He's more worried about winning a national championship than any national player of the year awards, but Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis certainly had a player of the year performance against Vanderbilt.
He was 10-for-11 from the field and 8-for-9 at the foul line for 28 points. He grabbed 11 rebounds, blocked six shots, altered at least five more, forced two turnovers and made two steals. In 37 minutes against Vanderbilt's physical defense, he had one turnover and was the biggest reason No. 1 UK beat Vanderbilt 83-74.
"He was assertive and aggressive offensively today. Again, it was a terrific performance," Stallings said. "I think we helped him some. I think our defense at times was pretty suspect with him. We blocked him out twice in the game. That's not many given he is at the rim all the time. But he's special. He's a different kind of player. Again,?I am very impressed with how he goes about his business, not just how he plays."
That's because Davis makes sensational plays look ordinary and doesn't gloat, pound his chest or look to the crowd for approval.
"I do all the same things at practice. Coach Cal just told me to use my quickness today and I did," Davis said. "Whatever they gave me, I fed off it."
That included a driving, left-handed shot in the lane where he was fouled as well as two jump shots that just beat the expiration of the 35-second shot clock. Out of his 10 field goals, none came on lob passes that led to many of the routine slams he's had this year.
"That's what great players do and what really successful teams do. They get plays done at end of the clock. In some cases we played great defense and the ball went it. You just tip your cap to him," Stallings admitted.
Great player? That's not an embellishment.
"Today was probably his best overall game," sophomore teammate Terrence Jones said. "He did a little bit of everything. He rebounded, made shots, tip-ins. All we needed, he did. Everybody is getting better at understanding what other people do best, but we all know Anthony can do everything."
Freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist felt Davis had a "crazy" game — and that's meant as a big compliment.
Who would Kidd-Gilchrist compare him to?
"Let me see. Maybe like LeBron (James)," Kidd-Gilchrist said.
Of course,?the Miami Heat star is considered the best player in the NBA by many or certainly one of the top three.
"That's who I think it is if you want to compare Anthony because he can do everything," Kidd-Gilchrist said. "From on offense to on defense, he's a monster."
Best player in the country?
"Yeah, I think he is," Kidd-Gilchrist said. "I don't really know how to explain his game. But I think he's the best."
So do I.
He's been known as a shot blocker and does lead the country with 139 in 29 games. However, he's also pulling off 9.9 rebounds per game and leading UK with 44 steals.?Offensively, he's averaging 13.9 points per game after getting his season high against Vandy and is shooting 65 percent from the field.
"I've been holding him back," Kentucky coach John Calipari joked after the win that clinched the Southeastern Conference title for Kentucky. "I'm trying to get him to stay in school another year. After the game, I just told everybody they did what they did and how good, and I said, ‘You (Davis) were pretty good, too.' And the whole team started laughing. They thought it was hysterical.
"He's a good kid. He's just unselfish. He only took 11 shots. He made 10. You tell me if you're that kid, blocking shots, rebounding balls, you're not going to take 20 shots?"
Not Davis. He's not that way. Give him three shots in a Kentucky win and he's happy. Give him 30 points in a Kentucky loss and he won't be happy. That's one reason this team could be special.?If a player destined to be the overall No. 1 pick in the June NBA draft is not selfish and concerned about winning more than anything else, it sets the tone for the team.
Davis didn't even want to buy into Kidd-Gilchrist's comparison to James.
"I would not say I am LeBron James by any stretch," Davis laughed and said. "LeBron is LeBron.?He's the best. He's in his own category, but that's great he thinks of me that way. I just try each game to play hard and do what I?am capable of doing."
Does he have more still to show now that he's starting to score outside and also put the ball on the floor more?
"I don't know yet. I don't know how I would evaluate what I?have left, but I hope there's more to come. That's why you practice to get better every day," Davis said. "I knew early in the year when my free throws weren't falling that they would. I?knew I could score outside. I still think there is more I can do."
The player he wants to be like is NBA star Kevin Durant, a versatile forward who can do a bit of everything with amazing athleticism and skills.
"I?look up to him and the way he plays," Davis said. "He just loves basketball and so do I. I try to pattern myself after his game."
However, with the way he's playing, there's certain to be many players wanting to pattern themselves after Davis because as Vanderbilt found out Saturday, there's not much this special player cannot do.
"He's got to be player of the year. I don't know how you could vote for anybody else," Jones said. "What more could one player do?"