With only one scholarship offer, from Cleveland State, Davis sought to increase his visibility and joined an AAU summer team. After that he went to the Boo Williams Nike Invitational in Virginia in April 2010 with the Chicago Mean Streets but played just one half of one game before injuring his ankle. Still, Syracuse had been impressed enough by his length and athleticism to offer him a scholarship. After that Davis received calls from almost every D-I program—even Harvard.
The letters with scholarship offers piled so high Davis never got around to opening some. "It was overwhelming," he says. "I was so excited. I wanted to go see every school and talk to everyone. I still have my box of letters. When I go back home to Chicago, I look at them. I still can't believe it. All this happened to me. Just because I grew."
Davis chose to go to Kentucky, he says, because he liked Calipari's up-and-down style of play and his track record of preparing players for the pros. "My ultimate dream is to go to the NBA, and I think I had the best chance of doing that here," he says.
As important as Davis was to UK's success leading up to the NCAA tournament, his value only increased in the Big Dance. In the first five NCAA matchups he blocked 23 shots and scored 76 points—including nine against Indiana when he sat with two early fouls. He then bounced back from a knee injury suffered against Baylor to have 18 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks against Louisville in the national semifinal.
Because the NCAA didn't track blocks until the 1985--86 season, the efforts of some of the game's best rejection artists—Russell, Bill Walton, Hakeem Olajuwon, to name just a few—went uncounted. The first year that stats were officially kept, Navy's David Robinson blocked 207 shots, still an NCAA season record. Thanks to Davis, this year's Wildcats averaged more than a block per game better than anyone in the country (8.57 heading into the Final Four), just behind the record of 9.09 set by Mourning-led Georgetown in 1988--89.
Though Davis judges all of his blocks as "good," he says the heroic swat against UNC's Henson is his favorite. After he gathered that ball and threw it to point guard Marquis Teague, Davis ran straight to the Kentucky bench, forgetting, in his excitement, that there was still time on the clock. "It was a big block and a big game," he says. "I was going crazy, jumping up and down, and everybody was grabbing me. I had never done anything like that before. Never hit a game-winner or anything like that. That was my first time saving the game."
Fair to say it wasn't his last.