Perseverance paid off for Anthony Davis in his journey from Chicago to New Orleans Hornets
Chicago – 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 he’d 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 wasn’t one of them.
“They were the premier eighth-grade team,” Poneman recalled. “I watched their team play about three or four games that weekend and I remember having conversations with Anthony’s mom, and telling the (other) moms, ‘Watch out for that Anthony kid.’ ”
The pronouncement likely drew a polite chuckle.
And though the invitation was extended, Anthony Davis couldn’t make Poneman’s eighth-grade all-star game.
“Eighth-grade graduation or something like that,” Poneman said. “I put him in my rankings as the 30th-best eighth-grader in the state. And then we fell out of touch.
“Flash forward about three years and I get a couple of calls. ‘There’s this really tall kid that Meanstreets has. I don’t know if he’s good, but you should check him out.’ They said his name was Anthony Davis. At the time, I didn’t make the connection that it was the same Anthony Davis. I hadn’t seen him in three years.”
The transformation Poneman had witnessed earlier that day in Merrillville was astonishing.
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