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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers began their first full day as pros together on Hornets owner Tom Benson’s private plane. They flew from New Jersey to New Orleans, where the two 19-year-olds will be expected to ignite the turnaround of an NBA franchise before they’re even old enough to participate fully in the Big Easy’s renowned night life.
They aren’t giving themselves much time to party anyway. Their plan is to remain in New Orleans and work out together at the Hornets’ training center until Davis, the top pick in Thursday night’s draft, has to leave for Team USA tryouts on July 5. If there’s time, they might even find places to live. Rivers will get ready for Las Vegas summer league later in the month.
Davis, who has dealt with the pre-draft hype that goes with being the consensus No. 1 pick, seemed relieved that chapter of his life was over, and that he could start focusing on getting ready to compete against the best basketball players in the world.
“I just wanted to get everything out of the way, step on the court and not have to worry about anything else,” Davis said Friday after his formal introduction and photo op at the New Orleans Arena.
Davis, who stands nearly 6-foot-11 and, as Benson noted with a smile, might still be growing, has been working on adding bulk with a trainer in California. The former Kentucky star affectionately nicknamed “the unibrow” said he now weighs 230 pounds, and lists his training goals as getting bigger, improving his conditioning and refining the skills he’ll need to become a premier NBA big man.
“Guys do this for a living and now I’ve got the opportunity to do it as well, so I’ve got to make sure I’m ready,” Davis said.
Shortly after the pair arrived in New Orleans, they made their first community appearance at Hornets forward Jason Smith’s basketball camp. Davis’ parents, Anthony Sr. and Eranier made the trip, as did Rivers’ mother, Kris, and his sister, Callie.
Hornets coach Monty Williams and general manager Dell Demps said that when New Orleans wound up with the first and 10th overall picks in the draft lottery, they knew they would take Davis first and wanted Rivers at No. 10. They have stressed, however, that they do not want to put too much pressure on the teenage rookies to vault the Hornets up the standings right away.
“I think coach does a great job taking pressure off of guys,” said Davis, who joins a team that went 21-45 last season.
Davis said he hopes trying out and possibly playing for Team USA at the London Games accelerates his development.
“Playing with the superstars in this league — it’ll be a great opportunity for me,” Davis said. “They’ll show me the ropes, show me things I’ve never seen before. … I just can’t wait to learn from them.”
When Davis returns to New Orleans, he’ll have a chance to continue playing with his former Kentucky teammate, small forward Darius Miller, who was picked by New Orleans in the second round, 46th overall.
“I was ecstatic. He’s a great player,” Davis said of Miller, whom he was close with at Kentucky. “It’s fun playing with him and I think he can really help this organization.”