June 26, 2012— -- Since he began his freshman year at the University of Kentucky, teammates exhorted basketball star Anthony Davis to shave his unibrow. They failed. A year later, as the expected top pick in this week's NBA draft, Davis is aiming to cash in on his refusal.
In anticipation of his imminent rise to national stardom, Davis trademarked the phrases "Raise the Brow" and "Fear the Brow." Widely expected to be drafted by the New Orleans Hornets in Thursday's draft, Davis said he saw profit potential in leaving his eyebrows connected.
"I don't want anyone to try to grow a unibrow because of me and then try to make money off of it," Davis told CNBC. "Me and my family decided to trademark it because it's very unique."
Davis will not even consider splitting his eyebrow in two as he begins racking up endorsements, he told ESPN, a partner of ABC News.
"It changes none whatsoever when I'm in the NBA," he said. "I'm not going to change who I am. It's me."
NCAA rules prevented Davis from exploiting his unibrow's brand value while he was playing for Kentucky, and the school's athletic department kept a tight leash on merchandise celebrating his uncommon facial feature.
Jason Schlafer, the athletic department's marketing director, said he sent about a half dozen cease-and-desist letters and placed twice as many phone calls to vendors who were "sprinting up to the line," close to infringing on the Kentucky Wildcats' trademarks.
At first, he said, he was concerned that T-shirts that said "Bow to the Brow" and "Brow Down" would offend Davis and his family because they "highlighted what may be perceived as a negative feature."
"But then we saw his mother in a 'Fear the Brow' T-shirt, and she had penciled in a unibrow on her face," Schafler said.
Davis played just one season for the Wildcats before becoming a nationally discussed NBA prospect. One of only four freshmen ever to win the NCAA's Most Outstanding Player award, Davis led the Wildcats to their eighth NCAA championship in the 2011-12 season.
On June 15, he signed Arn Tellem of Wasserman Media Group as his agent. Reached Tuesday, Tellem declined to comment.
Davis's only current endorsement is a draft-night deal with Sprint's NBA Android app.