#1 Anthony Davis

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The Most Impactful Kentucky Wildcats Basketball Players (1981-82-Present): #1 Anthony Davis

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 #1 Anthony Davis

2011-12

Chicago, Illinois (Perspectives Charter School)

They say all good things must come to an end, and this list of the Most Impactful Kentucky Wildcats Basketball Players from the 1981-82 season to the present is no different.  The #1 Most Impactful Kentucky Wildcats Basketball Player in the last 30 years is Anthony Davis.  Practically everyone knows the back story of Anthony Davis’ high school basketball career, of how Anthony Davis was a guard with only one division one scholarship offer, from Cleveland State, as of his sophomore year in high school.  By the time his junior season started, he had grown to 6’8, and then by his senior year, he had grown to 6’10”.  Davis was listed as the #1 rated recruit in the nation despite being on a high school team that won less than ten games in both his junior and senior seasons.  Davis averaged 32 points, 22 rebounds, and 7 blocks per game in high school.  Davis picked the University of Kentucky over DePaul, Ohio State, and Syracuse.  In the week before Davis committed to becoming a Wildcat, a Chicago Sun Times report came out citing that a “reliable source” had said that Davis’ father wanted $200,000 in exchange for his son signing with UK. Davis’ father commented on the story by saying “We haven’t asked anyone for anything, and no one has offered us anything”.  The story was later taken out of publication by the Chicago Sun Times due to the threat of legal actions being taken for the false reporting.  But anyways, let’s move on to Anthony Davis’ time at the University of Kentucky.  Earlier in this series of most impactful players, I had asked the question of what didn’t Darius Miller do in his time at UK, but I feel like the question applies to Anthony Davis’ freshman and only season as a Wildcat.  Anthony Davis had many honors going into his freshman year at UK, including being an ESPN All-American, McDonald’s All-American, Parade All-American, Jordan Brand Classic All-American, USA Today All-American, and won the Co-MVP in the 2011 Jordan Brand Classic.

Davis’ freshman year at the University of Kentucky was one for the history books as he led the Wildcats to the National Championship game, dominating on both the offensive and defensive sides of the court night in and night out.  Davis averaged 14.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 4.7 blocks per game in his one season as a Wildcat, breaking multiple records along the way.  Davis shot just under 63% from the field and 71% from the free throw stripe, but is still refining his offensive skill set, including his outside shooting.  Davis broke the record for most blocks in one season for an SEC player, most blocks in a season by a freshman, most blocks by any UK player in a single season, and swept nearly every single award you can think of, including 2012 Consensus First Team All-American, National Freshman of the Year, National Defensive Player of the Year, Oscar Robertson Trophy, Adolph Rupp Trophy, Naismith Award, AP Player of the Year, John R. Wooden Award, Sporting News Player of the Year, SEC Player of the Year, SEC Freshman of the Year, SEC Defensive Player of the Year, All-SEC First Team, All-SEC Defensive Team, All-SEC Freshman Team, All-SEC Tournament Team, 2012 Final Four Most Outstanding Player, All NCAA Regional Team, and was a National Champion.  Davis was the number 1 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft to the New Orleans Hornets, and sprained his ankle a few days later or else would have a spot on the 2012 Olympic Team, and might still have a spot on that team, depending on how bad the injury is.

There was no player that has every played in a University of Kentucky uniform that impacted the game the way Anthony Davis did.  However, Davis wasn’t just impactful on the court, as he was the face of the University and his unibrow was a nation-wide trend.  Everywhere you went, you could find Anthony Davis shirts with phrases such as “Fear the Brow” and “Bow to the Brow”, and my personal favorite, a shirt that had an outline of Davis’ hair and unibrow with a simple 23 being used as the bottom part of his head.  Having Davis as a part of the 2011-2012 Kentucky Wildcats left my repeating the same phrase over and over again, that it just wasn’t fair to everyone else in the nation.  His extremely long arms, freakish growth spurt, to go along with the athleticism of a guard is something that college basketball fans had never seen before and for all of these reasons and more, Anthony Davis is #1 on our list of the Most Impactful Kentucky Wildcats Basketball Players from the 1981-82 Season to the Present.