NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Some of Anthony Davis' own college teammates once wondered how he'd respond to the demands and pressure of being the top overall draft pick in the NBA.
After all, Davis didn't really have to score to lead Kentucky to victory in the 2012 national title game; he made only one shot, instead using his speed, athleticism and length to suffocate Kansas with blocks and rebounds.
In the pros, No. 1 picks are expected to score, and the 6-foot-10 Davis, as it turns out, has developed into the all-court force the Pelicans need him to be.
In his second NBA season, he is averaging 20.2 points, 10.3 rebounds and three blocks per game, emerging as a candidate for next month's All-Star game in the Big Easy.
"I was curious to see how he'd do offensively (in the NBA), because we had so many people that shot the ball at Kentucky, he really didn't have to do a lot" on the offensive end, recalled former Wildcat Darius Miller, who also wound up playing professionally in New Orleans. "He's even shocked me. I didn't know he had all that with his game. ... There's no telling how good he can be."
Davis was selected Thursday for Team USA, meaning he'll have a chance to compete for a spot on the final Olympic roster for the 2016 Rio Games. Davis also represents New Orleans' best shot to have a player in the All-Star game, which the city hosts on Feb. 16.
When All-Star fan voting closed, Davis was well off the pace to be elected as a starter for the Western Conference, but he could still be selected by NBA coaches as a reserve.
"What he's done on the floor is enough, the fact he's a two-way player, putting up offensive numbers and, on any given night, he can give you three to eight blocks — and guarding some of the best players in the league at his position," Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. "I just think he's merited an All-star nod. I hope he gets it. ... The guy works his tail off and he's really talented."
Still only 20 years old (until March 11), and with so much of his career ahead, Davis said he won't be crushed if he fails to get his first All-Star nod.
"Hopefully I can do that, represent New Orleans in the All-Star game, but I'm not sure," Davis said after practice Thursday. "I've been playing well, but there's a lot of guys in the league who've been playing well. The Western Conference is tough, especially with the bigs: Dwight (Howard), LaMarcus (Aldridge), Kevin Love, Pau (Gasol). I'm not sure, so I'm just going to keep working, keep playing hard."