Sports

By Steve Reaven

For The Mash

Life can change dramatically in 12 months—just ask Anthony Davis.

Only last winter, he was toiling in obscurity at the Public League Blue division’s Perspectives-MSA, a high-achieving academic charter school with virtually no athletic tradition.

By summer’s end, though, the versatile 6’10” senior forward had become a consensus top-five national performer with a full ride to Kentucky and a virtual lock to be selected as a McDonald’s All-American.

“I had to change my phone number a couple of times but it’s been great overall,” Davis said. “A lot more people notice me and come up to talk and get an autograph.”

So what’s behind Davis’ meteoric rise?

Besides being a late-bloomer (Davis was only 6’2” as a junior), last year was the first time since 8th grade that he played on the spring and summer AAU circuit.

That decision ensured Davis an all-important commodity: exposure.

“I always felt I was as good as everyone else in the city,” Davis said. “Once I started playing, word got out about me.”

The buzz around Davis has resulted in a pronounced upgrade to Perspectives-MSA’s schedule, including a mid-January trip to Columbus, Ohio, and Springfield, Mass., and a nationally-televised matchup with Whitney Young in December.

“Me and my teammates have been able to see and experience some great things,” Davis said. “Everyone always says ‘thank you’ to me for being so good.”

Davis’ play hasn’t disappointed.

He entered the week averaging 32 points, 22 rebounds and 6.5 blocks per game. His best outing was a 48-point outburst vs. Harper on Dec. 20.

“I think I’ve played pretty well,” Davis said. “I wish we had more wins but we’re going to try to get some more down the stretch.”

HONORABLE  MENTIONS

Nick Fontanetta

Junior, Crystal Lake South, wrestling

>> Owns a perfect 30-0 record (112-pound class) heading into this weekend’s Fox Valley Conference meet.

>> Has already won tournaments at Barrington, Harvard and Sycamore this season, including Most Outstanding Wrestler recognition at Harvard.

>> Finished 3rd at Class 3A state meet a year ago at 103 pounds.

On his iPod: Anything that gets him relaxed and ready to go—mostly rock, rap and country.

Plays him in a movie: Brad Pitt. Really liked his performance in “Fight Club.”

Overrated: Facebook

Tashea Smalls

Senior, Lincoln Park, girls basketball

>> Integral reason the Lions (19-3 entering the week) clinched their first-ever Windy City North title last Thursday. Ended conference play averaging 15 points, 7 rebounds and 5 steals per game.

>> Four-year starter whose best game so far this season is a 21-point outing against Morton at the Riverside-Brookfield holiday tournament.

>> Signed in November to play at UIC.

On her iPod: Mostly rap and hip-hop. Listening to a lot of Lil Wayne and Drake.

Plays her in a movie: Romeo. People say the two look alike.

Overrated: Politics. People are always talking about politics and it’s just not her thing.

Savannah Trees

Senior, Libertyville, girls basketball

>> Leading scorer for the undefeated Wildcats (22-0 entering the week), averaging nearly 14 points per

outing.

>> Two-year starter at point guard and three-year varsity performer.

>> Had a career-high 25 points in the season opener against Prospect.

On her iPod: “Do The John Wall” is the team’s unofficial song. Team enters the court at home games to “Wavin Flag” by K’naan, and also hears “Black and Yellow” by Wiz Khalifa a lot lately.

Secret crush: Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo. She likes the way he runs the Celtics and thinks he’s cute too.

Overrated: Regular food. She requires a gluten-free diet.

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The Mash is the Chicago Tribune's newspaper and website written for teens, by teens. The paper is distributed for free each Thursday at Chicago-area high schools and is written largely by high school students.

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