USA hoops hits jackpot with Chicago's Anthony Davis

For RedEye

Anthony Davis is a lot like most 21-year-olds when it comes to how he prefers to spend his time away from work.

"When I do get a little bit of downtime, I try to really sleep, watch movies. I definitely just try to get in my sleep as much as possible," the New Orleans Pelicans star said.

Of course, his schedule is busier than most these days.

The brightest NBA star Chicago has produced since Derrick Rose is in the midst of a whirlwind summer filled with appearances and training for the U.S. national team. After a brief stop in Chicago this weekend for the Red Bull Reign three-on-three tournament, he's in Las Vegas for USA Basketball training camp this week.

"I just can't wait for it all to happen, be with some other elite guys, great coaches," he said. "I can't wait until it all gets started and try to win another gold medal."

Only three years removed from dominating the hardwood as a prep star at Perspectives Charter School, Davis already has established himself as one of the brightest stars in the NBA and a building block for the future of USA Basketball.

Since being drafted first overall out of the University of Kentucky in 2012, Davis has torn through the NBA, averaging nearly 21 points and 10 rebounds per game in just his second season. He also helped the U.S. win Olympic gold in 2012 in London.

Growing up, Davis knew he was going to be good. The timeline is what threw him a little.

"I definitely envisioned it, but I didn't think it was going to happen this quickly," he said. "Now that it has, you definitely can't lose your edge or your focus."

It's that focus that he says is going to be key to avoiding Vegas' renowned temptations.

"You can't cede to peer pressure just because it's Vegas," he said. "At the end of the day you make your own decisions and you decide what you want to do."

Davis is quick to credit his Chicago upbringing for his success both on and off the court.

"I think playing in Chicago definitely gives you that toughness that I don't think any other city can give you," he said. "It gives you the heart."

He's Chicago to the core—except for one thing.

"I can't really say I was a big Bulls fan because I didn't get a chance to watch either one of the three-peats," he said. "My dad was a big Bulls fan and all his friends and my cousins. I knew about the Bulls, I knew about Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, I knew about everybody. I just wasn't into it like that."

So what does Davis look forward to the most about coming home, aside from family time?

"Giordano's pizza is definitely one, Portillo's, Harold's Chicken," he said. "I'm really just trying to chill with my family other than that, spend time with them because I'm always traveling, doing something."



Last year, the New Orleans Pelicans unveiled arguably one of the ugliest mascots in pro sports. Don't think for a second that the players didn't notice.

"It was scaring kids and they wouldn't come to the games," Anthony Davis said, laughing. "They had to go do surgery on his face and make him come back a little more happier so the kids would be happy to take their picture with him."

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all, and Davis said he's learned to love the repugnant pelican.

"I think our mascot looks the best," he said. "It kind of messes with [our opponent] when we're out here running up the score on them."

Matt Lindner is a RedEye special contributor.

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