He got off to a slow start in the capitalistic world of marketing, but Anthony Davis is catching up quickly.
Davis, the presumed top pick Thursday in the NBA Draft, didn’t hire an agent until recently, when he finally settled on Arn Tellem with Wasserman Group. The weeks without representation cost him multiple endorsement deals after winning the national championship at Kentucky.
Of course, Davis has plenty of time to make it all back. He took the first step recently, when he trademarked the phrases “Fear the Brow” and “Raise the Brow” in connection with his now-famous unibrow.
“I don’t want anyone to try to grow a unibrow because of me and then try to make money off of it,” Davis told CNBC. “Me and my family decided to trademark it because it’s very unique.”
So is Davis’ skill set. He has the ball skills of a guard because he was 6-foot-3 until he grew seven inches during his junior year. Suddenly the 6-3 guard was a 6-10 power forward. He measured 6-10½ in shoes at the NBA combine and is the surest bet in this draft to reach stardom.
He led the nation in blocks (4.65 per game) and set school, SEC and NCAA single-season records for blocks by a freshman (186). He earned Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year awards in the SEC and was a nearly unanimous choice for National Player of the Year. He led the Wildcats in scoring (14.2 points), but he was the fifth-leading shot taker on the team for most of the season.
“I asked the question to my team, ‘What do you do to help us win when you’re not making shots?’?” Kentucky coach John Calipari said during the Final Four. “Think about him. He’s a great passer. We’ve let him expand on our offense. He listened and bought in.”
Davis’ offensive game is still a work in progress and far behind his defensive ability. His guard skills are still evident, allowing him to run the floor with tremendous ease and agility.
He can play center or forward, although he’ll probably spend most of his time at forward. He doesn’t have the body strength yet to combat some of the league’s centers and will struggle enough against many of the power forwards. But in time, Davis will be a star that the New Orleans Hornets can pair with Eric Gordon and the No. 10 pick in this draft to form the new nucleus for years to come.
“If I keep working hard, playing hard and doing what I have to do to make my team win,” Davis said at the combine, “the sky is the limit.”
He grew up patterning his game after some of the NBA’s best guards, but following his ridiculous growth spurt, he needed new mentors. Now Davis is most often compared to Kevin Garnett, who is contemplating retirement after a sparkling 17-year career in which he amassed more than 24,000 points and 13,000 rebounds and won a championship.
The soft-spoken Davis is typically bland in what he says, but he created a stir when he called out Kobe Bryant shortly before the combine during a radio interview. Asked on The Dan Patrick Show whom he was anxious to face, Davis chose Bryant.
“He’s a monster,” Davis said. “I just want to go out there and play my hardest. There’s a lot of guys that can’t stop Kobe, so if I stop him, I could be one of the guys that say, ‘I shut Kobe down.’?”
When asked about his comments at the combine, Davis laughed.
“I knew you were going to ask that,” he said. “I didn’t call Kobe out. They asked who I would like to play in the league against and who would I like to shut down. Kobe is one of the greatest players who ever played the game. If you want to be great, you have to face the greats. Since he’s a great player, I’d like to play against him and see how I test. He’s a legend of the game and I’d never disrespect him.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sports.abj.