CHICAGO – Former Kentucky forward Anthony Davis has a reputation of not getting excited about much. He does, however, perk up every time he gets text messages from his likely new boss – New Orleans Hornets coach Monty Williams.
Williams has traded texts with Davis since the Hornets won the NBA's draft lottery and the chance to take Davis with the No. 1 pick. Williams and Davis planned to eat dinner together and watch the East finals Thursday at the league's predraft camp.
Davis' Kentucky Wildcats won the national championship at the Final Four in New Orleans in April. He has some family members in the city who are excited for his arrival. Also ecstatic are Hornets fans, who suddenly have hope for a brighter future after New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson agreed to buy the franchise. Davis is still learning about the Hornets and the "Big Easy,” but he knows about Williams.
"I know they work hard every night under Coach," Davis said. "It’s a great place to play."
Davis plans to hire an agent in a couple weeks. He expects to also visit New Orleans soon. Williams didn’t offer an official commitment to draft Davis, but no one expects the Hornets to pass on the talented forward.
"I’ve been watching film," Williams said. "He’s athletic. Great hands. Runs the floor. His passing is better than I thought. He’s just going to get better, and the more he works he will get better. He’s a young player who has never played the NBA game, but he’ll get stronger, better.
"He has fewer concerns than anyone in the draft. He’s just a good, high-character kid. Family means a lot. He’s excited about this whole process. I told him to enjoy it."
Davis won’t believe he is a Hornet until he hears NBA commissioner Davis Stern say it on draft night. "A lot of people say I’m going to New Orleans, but June 28 has not come yet," Davis said. "I will still be nervous on draft night. I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time."
Davis was listed at 220 pounds last season, but says he has gained 15 pounds of muscle since season’s end. Under the direction of Kentucky assistant coach Kenny Payne, former Wildcats student manager Will Martin is putting Davis through two-hour workouts five days per week. Martin said the workouts consist of conditioning, agility and shooting drills.
Davis believes his need to add strength will likely put his defense ahead of offense early in his career.
"It’s going to take a couple of years to develop and play the way I want to play," he said. “But I will make an immediate impact defensively. I need to make an impact defensively to help the team win. I don’t want to be offensive-minded. I’m not thinking about scoring."
Davis has a legitimate shot of making the U.S. Olympic team because of the Team USA's need for size. Dwight Howard and LaMarcus Aldridge are out because of injuries, leaving Davis, Kevin Love, Tyson Chandler, Chris Bosh, Lamar Odom and Blake Griffin as options.
USA Basketball has until July 7 to decide on a final roster. Odom and Griffin are going to Durham, N.C., in late June to work out with head coach Mike Krzyzewski. USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo said Davis would help his chances of making the team if he also worked out with Krzyzewski.
"There are stories about Anthony Davis being a long shot. That’s not how it should be portrayed," Colangelo said. "Time will tell."
Davis could become the first college player to make the U.S. Olympic team since Christian Laettner since 1992.
"I think I can make it," Davis said. "I got to show them I’m in shape and ready to work. Even if I don’t make the team, it will be fun. But being with those guys would give me a leg up on the rest of the guys coming into the league."
• Michael Silver: Players earned cash incentives for hits during Saints playoff win
• Former NFL player Wade Davis comes out of the closet, helps others
• Kevin Iole: Trainer Freddie Roach owes Hall of Fame career to Manny Pacquiao