Anthony Davis: 6 Reasons Why He Is College Basketball's Player of the Year
When college basketball's season began in early November, the expectations for freshman Anthony Davis were high.
He was No. 2-rated high school player by Rivals, and a first-team high school all-American.
But it's still had to have been somewhat of a pleasant surprise to see how well things have played out.
Davis has separated himself as a front-runner for national player of the year, while remaining team-oriented with unselfish play and quality defense.
"Anthony is a tremendous shot blocker with great size and length. He can make 3-pointers, dribble the ball and he can get up and down the court faster than some of our guards because of his long, looping strides," Kentucky head coach John Calipari said of Davis.
"He's a different player than Marcus Camby, but he's physically ahead of where Marcus was to start his freshman season."
Quite the compliment.
There are others in the national player of the year mix: Thomas Robinson of Kansas is thought by many to be competing with Davis for the award.
ESPN analyst Doug Gottlieb believes that it comes down to "splitting hairs" between Robinson and Davis.
“My argument of why Thomas Robinson would be player of the year at this point is if you take him off of Kansas’s team, I’m not sure they make the NCAA tournament,” Gottlieb said.
“If you take Davis off Kentucky, it’s still a good team, still a top-25 team, and now they have a chance to win the championship.”
We, on the other hand, will examine six reasons why Davis is a clear-cut favorite over Robinson, or anyone else for that matter.
Kentucky Beat Kansas
In the head-to-head meeting between the players' respective teams, Anthony Davis and the Wildcats were able to walk away with the victory against Thomas Robinson and the Jayhawks.
Davis and Robinson did have one thing in common for this game; neither player led their team in scoring.
But compared to each other, Davis led Robinson in points, 14 to 11.
Outside of points, other stats are in Davis' favor for this critical matchup. He added seven blocked shots and two steals.
Robinson only had one block.
It should also be noted that Davis made more shots on fewer attempts, going 6-8 compared to Robinson's 5-12.
Rarely do you have two teams in different conferences who have national player of the year candidates who have played each other.
Well, this is one of those years, and Anthony Davis and company clearly proved their worth in that department.
One Loss That Isn't so Bad
It wasn't an easy game to watch. Well, the last five or so seconds anyway.
But this is another key reason as to why Anthony Davis is player of the year: he has been involved in zero bad losses.
Although Davidson is a solid up-and-coming mid-major who is likely NCAA tournament bound, losing to a team like Davidson in Kansas City is a bad loss for Kansas.
Thomas Robinson did lead Kansas with 21 points, but took several more shots than any player from either team, and at the end of the day, was outshone by Davidson's Nik Cochran.
No team will go undefeated in college basketball in the 2011-12 season.
With that being said, if Kentucky was going to lose, it might as well have been at the buzzer, on the road, to one of the most storied college basketball programs ever.
Kansas has several other losses including one to Missouri that Robinson was a non-factor in late, as the Tigers were able to come from behind and win.
If not for the rest of Anthony Davis' offensive feats, his shot blocking ability by itself is enough to make him a standout player.
Just how good of a shot blocker is he? He currently averages 4.8 blocked shots per-game, which is good enough for No. 1 in the NCAA.
And it's not just the quantity of blocks.
At the end of a huge non-conference showdown against North Carolina, Davis had a clean block with just seconds remaining as UNC shot for the win.
Davis was also able to break the Kentucky single-season record for blocked shots in just 19 games.
Only 33 teams in college basketball average more blocks in a game than Davis does.
His elite shot-blocking ability certainly factors in to his player of the year consideration.
Field Goal Percentage
All college basketball players want to try and define themselves as better shooters.
But in the case of the best players, using your high basketball I.Q. to put yourself in position to make high percentage shots will win out every time.
Notice in the video of the fall preseason game how Davis is able to position himself to receive the pass on many occasions, making it almost impossible for him to miss.
The kind of play will be key in his transition to the professional game, as scoring will not come easy. Or at least as easy as Davis might be able to make it look anyway.
Thomas Robinson is shooting 53 percent, but that is down 7 percent from a year ago.
Davis' coach John Calipari has an opinion on the situation.
"He has taken 200 less shots. That's a big number now. You're talking about averaging five more points a game, maybe six. The best thing for my team is to pass it more and get it less, and he is fine with that."
Triple-Crown of Awards Possible
Anthony Davis is in the running for the freshman of the year award, as well as defensive player of the year in addition to the national player title.
That's the possibility of three major awards—a triple-crown of college basketball, if you will.
Such a feat has never been accomplished in college basketball.
As we see from this video of Davis' defensive highlights through the game at Tennessee, his quick hands and constant focus makes him a huge asset without the ball.
Davis is currently now in the top 10 career blocks list for Kentucky.
Thomas Robinson's lack of defensive play has made Davis a hands-down winner head-to-head in this department.
Anthony Davis has amazing all around production, but here's where you'll hear the opposition.
Thomas Robinson fans will point out that Robinson averages a double-double.
And although Davis does not (barely, 9.8 rebounds-per-game), Robinson's role to his team, being a much more vital individual to Kansas' overall success, would be expected to produce high numbers in multiple categories.
Davis is able to produce his solid numbers while being a much more team-oriented player than Robinson.
Davis also nearly had a triple-double early this season.
Thomas Robinson has had an excellent season at Kansas, and will no doubt go on to the NBA and make some noise.
But with the kind of history he is making in such a short amount of time, Anthony Davis is having the kind of season that kids dream about.
Legacies can still be written in the NCAA tournament, but as far as the best players of the 2011-12 season go, Anthony Davis has shown that there really isn't any competition.