In his youth, Anthony Davis was a one-dimensional player. He could shoot, and that was about it.
"Most of the coaches on the South Side knew him as the little guy who would shoot threes from the corner in junior high," said Robert Smith, coach of Chicago high school power Simeon, in 2010. "There weren't schools dying to get him on their team."
Davis played guard and grew to 6 feet during his freshman year at Perspectives Charter School. He was 6-4 by the end of his sophomore year and stretched to 6-8 as a junior. Davis has maxed out (we think) at 6-10. By the time Davis got to Kentucky, where he teamed with future NBA players Michael Kidd-Gilcrhist, Terrence Jones, Marquis Teague, Doron Lamb and Darius Miller to win a national championship in 2012, shooting was an afterthought.
"We had a lot of guys who could shoot way better than me," Davis says. "My life was just go to the rim, get a rebound and dunk."
Davis' entire basketball schooling was on display Sunday, when he unloaded 59 points on the Pistons. The inside game Davis developed in Lexington and continues to hone in New Orleans pushed him to a career-high 28 points in the paint. His eight mid-range field goals were a season high.
And his two three-pointers tied a career high.
"It stretches out your game," Davis says. "It helps you drive more when guys have to respect the three. Now, you can drive around them or hit a mid-range. Coaches draw up plays for you and get you to shoot the ball from three.
Davis took a total of 27 three-pointers in his first three NBA seasons. Now in his fourth, he has already made 25 on 81 attempts (.309) in 49 games. Meanwhile his scoring average remains virtually the same from last season, 24.3 now and 24.4 then.
"AD's a great midrange shooter," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said after the 111-106 win. "And if he gets into a rhythm, things like that can happen."
Davis looked like Ray Allen or Reggie Miller outside of the paint.
Anthony Davis' 59 point shot chart pic.twitter.com/6vgr7YbocG
— NBA RETWEET (@RTNBA) February 22, 2016
"One time, Dante [Cunningham] drove the ball and my guy went to go help and he threw it back [for the jump shot]," Davis says. "It's something I work on before every game -- shooting threes. The other thing is I was just feeling it. (Laughs) That was it. The shot inside the three, a mid-range by the foul line, is something I've been working on since I got into the league."
Davis' 59 points were a career high and a Pelicans record, which had been Jamal Mashburn's 50 against the Grizzlies in 2003. Davis says his previous personal high was a 54-point outing in high school. He becomes one of four active players -- the others being Kobe Bryant (five times), Carmelo Anthony (once) and LeBron James (once) -- to score at least 59 points in a game.
Shortly after his record-setting performance, which also included 20 rebounds, Davis called Monty Williams, his coach for his first three NBA seasons. Williams, fired by the Pelicans in May and hired as associate head coach of the Thunder in June, lost his wife, Ingrid, in a car crash on Feb. 10. The car that hit Ingrid was reportedly going 92 mph in a 40-mph speed zone at the moment of impact.
Davis, along with teammates who played for Williams, traveled to Oklahoma City last week for Ingrid's funeral. Davis became close with the Williams family, relying on Monty for guidance. Then Davis harnessed his emotions from Ingrid's tragedy into the greatest basketball performance of his life.
Davis says the call, despite what he had just accomplished, was more about how Williams was doing.
"He means a lot and actually I just talked to him for an hour yesterday, just checking up on him," Davis says. "He's done so much for my career, just helping me out. Growing up in this basketball world at 19 years old, if I had a problem or anything, I knew I could go to him and ask about the situation. He took me fishing before. He's one of these guys who always wanted to make sure everybody was doing okay. We got so close. He knew something was wrong with me every time I tried to deny anything. I'd tell him, 'Nothing coach, I'm all good.' And we'd just sit there and I'd tell him.
"We talked about several things, the game, how he's doing. Just having a conversation."
Davis also penned a four-paragraph tribute to Ingrid and the Williams family in The Cycle.
"I was blessed, really blessed, to have Monty Williams as my coach," Davis writes. "The type of person he is, he cared about me and every member of our team more as human beings than as basketball players. And Ingrid was the same way. They opened their hearts to me. They really became like another set of parents. Anything I needed, if I needed to talk, whatever, they were there. I can’t tell you what that meant to me."
But in a way, Davis kind of showed it. In an emotional week for his mentor, Davis went out and made Monty Williams proud.
Perhaps Ingrid is smiling somewhere too.
Davis spoke to ThePostGame on behalf of H&R Block, the three-time All-Star's first non-sports sponsorship. H&R Block is the official tax service provider of the NBA. Davis filmed a series of subtly hilarious commercials:
-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.