National player of the year Anthony Davis isn’t giving away whether he and four teammates from national champion Kentucky will declare for the NBA Draft at a news conference Tuesday.
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But with the possibility that all of his starters could leave college early, coach John Calipari said: ”My guess is we’ll need a new batch.”
Kentucky announced Monday that Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague, Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb will make their intentions known at a news conference in Lexington, Ky., on Tuesday. Davis was in Oklahoma City on Monday night to pick up the Wayman Tisdale Award as the nation’s top freshman.
The 6-foot-10 power forward also won The Associated Press, Naismith and Wooden awards for national player of the year and is considered the likely No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft this June — if he decides to enter.
”You’ve got to wait. It’s only a day away, a couple hours,” Davis told reporters before the ceremony. ”We’re doing it as a team. We thought it would be great to do it as a team to show how much we like each other and how much of a team we are and how we did it to win a national championship.”
There’s little more that Davis could accomplish basketball-wise by sticking around for another season with the Wildcats, other than duplicating his performance in leading Kentucky to its eighth national championship.
”You couldn’t really ask for much more. It was every college player’s dream to come in and win a national championship, player of the year, freshman of the year and everything,” he said.
”I’m just grateful and thankful to my parents, my coaching staff, my teammates, everyone who helped me out to get to this point.”
Davis said he had always hoped to be a Division I prospect, and that became a reality when he grew half a foot late in his high-school career to transform from a 6-3 guard into a shot-blocking interior presence.
He hadn’t envisioned himself with the possibility of being a candidate to enter the draft this early.
”I never actually thought about it like that,” Davis said. ”I just always went out there and played basketball. I always played for my team. I always deferred to my team because it’s a team sport. No one player can win the game by himself.
”I never even thought about, ‘OK, I can leave early if I keep playing this well.’ ”
And now, he could go from unwanted high school player to the first player taken in the draft in just a couple years.
”It’d be crazy. Like I said, I never expected any of this to happen,” Davis said. ”If that happens to happen, it would be a great opportunity.”
Davis said he’s sure Calipari ”would love it if the whole team would stay.” That doesn’t mean he’ll get his wish.
”We thought it would be nice — cool — to do it together,” he said.
Calipari already has started bringing in his next crop of top talent, including highly regarded prospect Nerlens Noel only a few days ago, in hopes of turning another young group into big-time winners.
”It’s really unusual but what happens is they were all raised right,” Calipari said. ”In the recruiting process, none of them were promised minutes and starting positions and shots. … None of these kids were recruited that way, so now they come in with an idea they’re going to earn it and they’re going to do this together and if they do it together, they’ve got a chance. Then you start the coaching process.”
Calipari said he’s glad to see the whole starting lineup make Tuesday’s announcement together because ”it shows it wasn’t fake, it was real.”