Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Kentucky standout demonstrates benefits of NBA age rule

In 2005, the NBA decided to raise its minimum age from 18 to 19. This rule change required everyone (except that one loop-holer, Brandon Jennings) to attend at least one year of college before entering the NBA Draft. At the time, this was a huge issue; some people argued against it, saying that ?ber-talented players could get injured during their year of college basketball, and then miss out on the opportunity to make a fortune while playing professionally. The other side of the coin says younger guys aren’t physically or mentally mature enough to live the NBA life, both on and off the court.

Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis is a perfect representative of why the rule change was a good move. Davis left his Chicago high school as a raw, gangly, unibrowed big man, a perfect recipe for someone who would not be able to make the adjustment from high school ball to the NBA. We saw it happen so many times in the early 2000s that we all knew the story: an 18 year-old gets eaten alive by the tougher competition, doesn’t develop his game properly, and within a couple years has been labeled as a bust (See: Brown, Kwame).

It’s clear that Davis won’t go down the same career path, especially after thriving on a team full of future pros (at least four besides Davis, by my count). Kentucky is the top-ranked team in the nation, and Davis is their unquestioned statistical leader. He paces his team in points, rebounds, steals, blocks and also leads with 11 double-doubles. The common belief is that the Naismith Award for the best NCAA basketball player will go to either Davis or Thomas Robinson, a junior from Kansas.

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What separates Davis from other dominant young big man is his defensive presence around the hoop. Most players in the NBA have a niche, whether it’s spot-up shooting, rebounding or distributing the ball. If you had to choose one of Davis’ skills that will translate well to the NBA, it would have to be his ability to block shots. Davis currently leads the nation with 4.9 blocks a game, and he recently topped former LSU standout Shaquille O’Neal’s record for blocks in one season by an SEC freshman (in eight fewer games, no less).

What’s even better is that Davis’ numbers aren’t a product of padding his stats against bad teams. In the Wildcats’ four games against ranked opponents (all wins), Davis has averaged 13.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.8 blocks, including a 14-6-7 line in a dominant win over Robinson and the Jayhawks.

At this point there isn’t much more for Davis to prove on the college level. He’s faced some of the best of his peers and come out on top each time. Davis’ first (and probably last) year of college basketball has helped him harness his freakish athleticism and unparalleled talent, to the point where he’ll probably be selected first overall in a VERY deep 2012 NBA Draft. While there is a decent chance he would have been a high draft pick right out of high school, there’s no way his game would have been as fine-tuned as it will be after this one season. He’s flourished while playing the best athletes college basketball has to offer, and has now proven he is ready for the NBA.

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