Drafted in the second round, he's enjoying a fine rookie campaign for the Celtics, highlighted by career high 20 points recently against the powerhouse Detroit Pistons. But many, to this day, believe football should have been his sport.
As a 6-8, 350-pound running back (yes, running back!) at University Laboratory High in Baton Rouge, his size, quickness and nimble feet made him one of the nation's premier recruits ... although probably as a tight end or a lineman. After his junior year, Hacks Magazine ranked him the No. 8 prospect in his class nationally, ahead of Calvin Johnson, the No. 2 pick in last year's draft, and fellow Louisianan Glenn Dorsey, who may go No. 1 this spring.
Then he made an announcement that shocked the football-crazed state. He decided not to play his senior year in high school.
"Crazy, stupid, dumb," he said were the taunts he heard after his decision. "You aren't going to make it. You aren't going to make it."
But he has made it, albeit without making the big bucks of a first-rounder.
His reason for giving up football was simple.
"I just love basketball," he said flatly after practice on Tuesday.
Celtics teammate Scot Pollard shuddered at the thought of "Big Baby" playing high school football.
"A high school kid would be terrified," he said, shaking his head. "They might have brown pants! (They'd think) 'I'm getting out of the way guys!' "
Short for an NBA power forward (listed as 6-9, he's probably actually closer to 6-7) and not much of a leaper, Davis' draft stock dipped. That fanned the flames again that he might revert to his football roots. After all, Antonio Gates went from college power forward to NFL All-Pro and another successful tight end, Seattle's Marcus Pollard, was a basketball player at Bradley.
Big Baby said it was basketball or bust.
"No. Never, never, never," he said of possibly switching to football after this three all-star years at LSU. "If I wasn't doing this, I'd get a job. And it wouldn't be football."
Still, some will never budge that the gridiron is where he belongs. Despite not playing his final high school season, he was still ranked among the top 100 prospects in the country.
Even his high school coach, Wayne Williams, said in a New York Times article last year, "I still believe he made the wrong decision."
In that same article Les Miles, who recently guided LSU to the national title, said, "Physically, he has all the natural skill that any football coach wants."
Miles admitted in 2005 he tried to persuade Big Baby to play for him.
The one knock on Davis is that he might lack that football toughness. That's where the Big Baby moniker came from his Pop Warner days. He was more potential - off the charts potential - than reality. He didn't even make the Advocate of Baton Rouge's all-area team as a junior.
Could Big Baby have made it in the NFL?
"What do you think?" he asked dismissively.
One look at those tree trunk calves, which are bigger than most men's thighs, and I'm in the he-would-have-made-it camp.
Like his West Point namesake, University Laboratory High's Mr. Outside could run the ball.
As he said, "I could run the ball. Look at the tape."
A writer who saw a highlight tape raved about him hurdling a defender. So he was the world's biggest hurdler and running back.
By his recollection he rushed for "about 1,500 yards and 22 TDs."
Although Advocate writer Robin Fambrough did some research for me and said, "I think his memory definitely got the best of him."
She said he rushed for 997 yards and scored 15 TDs as a junior. Still, not too shabby for somebody who was literally twice as big as many high school backs.
Fambrough said, "They were strictly a running team, but I'd have thrown it to him."
Indeed, he caught 13 passes for an impressive 257 yards. That's almost 20-yards a catch!
He would have been quite a catch for any big-time football program. But Big Baby was the ultimate big one that got away. For that, the Celtics are grateful.
Michael Muldoon is sports editor of The Eagle-Tribune. E-mail him at email@example.com.
A belated Merry Christmas to Packers defensive tackle Johnny Jolly, Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler of Santa Claus, Ind., Packers defensive tackle Vonnie Holliday and University of New Hampshire football coach Alex Grinch.
Merrimack nabs blue-chipper
All-time state field hockey scoring leader Lauren Gonsalves of Harwich, who scored 149 career goals, announced she'll be attending Merrimack. She scored 56 goals this fall. ... Congrats to Hank Sanders of Salem and the organizers of the Joe Yukica Coaches' Huddle in Manchester, where retiring Londonderry coach Tom Sawyer was sent off in style. Pinkerton's Brian O'Reilly (Division 1) and Pelham's Tom Babaian (Division 5) were also honored for guiding their teams to state titles.
Veteran Pinkerton coach Bryon Murphy e-mailed to give an addition to the recent list of local national champions. Pinkerton's Bill Robertson helped Adelphi to the 1995 Division 2 lacrosse national title. How much does Robertson, a realtor in Derry, love his alma mater? He owns Adelphi Homes Inc. ... Not to be morbid, but which approaching 400 pounds football coach do you have in the death pool, Kansas' Mark Mangino or Maryland's Ralph Friedgen?
Big day for Waldie, Sullivan
Musings birthday greetings go out to North Andover softball star Candace Waldie, who turns 16 today, and ex-Central Catholic AD Mike Sullivan, who is celebrating his 70th birthday today. Belated birthday wishes go to ex-NHLer Scott Pellerin of Windham (38 on Wednesday) and pro golfer Rob Oppenheim of Andover (28 yesterday.)