Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis Rises to Star – CBS Baltimore

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Wisconsin’s guard, Johnny Davis, drove to the basket with the ferocity he used to show when running past defenders like a high school quarterback.

Davis’ emergence as the Big Ten player of the year and the possibility of winning the NBA lottery are among the biggest surprises of college basketball this season. The 6-foot-5-year-old sophomore believes his playing experience has made him a better basketball player.

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Wisconsin Badgers guard Johnny Davis drives down the field during the Men's Big Ten college basketball game between the Michigan State Spartans and the Wisconsin Badgers on March 11, 2022, at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN.

Wisconsin Badgers guard Johnny Davis drives down the field during the Men’s Big Ten college basketball game between the Michigan State Spartans and the Wisconsin Badgers on March 11, 2022, at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“Playing the ball and shooting, especially as a quarterback, it just prepares you for that physicality and allows you to get knocked down and come back really quickly,” Davis said.

Davis averaged 19.7 points and 8.2 rebounds to win the Associated Press All-America first team title and help Wisconsin win a share in the Big Ten title. Davis’ Badgers (24-7) placed third in the NCAA Midwest Region and played Friday with Colgate (23-11) in Milwaukee.

“I think people appreciate him for being an incredible goalscorer, but he’s an incredible basketball player,” teammate Brad Davison said. “He does everything. Defense. Recuperate. He’s not out there (just) trying to score. He’s trying to win.”

Johnny Davis and his twin brother – reserve guard Jordan Davis – were Wisconsin basketball teammates who played together at La Crosse Central High School (Wisconsin). Johnny is the midfielder while Jordan plays the receiver.

They played at the suggestion of their father, Mark Davis, who had 31 games with the Milwaukee Bucks between 1988-1989 and played professional basketball for 13 seasons. He wants his kids to play more sports than specialize in one sport.

Mark Davis said Jordan was originally a more physical basketball player while Johnny relied on dexterity. Football helped Johnny learn to touch.

“Even when we tried to get him to do some ski runs in football and run over the limit, he was ready (saying), ‘Hey, if we need that pitch, I’ll run him. come over and take that pitch,” said Tony Servais, his high school football coach.

That attitude eventually carried over to basketball.

Mark Davis said: “Football taught him to be tougher. “That’s why, when he drove to the basket, the contact meant nothing to him. He will play through it. “

That approach may have its limitations.

Davis injured his left ankle during Wisconsin’s regular season finale when he clumsily landed in the driveway after being shot in the face by Nebraska’s Trey McGowens. Davis returned to the Big Ten but shot 3/19 in a quarterfinal loss to Michigan State.

Davis said the ankle is fine for now.

The Davis twins aren’t the only Wisconsin basketball players with soccer experience. Davison and D’Mitrik Trice – who played at Wisconsin from 2016-21 – were a high school quarterback. Subs up front Carter Gilmore is a wide receiver.

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“We’re going to recruit kids, and they’ll say, ‘Hey, now that you’ve given me a scholarship and I’m probably going to be a Division I player, should I stop playing football?’ Wisconsin assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft said. “We would say, ‘No. Is not. Continue to play ball. And if you don’t play football, maybe that’s something you should try. ‘ It translates. ”

While football improved Davis’ toughness, his desire was never an issue. That was evident from his elementary school days, when he and his twin brother raced home to play one-on-one every day.

Jordan Davis said: “I would have a nosebleed, or he would have a nosebleed, or a cut on our knee or something like that.

His confidence became more apparent after he helped American Basketball win gold at the FIBA ​​U19 World Cup last summer. Davis averaged 7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 24.4 minutes on Wisconsin’s senior team last season. After being selected to that World Cup team, Davis went back to school knowing he could make a much bigger impact.

“It’s not that he might not think he’s the best player in the gym, but you can see it on his face the first day he’s back,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said. “It was like, ‘Whoa. YES.’ Confidence is the biggest thing, just the swagger he’s back.”

Even so, Davis did not anticipate this level of success. So is his father.

Mark Davis said: “I was expecting maybe a player to score 15 points. “We’ll probably finish fifth, sixth, seventh in the Big Ten and he’s had a good season in the position where we’d expect, ‘Here’s what we have to do to train. focused on drafts for next season, which will likely come out after his senior year. ‘”

Davis is instead a probable top 10 pick in this year’s draft.

The Maui Invitational acts as a catalyst. Davis averages 23.7 points in wins over Texas A&M, Houston and Saint Mary’s.

“Playing three games in three days is a workout and really gets you together as a team,” says Davis. “I felt it was a turning point for the whole season.”

He hasn’t looked back since his best performance away from home. He had 37 points and 14 rebounds at Purdue, 24 points at Ohio State, 22 points and 15 boards at Illinois, 25 points at Michigan State, and 30 points at Indiana. Wisconsin was 12-3 away from Madison.

“He wants to win every argument or game of cards,” says Krabbenhof. “He is one of those people. He won’t come up from a game unless he wins that game. He’s just such a competitor. Victory motivates him. ”

Like it did when he led a group chat.

Davis said: “I love playing football. “I still remember playing. But I just think I’ve had a better career and there’s more fun for me in basketball. ”


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https://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2022/03/17/johnny-davis-wisconsin-ncaa-tournament-rises-stardom-march-madness/ Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis Rises to Star – CBS Baltimore

Jake Nichol

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