PHILADELPHIA -- Chicago native Anthony Davis, a freshman at the University of Kentucky, was recently added to the USA Basketball player pool for the upcoming 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Davis, who declared for the NBA Draft after leading the Wildcats to the NCAA Championship last month -- and winning a boatload of awards in the process, including national and conference player of the year, top freshman and best defensive player -- is projected to be the top pick in next months draft.
Along with Davis, Oklahoma City Thunder sixth man James Harden was also added to the pool of players, while several up-and-coming stars, such as Washingtons John Wall, Sacramentos DeMarcus Cousins and Clevelands Kyrie Irving, were named to the USA Select Team, a group of young players who will train with and scrimmage against Olympic-team hopefuls in Las Vegas this summer.
The additions of Davis and Harden were made after multiple players, including Bulls All-Star point guard Derrick Rose and Orlando center Dwight Howard, suffered significant injuries that will likely prevent them from playing, while other candidates, such as holdover veteran forward Lamar Odom and Lakers center Andrew Bynum, are unlikely to participate for other reasons.
One candidate, 76ers All-Star swingman Andre Iguodala, a member of the 2010 gold-medalist FIBA World Championships team alongside Rose, voiced his opinion about Davis, who hasnt yet stepped foot on an NBA court, potentially joining the Olympic team.
Big fan, Iguodala, an Illinois native, told CSNChicago.com, following the Sixers Friday-morning shootaround at the Wells Fargo Center, where his team will take on the Bulls in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series hours later. He can affect the game in different areas, which is important. I saw the national-championship game and he wasnt scoring, but his emotion impacted the play on the floor and thats what I enjoy about players like that.
With Howard and big men like LaMarcus Aldridge out due to injury, Odom unlikely to make the squad after a disastrous season in Dallas and Bynum declining to play, USA Basketball is desperately in need of more size -- the only true post-player candidates are recently-named NBA Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler of the Knicks and All-Star power forwards Kevin Love of Minnesota, the Clippers Blake Griffin and Miamis Chris Bosh -- although Davis lacks professional experience, his shot-blocking expertise could give him a shot and even if he doesnt make the squad, simply training during July with his soon-to-be peers should give him a leg up as a rookie.