Big Man on Campus

It seems like Anthony Davis has been sitting on top of the World for quite a while now. Davis may be the most coveted prospect to come out into the NBA draft since LeBron James in 2003. We’ve really never seen a combination of size and skill quite like this. Davis earned the highest honors of Naismith Player of the Year this past college basketball season and willed his team to a National Championship victory while scoring only six points.

Some have said that Davis was the best Freshman to ever walk on an NCAA floor. You would think that the highly coveted future NBA center would’ve received every possible accolade and high remark that he could possibly get by now. All of this after being a 6’3 guard not too long ago in High School. Its all but a guarantee that he’ll be the first pick in the 2012 NBA draft. He couldn’t possibly one up that, right?

That was the belief until SI’s Sam Amick reported that he was invited to the Team USA preliminary squad for the 2012 Summer Olyimpics. Technically, Davis won’t be able to join Christian Laettner as the only college player to be invited to team USA, but he’ll be the youngest by far to play for them if he makes it. This comes after Dwight Howard undergoes season ending back surgery that will put him out of action for at least four months and only weeks after Andrew Bynum notified the country that he would not be available because of offseason knee surgery that he will undergo.

Injuries have haunted some of the NBA’s brightest stars. This caused Jerry Colangelo, the chairman of USA basketball, to consider reopening the process to choose 20 finalists. Amick reports:

“We’ve said that the strength of the team is going to be athleticism, wing players, the backcourt, but we’ll see,” Colangelo told SI.com on Saturday. “We’re going to have to consider a lot of things. The good news is that so many people wish and desire to play that we will be very deep regardless of what happens here — unless there’s another rash of things happening here. I pray that it’s over.”

Derrick Rose recently tore his ACL on Saturday last week during a playoff game. That was the spark for Colagelo to reopen the process. Also, lets not forget about other potential candidates like Chauncey Billups and Lamarcus Aldridge suffered season ending injuries earlier in the year. The lockout seems to have had adverse effects on some of these players, which in turn hurts team USA.

Davis should definitely make the roster with his unique skill set. When you think of Team USA, you usually think about professional basketball players. My initial thoughts were that there were too many other worthy candidates for the position. Guys like Demarcus Cousins, Javale McGee, Roy Hibbert, and Al Jefferson were being left out. The more the skill set of Davis crossed my mind, the more I understood the move.

Davis brings a unique blend of size, speed, and quickness to the floor that little to no bigs in the NBA have to offer. He has great footwork and will be able to check many of the perimeter forwards that play Euro ball around the World. There are a lot of stretch fours in FIBA basketball and that’s an important aspect to think about. Many of the aforementioned centers in the NBA don’t have the footwork, quickness, or hand speed to check them. Davis showcased that he has these skills.

His offensive game doesn’t branch out as well as you’d like. He has a decent midrange jumper and doesn’t have a go-to post move yet. They don’t need another scorer on this team though; Coach K and crew tend to focus on defense when selecting their bigs at the center position. Davis is a defensive monster, as he averaged 4.7 blocks as a Freshman at Kentucky. He also added 14.2 points to that gaudy block number. Most of those points came at the rim, which should serve well with FIBA’s unique rules.

Davis seems to be the perfect fit for the Team USA roster. Hopefully he’ll make it and will have the experience of a lifetime playing with some great NBA talent.

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