Perseverance paid off for Anthony Davis in his journey from Chicago to New Orleans Hornets
Chicago â Behind the wheel of his well-traveled 2004 silver Infinity Q35, Daniel Poneman battled with a range of emotions. Returning home from a tournament in Merrillville, Ind., one of the hundreds of schoolboy basketball tournaments he often attended to assess talent, Poneman ran through his feelings: Excitement. Incredulity. Disbelief.
As he tooled northward along Interstate 94 toward the den of his Evanston, Ill., home just a block and a half from fabled Lakeshore Drive and the turquoise waters of Lake Michigan, Poneman pondered what heâd just witnessed.
Three years earlier, Poneman, then a high school freshman, had seen Anthony Davis, 5 feet 9, about 130 pounds, playing for an eighth-grade AAU basketball team in Chicago, a wiry sixth man who wore goggles.
Having already created a website in which he tracked Illinois high school basketball recruits, Poneman was at that time branching out, organizing an eighth-grade all-star game, and he was scouting talent. The Chicago Select team had some intriguing possibilities Poneman wanted to see.
Anthony Davis wasnât one of them.
âThey were the premier eighth-grade team,â Poneman recalled. âI watched their team play about three or four games that weekend and I remember having conversations with Anthonyâs mom, and telling the (other) moms, âWatch out for that Anthony kid.â â
The pronouncement likely drew a polite chuckle.
And though the invitation was extended, Anthony Davis couldnât make Ponemanâs eighth-grade all-star game.
âEighth-grade graduation or something like that,â Poneman said. âI put him in my rankings as the 30th-best eighth-grader in the state. And then we fell out of touch.
âFlash forward about three years and I get a couple of calls. âThereâs this really tall kid that Meanstreets has. I donât know if heâs good, but you should check him out.â They said his name was Anthony Davis. At the time, I didnât make the connection that it was the same Anthony Davis. I hadnât seen him in three years.â
The transformation Poneman had witnessed earlier that day in Merrillville was astonishing.
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