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Anthony Davis insists he had many people influence his basketball career while he was growing up in Chicago, but no one probably inspired him to work on his game more than his older sister, Lesha.
Davis also has a twin sister, Antoinnette, who is 5-8. However, Lesha is 5-10 and plays basketball at Daley College in Chicago, where she puts the same skills to use that she previously used to beat her brother in one-on-one games.
“They have been a great influence and very supportive of my career,”Â Anthony Davis said. “My older sister and me, we are just like Reggie and Cheryl Miller. She used to always beat me, and that hurt. But now she can’t beat me. She really taught me a lot about basketball, though. My twin sister was very supportive, too. She went to all my games to support me as much as anyone could and I really love her and am thankful for that.
“They are big fans, but not bigger than my granddad. He is my No. 1 fan, but I would say my older sister taught me a lot about basketball.
“I have a lot of people that helped influence my career. I probably can’t name just one for doing the most because so many people really have influenced me. I have a great group of guys who helped me out in my whole basketball career. I can’t just point out one because a lot of people helped me. Some people only have one or two people to help them, but I am glad that I had multiple people to help me.
“Each one knew different aspects of the game, and that really helped with my career and got me to where I am now. But it was my sister who really hurt me the most when she beat me and made me probably work the hardest to get better.”
That work ethic that started when he was only a 6-2 point guard before growing over 6 inches taller his junior year to become a 6-10 center-power forward with ballhandling and shooting skills like a guard. What he still lacks is added bulk, something he is working on daily and he was up to 220 pounds in early September.
“I just worked hard in the weight room to gain weight. My biggest goal this year was to get stronger, and that is what I have been trying to do,”Â said Davis, a consensus high school All-American. “To play in the SEC, it is a big man’s conference and I will go against some big guys and I am trying to work hard in the weight room so I can battle with them.
“Hopefully I can outrun them and run the court and get a lot of easy baskets and fast breaks. I have to use that to my advantage. I know I will have length, have height and have my guard skills that I still have from when I was 6-2. I use that to my advantage to win games, too. But I have to get bigger and stronger.”
Davis averaged 32 points, 22 rebounds and seven blocked shots per game his final high school season when he was ranked among the nation’s top five players. He was named co-MVP of the Jordan Brand Classic in April when he had 29 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots playing against the nation’s top players. He also had 14 points, six rebounds and four blocks in the McDonald’s All-American Game.
He’s not sure if fans need to see him play in person or not to appreciate his overall skill level.
“I am not sure about that. A lot of people compare me to Kevin Durant (of the Oklahoma City Thunder), so they see I can handle the ball. I am guessing they know I can handle and a lot see my highlight tape and believe I can play,” he said. “I just play and not worry about what people say. I just have to go out and play my game and when people come, they will see what I can do. I just have to do my best and not worry about what people say or think.”
He’s made a believer out of John Calipari, who says even though he has not yet been allowed to coach Davis, he knows how exciting his play can be. He’s also not quite ready to compare Davis to Marcus Camby, the former NBA star who played for Calipari at Massachusetts and had a similar build to Davis.
“They’re two different guys. They both went through those spurts where they had guard skills. Marcus Camby was probably the best shot blocker in college basketball, maybe history. People don’t want to give it to him because he played at Massachusetts. But he was. I coached him. He made more of an impact on the program maybe in the history of college basketball,”Â Calipari said.
“Anthony is not quite as tall as him. He ended up being 6-11, almost 7-0 tall. His shot-blocking ability was crazy. Anthony can make 3s and has those skills. Physically, they had the same kind of body. I’ll be honest with you, Anthony is probably a little ahead, but Anthony is not as tall as him. Physically he’s ahead, skills shooting the ball he’s ahead. People forget, if he hadn’t gone to UMass, even with UMass he was the player of the year in the country. So just think about how good he was.”