CHICAGO -- People strongly advised Anthony Davis he should transfer from Perspectives for his final season.
They told Davis, who had gone from an unknown last spring to ESPN’s No. 2 prospect in the country, because he was such a large draw and so talented he surround himself with better players. They tried to be polite about it, but they let him know his Perspectives teammates weren’t going to get anywhere.
Davis didn’t listen. Perspectives was home. It was where he started and where he would finish his career. Whether or not his teammates had the ability to play on any of the area’s top teams was unimportant. They were his friends when he was just Anthony Davis to now when he was the Anthony Davis. He wasn’t going to abandon them.
The decision cost Davis a chance at experiencing a winning season and competing for a state title. It cost him winning ESPNChicago.com’s and the Chicago Sun-Times’ player of the year honors. It’ll probably cost him Illinois’ Mr. Basketball, too.
But when his high school career did finally come to an end with a 60-53 loss to King in the Class 3A King regional semifinals on Wednesday, Davis had no regrets about his decision.
“Overall, I love playing with this team,” Davis said. “People told me to transfer. I stuck it out with these guys. I love them.
“I never was going to transfer, ever. This is my team. This is who I’ve been with since sixth grade through my whole high school career.”
Despite again being outmatched in talent on Wednesday, Davis and his teammates nearly pulled off the improbable against top-seeded King. The Jaguars had opportunities to put Perspective away throughout the game, but the Wolves had an answer each time until the final minutes.
King held a 45-35 lead to start the fourth quarter, but Perspectives wasn’t going to lie down in the final eight minutes. Getting contributions from a variety of people, the Wolves opened the final quarter on an 8-2 run and pulled within 47-43 with 5:15 left.
It would be as close as Perspectives would get. King provided the Wolves with a few more chances to pull even closer, but they could never capitalize. Missed shots and turnovers would be Perspectives’ downfall in the final five minutes.
“It was one of those situations where we haven’t been in this type of situation in a long time, not a lot,” Perspectives coach Cortez Hale said. “We’re in a tight game like this, in a playoff atmosphere. When this happened, a lot of people didn’t know how to handle themselves. They didn’t know what to do.
“It’s something we have to work on and get better at because next year there is no Anthony Davis.”
Opponents won’t be shedding a tear for his departure. Davis changed games by himself, and that was again the case against King.
He scored inside and out. He blocked shots inside and out. He grabbed his own misses and put them back. He grabbed his teammates’ misses and dunked them home.
When the final horn sounded, Davis finished with 30 points, 19 rebounds, two assists, six blocks and two steals. It was a normal night for him.
Hale was going to miss Davis, but he couldn’t wait to see his star player surrounded by players of his caliber in the McDonald’s and Jordan Brand all-star games in the coming month and next season at Kentucky.
“It’s going to be amazing just to see him playing with kids of those type of levels,” Hale said. “Next year and in the all-star games, he’s going to show the nay-sayers he’s not a one-man show. He can play great basketball.”
The next month will provide Davis an opportunity to prove to ESPN’s recruiting experts whether he’s deserving of the No. 1 spot in the Class of 2011 in the season’s final rankings.
Davis had mixed feelings about the honor.
“It’s really exciting going from being nowhere to No. 1,” Davis said. “Most people don’t get that, and I have the opportunity to do that. If I could be No. 1, it would probably be exciting for a week. ‘Oh God, I’m No. 1, let’s go celebrate.’
“But after awhile, after these all-star games, and I start working out to get ready for Kentucky, it’s time to bite down and get serious.”