Basketball / Sports

Anthony Davis has grown into a key piece for Team USA

LAS VEGAS -- Two summers ago, Anthony Davis served as the understudy, the practice player who had left Kentucky after one season and logged just 52 minutes as Team USA won gold at the London Olympics.

Davis, the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NBA draft, has put on 15 pounds of muscle this summer. But that's not all that has changed for the Pelicans big man.

"If we were to throw it up today, he would be a starter," USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo said Wednesday.

Fellow Chicagoan Derrick Rose marveled at Davis' energy level. And Davis' ability to run the floor and his offensive improvement cement him as an integral piece for the national program for years to come.

"I learned how to work, how to compete that summer," said Davis, 21. "I'm more confident now. I worked a lot on my shooting and ballhandling."

That's saying something for a player who grew up as a guard until a major growth spurt took him to his current 6-foot-10 frame.

"He's stronger, more confident," Colangelo said. "He's not awestruck. He looks now like he belongs. And he does.

"He's intelligent, has a great work ethic. The players really took to him (in London). They made him pay his dues. They pulled some pranks on him. We'd get on the bus and say, 'Go up to my room. I left a jacket up there.' It wasn't up there. Them taking him under their wing, he went to graduate school before he played his first NBA game."

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