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By LARRY VAUGHT
Reading that Dick Vitale thinks Anthony Davis is headed for NBA stardom is really no surprie. However, reading in ESPN The Magazine that Bobby Knight also praised Davis was something I did not expect.
Remember, Knight doesn’t say anything good about Davis, or Kentucky basketball. He can’t make himself do it. Yet take a look at what he said for the magazine story about Davis, the expected No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft.
“I’ll tell you exactly what Anthony Davis is — he’s a young Bill Russell … And Russell was by far, and will always be, the most valuable player ever in sport,” said Knight.
Never mind that back in March the same comparison was made by Jim Host when I did an interview with him during the NCAA tourney and Host went into greater depth to explain why he would compare a college freshman to one of the best basketball players of all time. And Host is not a hypocrite like Knight who is a better bully than college basketball analyst.
Vitale didn’t go quite that far. Instead, he compares him more favorably to San Antonio Spur standout Tim Duncan, the first pick in the 1997 draft who has made the Spurs an elite franchise.
“ New Orleans hopes that Kentucky’s Anthony Davis can do the same thing, helping the franchise become a big-time, consistent winner,” Vitale wrote on ESPN.com. “When I compare Duncan and Davis, I feel the former Wake Forest star entered the pros with a more refined offensive game; he had more scoring ability and skill. Davis comes into the league with more defensive ability, including the shot-blocking skills and timing that were so impressive in leading the Wildcats to a national championship. Both Duncan and Davis are class personified. They both came in to their respective situations showing that they would be great teammates.”
Vitale correctly notes there is no one else in this year’s draft like Davis, a similar situation to what there was in 1997.
“Davis is a shot-blocker who can dominate a game. I believe he will have a very special pro career. The drop-off from stardom after him is big,” Vitale wrote.