|Smaller 'Big Baby' says he's set for NBA challenge|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 19 June 2007 11:40|
``Everyone knows I can play. Everybody knows I have skill,'' Davis said. ``It's just, 'Is he going to eat himself out of the league?'''
With Davis, it's certainly a valid question.
Once a 360-pound behemoth during his days at LSU, the 6-foot-9 Davis checked in for a predraft workout with the Miami Heat on Monday looking slim-for-him at 292 pounds. Not exactly svelte, but perhaps enough of an improvement to show teams that Davis truly has changed his ways.
And he knows his future depends on it, too. Only three men - Miami center and Davis' LSU big-man predecessor Shaquille O'Neal (325), Houston's Yao Ming (310) and little-used Washington center James Lang (305) - were listed in last season's NBA player survey as weighing more than Davis currently does. Each of those players is also taller than Davis.
``I'll keep it off,'' Davis said. ``I'll keep it off until I'm wealthy enough where I can have Big Baby Enterprises, so my kids' kids can be like Paris Hilton and them - without jail.''
If the selections for the June 28 draft were made by comedic effort, Davis would be in the first round with ease. During a 12-minute talk with reporters after his Heat workout, Davis not only pointed some fun at the jailed celebrity, but found time for a perfect impersonation of O'Neal's distinctive voice; talked about how he used to hold his shirt a certain way while talking to girls so he'd seem smaller; and drew more laughs when confessing that he now can sit by the pool without embarrassment.
But there's also a clearly serious side to Davis, who left LSU after his junior season. He's projected as a second-round pick in most mock drafts, an enormous drop from last season, when he was thought of as a possible lottery selection after leading the Tigers to the 2006 Final Four.
``That kind of stuff is for the birds, for the birds and the bees,'' Davis said. ``Nobody knows. They think they know. It's a projection. It's not accurate. My comments for last year is that I felt I wasn't ready. I don't care how high my stock was. But if I felt as a player I couldn't compete at this level, there's no way. I've already lost.''
He insists he wasn't mentally or physically prepared for the NBA game a year ago, and says if he had the decision to make again, he'd again go back to Baton Rouge for his junior year.
``I'm a better player than I was last year,'' Davis said.
Davis averaged 17.7 points and 10.4 rebounds this past season for the Tigers, who went only 17-15 overall and 5-11 in the Southeastern Conference. He and O'Neal - who, during a visit during the season to Baton Rouge, told Davis that he's ready for the NBA - are the only players to emerge from the LSU program with more than 1,500 points, 900 rebounds and 100 blocks.
Davis' game emulates O'Neal's in many ways, as do some of his mannerisms off the floor - like that sense of humor. And O'Neal, too, has been dogged with questions about his weight over his NBA career, yet is a perennial All-Star and a four-time champion.
``I grew up looking up to him, because I'm from Baton Rouge and during that era when he was there, I was a little toddler watching him play,'' Davis said. ``When he comes back to visit school, we meet up. ... I wish I could play with him one day. That'd be crazy.''