CHICAGO (MCT) — When the Hornets won the first pick in the NBA draft lottery, Anthony Davis received a quick text message from his Kentucky coach John Calipari proclaiming what a good omen it was.
“You won one national championship there,” it read. “Now go win a world championship.”
While Davis is hesitant to tag himself as the No. 1 overall pick in the June 28 draft, or make predictions, it seems like a certainty. He has a workout coming up in New Orleans and the Hornets are the only team that has contacted him.
The 6-foot-10 forward led the Wildcats to an NCAA tournament title in the Superdome as a freshman and is set to become the second Chicago native drafted first in the last five seasons after the Bulls’ Derrick Rose (Simeon).
Davis likely will continue a Kentucky legacy, becoming the second Wildcats player to be drafted first in three seasons (John Wall, Wizards, 2010).
Davis realizes his stature and Chicago roots carry great expectations.
“Chicago has great basketball players,” Davis said Thursday at the NBA predraft combine at the UIC Pavilion. “We all just work hard and love the game. I know a lot of kids are going to look up to me. I’m going to try to be a positive role model. A lot of little kids stand outside my house with a basketball and ask ‘Can I hoop in your backyard.’ “
He plans to remain in Chicago, where he already has made some new friends thanks to his stardom, for workouts.
“There are a lot of people who know me and say, ‘What’s up,’ “ he said. “Fans, I guess.”
After an astounding growth spurt in high school at Perspectives Charter and developing into the consensus national player of the year at Kentucky, the NBA shouldn’t be an overwhelming transition for him.
“I think it prepared me as well as (anybody) else,” he said. “Every game everybody wanted to come after us. I think it really helped me out a lot.”
Some have likened Davis, who originally played guard in high school, to Kevin Garnett because of his lanky frame, mid-range shooting ability and rebounding skills. Davis led the Wildcats with 14.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and 4.7 blocks per game.
A No. 1 selection won’t deter his work ethic.
He and his family have yet to select an agent for him. Davis responded seriously to a joke about whether he would fall to the Trailblazers, who pick sixth.
“It would make me feel very special about myself,” he said of being the first selection. “I still will continue to work hard and play hard. I just can’t wait to see how it turns out.”
Most are pretty sure where he will turn up.
The Hornets play in the setting of Davis’ favorite memory, where the Wildcats beat Kansas for the championship behind 16 rebounds and six blocks from Davis.
“New Orleans is great,” he said. “They’ve had a lot of downfalls. I’m going to try to help the city as much as I can.”
As far as his own development, he said, “The sky’s the limit.”