in a class with the 6-9 McGrady, 6-11 Dwight Howard, 6-9 Josh Smith, 6-10 Kevin Durant, 6-10 Anthony Cade, 6-9 Blake Griffith, 6-10 Sean Kemp, 6-8 Leon Powe, 6-9 Glenn Robinson, 6-9 Amare Stoudemire, 6-10 Alonzo Mourning and 6-9 Chris Webber in terms of bounce and quickness. But he insists that Howard is "probably the top pure athlete" he has ever seen.