Big Baby: I'm Glad I Stayed
LSU's man in the middle expects nothing less than a first-round selection
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June 18, 2007
By Bryan Armen Graham
Bryan is a basketball editor for CSTV.com and contributes on a regular weekly basis.
In the 15 months since spiriting Louisiana State to the school's first Final Four appearance in two decades, Glen "Big Baby" Davis hasn't been able to go anywhere without being approached by thankful fans.
"They would tell us that last year was a great experience or that they'll never forget it or that it was one of the highlights of their life,"
That 2005-06 campaign crystallized the ebullient 6-foot-9 post man's place as one of the most celebrated freaks of nature in the history of college basketball. Listed at 310 pounds -- but tipping the scales at 326 -- the deceptively nimble and irresistibly charismatic Davis became the first player since Shaquille O'Neal to pace the SEC in scoring and rebounding while sparking his side's furious second-half run into the national spotlight.
But a loss to UCLA in the national semifinals exposed Big Baby's weaknesses, as Ben Howland's adroit game plan exploited the pivotman's questionable stamina and reduced
Improving his diet and adopting a rigorous training regimen,
"Losing multiple games back to back was tough for us,"
While most pundits believe Big Baby should have capitalized on Louisiana State's run to the Final Four and entered last year's NBA draft -- like teammate Tyrus Thomas, who was taken with the fourth overall selection -- Davis has no regrets about returning for his junior year.
"I'm glad I stayed because I'm a better player, regardless of the success I had [in 2005-06],"
"I just feel like a compete player, like I'm ready. And that was another reason I didn't put my name in: because I felt like I wasn't ready."
Like many high-profile players,
"People know I can play. People saw me play in the Final Four -- they've seen me be successful and seen me lose also. It wasn't a problem for me getting noticed,"
The failures of previous big-bodied but undersized post men -- busts like Robert Traylor and Michael Sweetney -- don't help his case.
Davis, who would be "shocked" if not selected in the first round, has undergone individual workouts with a number of teams, including Philadelphia, New York, New Jersey, Chicago and Houston. Big Baby admits the pressure of an individual workout can be a nerve-wracking event, but trusts in his experience and preparation.
"You're kind of nervous,"
Big Baby has remained in contact with Thomas as his former teammate has carved out a reserve role with the Chicago Bulls. As the draft process has pressed forward, Thomas has given
"He just tells me, "Just don't worry about what's going on right now. You have no control over anything. Just play your game, do what you're supposed to do, your time will come and you'll be given a chance to prove what you can do.'"