While most players at this week’s USA Basketball minicamp at UNLV’s Mendenhall Center are wearing traditional-looking sneakers, Anthony Davis has gone neon green.
Must be a Mardi Gras thing.
Or maybe it’s an expression of happiness and confidence from the 6-foot-10-inch, 20-year-old forward who already has a gold medal from the 2012 Olympics in his possession and is looking to add to that collection next summer when Team USA competes in the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.
“Definitely,” Davis said after Wednesday’s one-hour workout. “After you’ve had a taste of the Olympics, you want more. I’m having a lot of fun out here.”
The man the New Orleans Pelicans have chosen to build their franchise around is a much more confident and assertive player than he was a year ago when he was a late addition to the Olympic team’s training camp. Davis found himself making the final 12-man roster after Blake Griffin injured his knee in practice.
And while Davis didn’t play much in London — he averaged just 3.7 points and 2.7 rebounds — he was surrounded by great players, and he learned about competing in practice, getting the proper rest, how to fit in and take criticism and be part of the most exclusive club in basketball.
“It was an amazing experience,” he said. “To play with so many great players and learn from them, I feel so blessed to have been chosen.”
As the lone Olympian at this week’s Las Vegas minicamp, Davis is trying to lead by example.
Watching him in drills, he goes hard all the time. In the scrimmages, he’s active at both ends of the floor, particularly at the defensive end, something that didn’t escape the sharp eye of coach Mike Krzyzewski.
“He’s really grown a lot,” Krzyzewski said. “His defense during Tuesday’s practice was outstanding.”
Look for those skills to be on display at 6 p.m. today at the Thomas & Mack Center as USA Basketball has its Blue-White intrasquad game to wrap up its week in Las Vegas.
Davis, who has been teaming with Damian Lillard, DeMar DeRozan, Greg Monroe and Gordon Hayward in practice, has noticed the competition has been just as fierce as last year.
“The intensity is just as high because guys are trying to make a positive impression,” he said. “I’ve been more active this year because I’m more comfortable. It’s been more fun.”
USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo wasn’t ready to officially add Davis to the 2014 roster Wednesday. But it’s just a matter of time before he does.
“We see a lot of improvement and maturity,” Colangelo said of Davis. “He’s a big part of the future of USA Basketball.”
■ NOTES — Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart and Creighton’s Doug McDermott, the two college players participating in the minicamp, ended their time with the team Wednesday and will not play in tonight’s USA Basketball Showcase. “We wanted to give them a taste of what it’s like and they both did very well,” Krzyzewski said. ... Milwaukee center Larry Sanders is being held out of the game after he sprained his ankle in practice Tuesday. The other 25 players will play. ... Tickets, starting at $10 for the balcony and $30 for the lower level, will be on sale all day at the Thomas & Mack box office as well as online though UNLVTickets.com. ... NBA TV (Cable 318) will televise the game live beginning at 6 p.m.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.