Johnny Davis picked 10th overall in NBA Draft by Washington Wizards

Johnny Davis Wisconsin Badgers Celebration
Wisconsin's Johnny Davis celebrates after making a shot in a win against Indiana on December 8, 2021 (WISC-TV/Channel 3000)

MADISON, Wis. — After a breakout season that saw him win Big Ten Conference Player of the Year honors, Wisconsin Badgers guard Johnny Davis has been picked tenth overall in the 2022 NBA Draft by the Washington Wizards.

Davis, a native of La Crosse, Wis. who was recruited to Madison along with his twin brother Jordan, is the first Badger to be taken in the first round of the NBA Draft since Frank Kaminsky (ninth overall) and Sam Dekker (18th overall) were both picked in the first round of the 2015 draft.

“My insides just lit up,” he said of the moment the Wizards picked him. “I was very excited for that moment; I’ve been waiting for a long time.”

After averaging seven points per game as a freshman during the 2020-2021 season, Davis became one of the biggest playmakers in the Big Ten during his sophomore campaign, scoring just under 20 points per game while also averaging more than eight rebounds and two assists per game.

Davis said playing on Team USA’s FIBA U19 World Cup team helped him elevate his game to the next level as he played with and against some of the best young players in the world. It also helped him become a name to watch heading into his sophomore season.

He showed flashes of his star potential early in the season, scoring 30 points in the Badgers’ win over Houston in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational tournament. It would be the first of three 30-point games for Davis during the season, including 37 points on the road in an upset of Purdue in West Lafayette, pushing Wisconsin to a 74-69 win that would prove to be a significant factor in the Badgers later winning a share of the conference championship.

Davis helped propel the Badgers to the best start to a season they had seen since the 2014-2015 team that included Kaminsky and Dekker, and the team was able to climb into the Top 10 before Davis became the focal point of opposing defenses and his supporting cast sometimes struggled.

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Wisconsin’s momentum came to a screeching halt late in the year, when Davis was hurt on a flagrant foul against Nebraska and had to leave the game with an ankle injury. Davis was able to return for Wisconsin’s first Big Ten tournament game, but was still slowed by the injury and only shot 3-for-19 from the field as the Badgers lost to Michigan State. Wisconsin was able to hold off an upset bid from Colgate in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, but Davis reaggravated the ankle injury in that game, and he only made 4 of 16 shots from the field in the Badgers’ second-round loss to Iowa State.

Davis declared for the NBA Draft and announced he was signing an agent — thereby ending his NCAA eligibility — at the end of March, saying he was pursuing a lifelong dream. Badgers head coach Greg Gard supported the decision, calling Davis “one of the best to ever play at Wisconsin” and saying he was grateful for everything he had done for the program.

“We are so proud of Johnny for fulfilling his dream of making the NBA,” Gard said in a statement Thursday night. “The Washington Wizards are getting a proven winner, and the most competitive player in this draft class. I’ve always said that Johnny’s best trait is his competitive drive, which will help him stand out at the next level. Playing for the University of Wisconsin meant something special to Johnny, and tonight meant something special to his state and our program.”

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Davis is just the fifth Badgers player in the last 20 years to be drafted in the first round, joining Kaminsky and Dekker, Alando Tucker (2007) and Devin Harris (2004), and the 11th in program history.