Anthony Davis Returns to Men's National Team As One of the Leaders
Las Vegas, Nevada
At 19 years old without a single professional game to his name, Anthony Davis had no idea what to expect when he made the USA Men’s National Team’s roster for the 2012 Olympics.
Davis traveled to London and was mostly seen but not heard. He appeared in seven of the eight games, averaging 3.7 points and 2.7 rebound per game, and afterward he was often in charge of carrying bags or going on food runs for the veteran players. What he got in return was a crash course education in international basketball and memories he still carries with him today.
“It feels like it was yesterday,” Davis said. “I remember everything about that trip and about that experience.”
Fast forward two years and Davis is now one of the veterans at training camp for the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain next month. As the team continues practices on UNLV’s campus, Davis joins Kevin Durant and James Harden as the only players on the roster with an Olympic gold. In a very short time Davis has gone from a player just enjoying the ride to one of the organization’s leaders.
“When I talk to guys about different situations they definitely listen,” Davis said.
In just more than two years, Davis has won a college national championship, become a No. 1 overall pick, won an Olympic gold medal and become an NBA All-Star. It’s a rapid rise that Monty Williams, New Orleans Pelicans coach and a USA Basketball assistant, has witnessed first hand.
“Understanding how to deal with success is tough and he’s done a really good job,” Williams said. “He’s getting more and more experience, and that’s stuff I can’t teach him.”
Training camp started with 19 players on the 2014 USA National Team roster. While none are technically guaranteed one of the 12 final spots, there are guys like Durant who know they’re not going anywhere. Thanks to a little help from the guys who dropped out of consideration before camp, Davis appears to be in that group.
“We are going to have to have active bigs,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said Monday. “Our main guy is Anthony Davis and we will see who else fits in.”
Even with quotes like that and the private conversations he’s had with Krzyzewski and managing director Jerry Colangelo, Davis said he didn’t want to jinx himself by looking past camp.
“It’s definitely an honor to get picked multiple times to play for the USA,” he said. “Hopefully I keep getting invited.”
That’s not something Davis likely has to worry about, especially if he continues to develop. After practice on Tuesday, Davis and Williams spent some extra time working on one-on-one dribbling moves facing the basket. Adding those kinds of skills and jump shots to his arsenal would be the next major development in Davis’ game, and with his head coach on the USA Basketball staff there’s no time like the present to work on the future.
“As the camp progresses you’ll see him blossom more and more as he gets more comfortable,” Williams said.
That’s great news for Colangelo and the coaching staff. Davis only made the 2012 Olympics roster after an injury to Blake Griffin, but because of that experience and last year’s USA mini-camp he’s way ahead of schedule and figures to be key piece of the organization from this point forward.
“Coach K wants me to be one those guys for USA,” Davis said. “I’m just trying to do my job.”