Former University of Kentucky star Anthony Davis said he's looking forward to returning to Lexington when the New Orleans Pelicans face fellow ex-Cat John Wall and the Washington Wizards in a pre-season game in Rupp Arena on Saturday night.
"I'm excited to go back," Davis said in an online radio interview for the Pelicans' website on Tuesday. "It'll be fun to play back in Rupp Arena in a real game situation."
Davis was asked if he requested that the Pelicans play a pre-season game in Lexington.
"It was definitely a surprise," he said. "I had no idea. I thought it was a joke at first until I started doing media and promotional things for it."
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Lexington Herald-Leader
Davis, part of the 2012 national championship team, spoke fondly of his short time at Kentucky.
"We always have a piece of us there. ... We made it fun while it lasted," he said. "It was unfortunate that we all had to leave (early). If all of us could have stayed we would, but we move on and new guys keep coming in a try to do the same thing."
Davis said he was intimidated when he first got on campus as a freshman before heaping praise on Coach John Calipari for helping him become the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.
"I didn't know what to expect, especially going in with a whole bunch of guys who can play," he said. "And going in hearing things about Coach Cal, about how he's tough on guys and everything like that. But I took a challenge. I decided I wanted to become a better player. He definitely helped me with that, so I recommend him to any guy who wants to get better. Whether it's one year, two, three or four, he's definitely going to get you better the time you're there."
Davis will have some extra motivation Saturday. Wall's squad came out on top in the UK Alumni Charity Game that was played in Rupp in September.
"They quote-unquote beat us in the charity game, which everybody wasn't playing so I don't think it counted," Davis said.
Davis is off to a fast start this pre-season, averaging 24.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks through four games.
■ Darius Miller, Davis' teammate with the Pelicans and at Kentucky, is also looking forward to Saturday's game, even though he won't be able to play because of a stress fracture in his foot suffered this summer.
"I was pretty happy about (the game being scheduled for Lexington)," Miller, who grew up in Maysville, told Pelicans.com. "At that time I thought I'd be playing, but I'm still pretty excited to go home and see family and friends. ... I think it will be a great time for everybody. It will be a great atmosphere for everybody playing. It will be a fun place to play."
Washington Wizards vs. New Orleans Pelicans
What: NBA exhibition game
Where: Rupp Arena
When: 7 p.m.
Tickets: Prices range from $10 in the upper arena to $250 for courtside. Available at the Rupp Arena box office and on Ticketmaster.