THROWBACK: When Anthony Davis Led Kentucky Wildcats to the NCAA Title After a Historic Freshman Season

Published 01/03/2021, 8:00 AM EST


The Kentucky Wildcats are proud eight-time winners of the NCAA Division I title, and their most recent triumph came in 2012. Anthony Davis led the Wildcats to a comfortable victory over the Kansas Jayhawks in the championship game, after which he ventured into NBA’s superstardom. 

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The 2011-12 Wildcats team is one of the most talented rosters assembled in the program’s history. They boasted a class of five-star recruits taking the center stage, but Anthony Davis shone bright amid the extraordinary talent that was assembled by John Calipari

Anthony Davis put up monstrous numbers as a freshman 

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It is impossible to forget Anthony Davis’ impact as a college freshman, even though he’s a certified NBA superstar now. He transformed the Wildcats into the best team in the country and recorded a historic individual freshman season, besides clinching the National Championship. 

For starters, Davis played 40 games as a freshman and started each of them. He boasted a 62.3% field goal rate, even though he wasn’t the primary shot taker on the team. Moreover, Davis is tied 11th as the freshman with most double-doubles in NCAA history (20). 

Furthermore, a historic freshman season saw Anthony Davis win 14 individual awards, which is a mind-boggling number even for an experienced senior campaigner!

Davis averaged 14.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game to propel the Wildcats into the NCAA tournament, while just losing two games in the process. These efforts earned him Consensus National Player of the Year and the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player awards.

How did Davis do in the championship game against Kansas?

Davis’ performance against the Kansas Jayhawks came as a disappointment after his humongous performance in the previous games. This aspect only relates to the scoring factor as he went 1-10 from the field. 

But the 6’10” big-man was instrumental on the defensive end as he secured 12 defensive rebounds and made six blocks during the game. The rest of the Wildcats made up for Davis’ offensive slump and racked up the points to guide Kentucky to their first National title since 1998. 

“Well, it’s not me, it’s these guys behind me. They led us this whole tournament. This whole game, I was struggling offensively, and I told my team, every time down, you all score the ball; I’m just gonna defend and rebound,” Davis credited his teammates after the championship game. 

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Likewise, the rest of the Wildcats roster developed tremendous respect for Anthony Davis as a player and as a teammate. He was majorly responsible for Kentucky’s championship triumph, and no one can deny that. 

The Wildcats defeated Kansas 67-59 to run home with the title, and Davis inarguably went down as one of the greatest players to grace NCAA basketball. His 186 blocks during the season is the most a freshman has ever made. 

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Arjun Athreya

1798 articles

Arjun Athreya is a senior writer at Essentially Sports and has been contributing since early 2020. Having developed an avid interest in sports at an early age, he pursued a Journalism degree and graduated from Madras Christian College. Arjun manages the Golf division and its content, and primarily covers news pertaining to the NBA as well.

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