NEW ORLEANS – On his way to being the No. 1 pick in June's NBA draft, Anthony Davis Jr. stopped to hug his mom and dad.
He found them 10 rows from the court where he'd just led the Kentucky Wildcats to their eighth national championship. To reach them, he had to step over a gate and hurdle a few rows of chairs, all while pushing through a throng of UK fanatics, each wanting to offer their own congratulatory high-five.
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When he finally got there, his dad, Anthony Davis Sr., grabbed him in a bear hug and, unsuccessfully fighting back tears, said, "Congratulations. You deserve everything you got."
Next up is the NBA, and in his final audition Davis turned in the kind of performance that was, well, bewildering.
He scored just six points and made only 1-of-10 shots in the Wildcats' 67-59 victory, yet he still likely improved his draft stock. That's because Davis did everything else. He grabbed rebounds (16), blocked shots (six), dished the ball (five assists) and played killer defense (three steals). In a sport where most scorers live and die by the shots they make and miss, Davis was the most impactful player on the court despite not scoring a single point in the first half.
"I knew I was struggling," Davis said. "So I told them, 'I'm going to defend and rebound, you all make all the points.' That's what they did tonight."
After missing his first three shots to start the second half, he didn't force many – if any – more shots. He let Doron Lamb (22 points) and Marquis Teague (14 points) carry the offensive load while he resolved to do the dirty work.
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"About a month ago, I looked at them all and said, 'Tell me what you do to help us win when you're not scoring the ball,' " Kentucky coach John Calipari said. "You saw today with him."
It goes back further than that, though. Anthony Sr. always told his son to treat the court as if he was showing up for a job. "You go to work," the father urged his son. "Either offensive or defensive, you do your job and everything's going to work out for you."
He learned the game by going to the gym with his uncle, and after just one year of college ball, he is poised to take a freakishly long list of talents to the NBA. Looking at him, you'd never know it. He's young – really young (19) – a bit lanky and has a sort of Wally Cleaver awe-shucks quality about him. But what he lacks in physical power he makes up for with scatback quickness and a tenacity that just won't quit.
And the best part, if you're the Charlotte Bobcats or whoever ends up with the No. 1 pick, that size thing will work itself out.
"It's unbelievable," Anthony Sr. said of the likelihood that his son will be the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft. "Words don't describe it. I'm just so proud. The family is just going to try to absorb all this in and enjoy the ride."
More NCAA tournament coverage on the Yahoo! network:
• Kentucky saw guard Doron Lamb's big night coming ahead of time
• Video: The Fray's dreadful national anthem | The Fray on Y! Music
• Y! Sports Radio: Kentucky's Darius Miller 'feels amazing' after win