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By LARRY VAUGHT
If Blake Griffin had not been injured, Anthony Davis would be playing in Las Vegas with the New Orleans Hornets summer-league team instead of being in Europe on the USA Olympic team. He would have been playing more and learning coach Monty Williams’ style, but he knows he’ll learn even more on the USA team.
“I am talking to coach Williams and watching summer league games. I am checking what they are doing and what I need to do and how I will have to adjust when I get with the Hornets,” Davis said Monday in a telephone interview from Barcelona. “I am telling him what I think about this opportunity and what we need to get better at.
“I am going to come in with an advantage that most rookies are not going to have just by being around these guys. They’re teaching me what to do and what not to do. It gives me a great advantage going into the season. These guys are teaching me to play the game on a different level. They laugh and joke and have fun. But when they step between the lines, they’re different players. They’re animals out there. I learned that pretty quick.”
USA basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo is a Davis backer.
“He’s a terrific young player,” Colangelo told USA Basketball. “He might not play now, but who knows? In 2016, 2020, he might be on the team down the road. Having a chance to compete with these players, he will probably want to come back. He could be an important piece for the future.”
That would certainly suit Davis, especially since he feels former UK teammates Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb, Marquis Teague and Darius Miller could blossom into potential 2016 Olympic players along with former UK stars like John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Brandon Knight.
“We have the world championships in 2014 and Olympics again in 2016. I could play on both those teams. So could other Kentucky guys,” Davis said. “All of us are very talented players. I don’t see why there couldn’t be a lot of Kentucky guys on future teams unless they change the rules (with no player over 23 allowed) in the future.”
Davis says he is working now to make sure his family can attend the Olympics.
“It will be a great experience for them. They have never been to London, either,” he said. “I am anxious just to get to the Olympic Village and get a chance to be around all the other athletes. I want to see what the Olympics are all about, have fun and win the gold medal.”
Davis played against UK coach John Calipari in the exhibition win over the Dominican Republic — the team Calipari almost led to the Olympics — and the coach told him he would also be in London.
“He told me just to have fun and it would be great to see me in London,” Davis said. “A lot of the guys on the team are supporting me. It’s great to know they are still there for me.”
His new teammates have been just as encouraging as Kidd-Gilchrist, Teague, Jones, Lamb or Miller were last season at UK.
“Everyone on the team talks to me and gives me great advice about what I should have done if I mess up or pats me on the back when I do a good job,” Davis said. “They’ve been a huge help every day, just like the guys were last season.”