He openly talked about wanting to win a national championship, something No. 1 Kentucky certainly is in position to do going into the NCAA Tournament. However, he's also leading the nation in blocked shots and is one of the nation's top field goal percentage shooters. He's the leading candidate for national freshman of the year as well as defensive player of the year and also one of the top two candidates for overall player of the year. Additionally, he's considered a consensus top pick in the June NBA draft.
"I don't think anybody really knew for sure what kind of player he was," UK?radio network analyst Mike Pratt, a former Kentucky standout, said. "We heard about him and heard he could block shots. Because of that, he may have exceeded expectations. John Wall exceeded mine. I just didn't know how quick he was. Big Cuz (DeMarcus Cousins) was as good as advertised.
"I don't believe any scouting services when they rate players. Do you think they watch lateral quickness? They take what college coaches tell them and just plug it into their reports. I think when I?looked at him, I didn't think he could be the factor he has been this year. He really knows how to play skilled. When I first saw him, I knew he could play the game. But I didn't know he could take the hits to the body and play. He really knows how to get it done."
Many did wonder if Davis' slim build would negate his shot-blocking skills against heavier, stronger opponents. However, opponents have tried to attack him — or avoid him — in different ways with no real success this season.
"He still has a long way to go to be where I?thought he would be offensively," Pratt said. "But I?never thought he could rebounds and block shots and not foul and keep the ball in play the way he has. He does two things — not foul and keep the ball in play — better than I ever anticipated. This kid just knows what he is doing. I just never thought there was any way a kid 18 that had grown so fast would have that type of skill set, but he does. That's where he is better than he was advertised.
"He just knows how to rebound and block shots with that slender body and not foul and still keep the ball in play. No one dominates like this kid does defensively."
Pratt says Davis in some ways reminds him of Artis Gilmore, Bill Walton and Akeem Olajuwon, all former NBA stars known for their defensive prowess.
"He's also like Cedric Maxwell that I?coached at (North Carolina) Charlotte. Cedric had those long arms and blocked shots and kept the ball in play. They have similar skill sets," Pratt said. "Sam Bowie and Pervis Ellison also had long arms and could block shots and keep the ball inbounds.
"I am not saying who is better, but they all had similar body styles, weights. They all could block shots and stayed out of foul trouble like this kid does. But Davis is special, probably even more special than I even realized after I first saw him. You can't really appreciate him until you watch him play and see what he does over and over and over to impact games."