UK Men's Basketball

Wall, Davis hope to display NBA maturity in return to Rupp

Former UK great Anthony Davis was all smiles as he took the floor, during the UK Alumni game  on Monday September 9, 2013 in Lexington, Ky. Photos by Mark Cornelison | Staff
Former UK great Anthony Davis was all smiles as he took the floor, during the UK Alumni game on Monday September 9, 2013 in Lexington, Ky. Photos by Mark Cornelison | Staff Herald-Leader

John Wall and Anthony Davis made terrific memories for themselves and their fans in Rupp Arena.

But when it comes to basketball, the players we knew then are nothing like the more mature versions we're going to see Saturday night.

The two former University of Kentucky stars and No. 1 overall NBA Draft picks return to Lexington as their teams go head-to-head in an exhibition game in their former college basketball home.

Davis' New Orleans Pelicans tip off against Wall's Washington Wizards at 7 p.m. Also making the trip with the Pelicans were former Cat Darius Miller — who will not play because of a foot injury that will sideline him for several more weeks — and Tyreke Evans, who played point guard for Kentucky Coach John Calipari when both were at Memphis.

The Pelicans will attempt to extend their pre-season winning streak to 6-0, a surge led by Davis, the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.

"It's going to be fun going back there to play,'' Davis told the Times Picayune of New Orleans. "At the same time, I can't go out there, you know, and act like I'm still in college.''

Davis, a considerably more muscular version of his college self, leads the Pelicans with a 23.2 scoring average after five pre-season games.

In his one season at Kentucky, Davis averaged 14.2 points and 10.4 rebounds in helping lead the Wildcats to the 2012 national championship.

Still only 20 years old, the 6-foot-10 Davis is being counted on to spark a resurgence in New Orleans, and he's taking that responsibility seriously.

"It's a business trip,'' Davis told the New Orleans website. "Just because I went there to school, I'm still trying to win the game. I'm just going to play basketball. I'm not going to do anything that I wouldn't normally do. It's no different game than any other. It's another game that we're going to try and get better as a team and I'm going to try and get better as a player.''

Wall led the Wildcats in scoring (16.6) and assists (6.5) in his one season in Lexington in 2009-10 before being drafted No. 1 overall by the Wizards in 2010.

After beginning his career with three straight losing seasons, Wall is pushing to make the playoffs with Washington this year. The Wizards point guard's leadership will depend heavily on his ability to cut down on turnovers. He averaged 4.0 per game with the Wildcats and 3.7 in his first three pro seasons.

Wall, who is averaging 11.5 points and 7.3 assists this pre-season, had eight assists and no turnovers in Washington's most recent exhibition game Thursday against New York.

"We just have to keep moving the ball," Wall told the Washington Post afterward. "That's the main thing with us, just being able to move the ball. We know we're not a team that has one person like (the Knicks' Carmelo Anthony) that's going to go (isolation) or do one-on-one things throughout the whole game. We just have to keep the trust with each other and make shots."


Wizards vs. 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.