Could you hit a free throw if Anthony Davis was standing over your shoulder?
That's the sort of pressure that plenty of young local basketball players had to deal with Friday afternoon as they took part in the Anthony Davis Basketball Camp at Lexington Christian Academy. Davis, the former Wildcat of 2012 NCAA championship fame turned perennial NBA All-Star, told reporters during the camp that he was excited to be back in Lexington and "of course the kids are happy" just to be in the camp.
"I think the parents are a little bit more happy," Davis said with a smile. "Just for the fact that they were able to witness what happened here in 2012. The kids probably wasn't old enough yet to really realize what happened."
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During his time with reporters, Davis reminisced often on the 2012 championship, talked about the bond between former UK stars now in the NBA and swore that he would never even joke about shaving his unibrow again.
"I got a lot of criticism for faking it," Davis said of his April Fool's Day prank where he told the internet that he'd shaved his trademarked facial feature.
The 2012 championship
After six seasons in the NBA, Davis said UK's last national championship win feels like so long ago, but "when you see the pictures, and you see the trophy, it makes it feel like it was yesterday."
Davis attributed much of their success that year to sacrifice and mentorship from much more experienced players.
"We didn't expect to lose any games that year," Davis said. "We had a lot of guys on our team that was seniors and sophomores and it helped us freshmen to kind of move along a little bit quicker. We were a tight-knit group."
According to Davis, Darius Miller, a senior that year and now one of Davis' NBA teammates in New Orleans, told the team that he wanted win one before he left. With the NBA lockout the summer before, Davis said the team benefited tremendously from playing against pro players in practice.
"Playing against those NBA guys was huge for us, and every single one of those guys told us that we were going to be special that year," Davis said. "And when we were beating those guys, we knew that if we could beat NBA players, we definitely could beat anybody in college."
UK players in the NBA
This year's Pelicans squad featured Davis and four other former Wildcats — including Miller, DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo and DeAndre Liggins. According to Davis, all of the Kentucky guys have a brotherly bond in the locker room.
"We talk a lot of trash," Davis said.
"We got a great bond no matter what year you played. We got Rondo who played in '97...," Davis said of the NBA veteran, who last played at UK in 2006. "No, I'm just kidding, but we're always try to make sure that Rondo is the old guy."
Even if they're playing on different teams, Davis said that fellow UK players try their best to "beat up on each other."
"It's like a brotherhood, you know you want to beat up each other when you playing against the other guy on the opposite team," Davis said. "You know like Minnesota or Phoenix has a lot of Kentucky guys as well. You want to beat up on them, but off the floor — we very tight."
Coach Cal and UK fans
During his current stay in Lexington, Davis said he'd already had an "amazing" meet-up with UK Coach John Calipari.
"Cal calls me all the time," Davis said. "I don't call him as much unless I need him, but anytime we do talk for an extended period of time — we love seeing each other."
Davis said that Calipari told him that he "got some heat" after not delivering a championship these past few years, but "they expect championships and if you don't provide that it can get tough." He said he was glad that he didn't have to experience much losing and that his winning season will seemingly be forever immortalized with the new "pretty dope" mural on Nicholasville Road.
Davis said that there is no other sport in the state of Kentucky that is at the level of fandom of UK basketball — "besides Louisville, but they're not that good."
He hasn't gotten a chance to see next year's team and said that he probably won't be able to, but he still took the opportunity to give some advice to the incoming Cats.
"Come here, have fun. You got to trust Coach Cal. He knows what he's talking about," Davis said. "Go in with the mindset of being unselfish, sacrificing and having the ultimate goal, which is winning number nine."