Anthony Davis officially signs with the Hornets. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Friday, June 29, 2012 11:29 AM
NEW ORLEANS — The Hornets officially made Anthony Davis the most popular big man in the Big Easy.
As expected, New Orleans took Davis with the top overall pick in Thursday night’s NBA draft, giving fans gathered in the New Orleans Arena more of a reason to cheer than they had through most of a difficult 2011-12 season.
Davis’ new teammates in New Orleans will include guard Austin Rivers, whom the Hornets drafted with the 10th overall pick.
The 6-foot-11 Davis, nicknamed the “unibrow,” has been the consensus No. 1 pick for months, so it was only a matter of the Hornets
The 19-year-old Davis, who was The Associated Press Player of the Year as a freshman, will now earn his living in the city where he helped the Wildcats win a national title last spring.
"I’m excited about having the chance to work with Anthony,” Hornets coach Monty Williams said. “We have added an incredibly talented, athletic big man with great length who is also a proven winner. In getting to know him, he’s also a highcharacter kid and someone I look forward to helping develop further.”
Davis was also named most outstanding player of the Final Four, tying an NCAA championship game record with six blocked shots against Kansas to go with 16 rebounds, five assists and three steals.
“The first thing I said after (the Hornets won the NBA draft lottery) was it would be great to win another championship in New Orleans,” Davis said. “Monty is a great coach who has played in the league and will tell you how it is. He has given me some great advice and I can’t wait to get out on the court with him.”
Davis, who has not only embraced but even trademarked his “unibrow” nickname, is already a crowd favorite in New Orleans, judging by the hundreds of fans who took up the Hornets on their invitation to watch the draft inside the arena. They cheered when the scoreboard’s massive video board showed Davis shaking Commissioner David Stern’s hand at NBA draft headquarters in Newark, N.J., knowing they’ll have plenty of chances to see him in person next season.
“We look forward to him being a part of the sustained success of our franchise on and off the court,” Hornets General Manager Dell Demps said.
Davis is expected to start right away. Last year’s starting center, Emeka Okafor, was traded last week, and the Hornets have not indicated that they intend to bring back free agent center Chris Kaman.
The 6-foot-4 Rivers, whose father is Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, averaged a teamhigh 15.5 points per game as a freshman at Duke, and could play both guard spots.
“(His) defensive presence and his offensive upside is great,” Demps said. “With Austin’s playmaking ability to go along with Eric, I’m hoping we’re going to be really hard to guard and score on.”