NEW ORLEANS — The Hornets have officially made Anthony Davis the most popular big man in the Big Easy.
As expected, New Orleans took Davis with the top overall pick in Thursday night’s NBA draft.
The 6-foot-11 Davis, nicknamed the “unibrow,” has been the consensus No. 1 pick for months, so it was only a matter of the Hornets making the addition of the Kentucky star official.
The 19-year-old Davis, who was The Associated Press Player of the Year as a freshman, will now earn his living in the city where he helped the Wildcats win a national title last spring.
Davis was also named most outstanding player of the Final Four, tying an NCAA championship game record with six blocked shots against Kansas to go with 16 rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Davis, who has not only embraced but even trademarked his “unibrow” nickname, is already a crowd favorite in New Orleans, judging by the hundreds of fans who took up the Hornets on their invitation to watch the draft inside the arena. They cheered when the scoreboard’s massive video board showed Davis shaking Commissioner David Stern’s hand at NBA draft headquarters in Newark, N.J., knowing they’ll have plenty of chances to see him in person next season.
Davis is expected to start right away. Last year’s starting center, Emeka Okafor, was traded last week, and the Hornets have not indicated that they intend to bring back free agent center Chris Kaman.
Davis is not a typical big man in that he started high school playing guard before a growth spurt turned him into a center. He can handle the ball, pass and has a smooth jump shot that has proven accurate from inside 18 feet.
Davis, a Chicago native, led the nation in blocks with 4.65 per game. His 186 total blocks set Kentucky, Southeastern Conference and NCAA freshman single-season records.
He was also named the SEC Player of the Year, SEC Defensive Player of the Year and SEC Freshman of the Year.
While he did not score in the national title game, that performance was an anomaly. He led the Wildcats in scoring with 14.2 points per game, as well as in rebounding with 10.4 per game and field goal percentage at .623.
He recorded 20 double-doubles in his lone college campaign.