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Jim Host says Anthony Davis could be greatest defensive player ever, even better than legendary Bill Russell

Anthony Davis swats an LSU shot Friday. (Victoria Graff photo)

Anthony Davis swats an LSU shot Friday. (Victoria Graff photo)


For those still trying to figure out how Anthony Davis should rank on the list of all-time players to play at Kentucky, pay close attention to Jim Host and what he has to say.

Host has been involved with UK sports since 1954 and was recently named to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. He says Davis easily in the best defensive player he’s seen at Kentucky. However, he doesn’t stop there.

“I have never seen a better defensive player period other than Bill Russell. I think Bill Russell is acknowledged as being the best of all time, but I think this guy has a chance to be the greatest of all time,” Host said.

Russell, of course, was the legendary center for the Boston Celtics who dominated games with his defense and rebounding. He was not the offensive force of some centers, but his defense made him the NBA’s most dominant defender. Being compared to him by Host is special.

“He has to put on more weight and be able to stand more physical abuse than he has been taking and as the season has progressed they have all abused him more, but he still has a chance to be the greatest of all time. Russell was the greatest of all time as a defensive basketball player, but this kid could surpass him,” Host said.

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  1. King Ghidora

    That’s pretty high praise from a guy who’s seen a lot of the UK greats. I’ve never seen a better defensive player at UK and it’s possible he’s the best player ever at UK. There are some great choices in that mix but they all stayed 4 years. Davis has dominated in his first year while most of the true UK greats never even played as a freshman. I’m talking guys like Issel, Groza, Beard, Ramsey and Hagan. Bowie might have been on that list if not for the injuries. Dampier was very close. It’s been a long time since those guys played but they dominated the game when they did. Groza was a POY. Issel might have been if not for a guy named Pete. I’d love to see what AD could accomplish in 4 years but that’s just not how things work these days. Right now I’d say AD has the potential to be UK’s best ever and he’s close to getting there just in one year. That’s amazing.

  2. King Ghidora

    BTW I watched Russell play hundreds of times on tv. He was a great defensive player but his offense was not so hot. AD already is above Bill’s level on that end of the floor.

    1. larryvaught

      Russell was so good defensively, few ever worried about his offense

  3. TrueBlueJohn

    I totally agree with Jim Host’s comments. I watched a lot of Celtics games back during the 50’s & 60’s, and Anthony Davis is the best at blocking shots and keeping the ball in play since Bill Russell. The trait that they both have in common was the number of shots that they alter. While Davis is probably as equally good defensively, there will be no comparison offensively especially in a couple of years. Davis already has more offensive skills than Bill Russell ever had.

  4. hawaiibillT

    The way the game is played today its going to be hard to fairly compare the two. Russell clogged the middle but with the way teams play today Davis wont see the middle as much as Russell did. Davis has the edge outside and Russell inside. I would like to see Davis take on a Wilt type true center. Might be a surprise block lurking there.

  5. Richard

    Jim Host may have a point ANTHONY DAVIS IS A UNIQUE TALENT however i would not quite put him in the catageory of BILL RUSSELL, he plays a lot like Russell. Davis should stay at UK another year or two win one or two more national titles. If he runs to the NBA (which i do NOT LIKE ) he’ll play for a LOUSY TEAM and he might not be as effective as russell, remember Bill Russell was the final piece in the championship puzzle for the Boston Celtics. Stay in school, do you really want to play for a team as lousy as the Charlotte bobcats? UK could KILL THEM !!!! STAY AT UK !

  6. LindaS

    Richard, looked what happened to Wall, I think you have a very good point. However, Davis should leave, get his $ and not get hurt at UK. People have been aiming for him all year and many times I thought he was hurt. He does need a few pounds and I know he is the best I have seen in a long time. He just leaves me speechless with my mouth hanging open. Go Cats!

  7. coldspringmike

    Richard, I think they ALL should stay. Just a thought

  8. bryan mceuen

    Dag gone it!!! i wish they would put a stop to this one and done deals its ruining college basketball. put a max of 3 years.

    1. larryvaught

      just a way of life for now Bryan. Just glad Cal figured out how to work the system so well

  9. TrueBlueJohn

    The logical thing to do is for the NBA to institute the baseball rule. Let a kid sign right out of high school if he is good enough, but if he signs a letter of intent, he is there for three years.

  10. steve

    ants is good enough he does not have to go chasing bill russell’s legacy. hell, i remember people comparing perry stevenson with bill russell. i also remember alan cutler’s “mark my words” rodrick rhodes will be better than jamal mashburn. too much talk.

  11. Richard

    people see a potentially great player and say he’s the next Jordan or Russell, or the next Larry Bird. remember when they said in 1999 that Marvin stone was going to be the “best big man ever at UK”…….we all know how that turned out

  12. LindaS

    RIP Marvin Stone, I liked him. How sad.

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