Late bloomer becomes hot commodity
In this age where the Internet reigns supreme, middle-schoolers are being offered scholarships and coaches flock just about anywhere in hopes of discovering a big-time prospect, there are no more secrets.
Virtually no one flies under the radar these days.
Well, except for maybe Anthony Davis.
Just a few months ago, the 6-foot-9, 190-pound Davis was coming off a productive junior season at Perspectives Charter School in Chicago.
He was frustrated.
Despite hailing from one of the most prominent hoops hotbeds in the country and putting up impressive numbers, Davis had gone virtually unnoticed.
The lone scholarship offer came via Gary Waters' Cleveland State program.
"I wanted to commit," Davis said. "But my dad told me to wait."
Now, just a few months removed from anonymity, Davis has become the hottest commodity among the elite college basketball programs. Syracuse was the lone high-major school to watch him at his school back in April, but sight unseen didn't stop the big boys from offering scholarships.
"I'm enjoying it, but at the same time, it's become kind of stressful," Davis said. "It's just all come so fast."
Kentucky, Ohio State and plenty of others offered scholarships based primarily on word of mouth as Davis began to emerge in May and June as a can't-miss prospect.
"I remember when Von Wafer came out of nowhere in April and became a McDonald's All-American," Scout.com national recruiting director Dave Telep said. "That was fast. Anthony Davis literally went from being a wing a year ago to being a force as a power forward."
"He wasn't even on our radar for the Top 100 in early spring," added Telep, who has been covering the recruiting game for well over a decade. "Now, he's in serious consideration to be called the best prospect in the entire class."
Davis can do it all.
He is long, versatile, athletic and skilled. He can step out and make shots from the perimeter with ease and is equally able to score in the low post or by beating defenders off the dribble.
He can also dominate on the defensive end with his ability to control the glass and block and alter shots. Davis is unselfish and able to make his teammates better.
"There’s nothing he can't do," said one Division I head coach while watching Davis earlier this month down in South Carolina at a summer tournament. "I don’t know how the hell he stayed a secret for so long."
Anthony Davis Sr., and his wife sent their son to a small charter school with about 200 students back in the sixth grade.
Obviously, it wasn’t for basketball.
"We were concerned with all the bad things involved with the public schools," Davis Sr., said. "We didn't want Anthony around all that violence."
So Davis passed an entrance exam test and was accepted at Perspectives, where he has turned into a 3.4 student and also became a solid player early in his high school career.
But Davis wasn't anything out of the ordinary.
In fact, Davis began his sophomore season as a 6-foot-2 guard who he described as a "shooter who would come off screens."
At the conclusion of the year, he was a 6-foot-8 wing who was still anonymous.
"I wanted to transfer because I wasn't getting any looks," Davis said. "It was tough.”
Now, everyone is looking after he’s sprouted to nearly 6-foot-10 and has recently drawn comparisons from multiple college coaches to NBA star Kevin Durant.
"It's a big advantage for me because most big guys are slow or can't dribble," Davis said. "I have a guard skill set, so it's much easier for me to score."
"I knew sooner or later he’d be the No. 1 player in the country,” added Manuel Whitfield, his teammate at Perspectives. "The problem is that our school isn’t well-known, and that’s what has held him back.”
But it's more than just Davis' late growth spurt and the fact he was tucked away at an obscure Charter school. Davis' work ethic is matched by his coachable attitude — and now, he has the confidence and skills as well.
"It's ridiculous how much he's progressed," said Niles West High's Jevon Mamon, who has coached Davis this spring and summer with the Meanstreets program. "You could tell he was talented when we first saw him, but he just wants to get better. He keeps asking questions and works at it."
"It's not shocking to us," Davis Sr., said. "We knew he had the ability; he just needed the exposure."
That's no longer an issue for Davis, who narrowed the playing field to Syracuse, Kentucky and Ohio State prior to the start of the July recruiting period. North Carolina and other elite programs are trying to make their way into the equation, and Davis hasn’t ruled out the Tar Heels from expanding his list to four.
In the span of just a few short months, Davis' profile has risen higher, maybe, than anyone in recent memory.
He has come out of nowhere and has made a legitimate claim to the No. 1 player in the nation.
The refreshing aspect, though, is that he doesn't seem to care.
"It doesn't mean too much," Davis said. "It's nice for people to recognize that I've put the work in."
The accolades have come quickly — and it’s not about to stop.