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June 17, 2013A.J. Davis knows the expectations. He just chooses to ignore them --- except the ones that matter.
There's plenty of expectation to go around, after all, for Tennessee's 2013 signing class that included Davis, a versatile, Rivals 3-Star forward at 6-foot-8, with 5-Star guard Robert Hubbs and 3-Star point guard Darius Thompson.
Pairing those three with the expected return of Jeronne Maymon from injury, Jarnell Stokes' third season in Knoxville and all-everything Jordan McRae coming back for his senior season leaves the Vols with hype of a team poised for a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, not just an invite.
Still, Davis is paying attention only to the expectations that mean something to him.
"I don't get too caught up in what to expect," Davis said Monday, after scoring nine points in his Pilot Rocky Top League debut at Christian Academy of Knoxville.
"I'm just worried about what my teammates need from me, what my coaches need from me, what they expect more than whatever everybody around expects."
He wasn't worried about the point total either in his News Sentinel team's 109-105 win over DeRoyal Industry. Josh Selby's game-high 50 points, including 30 in the first half alone didn't leave much too worry about on the offensive end.
Summer league or not, his mindset on the court is not set on point totals.
"As long as I play hard, play defense," Davis said. "I'm not too wrapped up in the scoring.
"Even as far as (at) Tennessee, we have great scorers, so that's not really a big role I'm looking forward to. I'm just trying to come out here and play hard, play defense."
That role is yet to be determined for the barely-moved-in Davis, but he's ready for whatever Cuonzo Martin throws at him in his freshman season with the Vols.
"Just really doing whatever the coach needs," Davis said, "whether thats handling the ball a little but more, playing the three, playing the four. Whatever he really needs for us to be successful.
"I'd rather play a little bit on the wing, but I like guarding post players, I like handling the ball. So just what ever coach needs."
The biggest adjustments for Davis have come in morning workouts. And being ready for them hasn't made it any easier.
"I knew it was going to be hard," he said. "It's definitely hard. They push you as hard as you can go everyday. They want you to be the best player possible.
"It's just a great workout every morning. You know you're getting better everyday."
And getting better starts with learning, an everyday goal Davis sets for himself.
"I try to learn something new," he said. "That's a big thing, ever since I came to Tennessee, that was just a big thing ― learning something new every day."
As for the expectations from fans as Davis got his first game minutes in Knoxville Monday in the Rocky Top League, Davis said that just adds to the fun. Those are expectations he can pay attention too.
"That's the exciting part about it. You have to expect that coming in playing in front of Knoxville. That's a great part of it. Getting to see the fans. I love that, personally.
"Everybody was playing hard. It's fun to just get out here and play, really to just get better."