Editor’s note: The Washington Wizards selected G Johnny Davis with the No. 10 pick in the first round of the 2022 NBA Draft on June 23.
MADISON, Wis. (BVM) – Johnny Davis burst onto the national scene this college basketball season, quickly becoming one of the top players in the nation. To many people it was a surprise, but to those who knew Davis, the fact that it took until his sophomore year to do this was a surprise.
“To be honest with you, it probably was his freshman year that was more surprising in a lot of ways than this year was,” Davis’ high school basketball coach at La Crosse Central, Todd Fergot, said.
As a freshman, Davis came off the bench on a senior-heavy Badger team. He would show spurts of what he could potentially be, but even so, his output as a sophomore was far beyond most people’s expectations.
Davis averaged 19.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists and led Wisconsin to a share of a Big Ten Title. He was a consensus All-American, Big Ten Player of the Year and a finalist for the Wooden Award as well as a Lute Olson Award finalist. Following this season, he declared for the draft on ESPN’s ‘The Jump’ and is projected to be a lottery pick.
“That certainly was a goal of his for a really long time but to be honest, he never really doubted that it would happen,” Fergot said. “I mean he’s such a competitive kid; we just envisioned that this would take place someday and it’s great that it’s happening as soon as it is.”
It happened quickly but the writing was on the wall. Davis has plenty of moments on his resume that suggested he would be the player he has become. The problem was he could never get any attention prior to this year.
One of the best examples of Davis giving a preview of what he would become was during his senior year at La Crosse Central. In a game that took place at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (UWL) during the Midwest Players Classic, Davis stole the show against two other lottery picks.
Although Minnehaha Academy beat the Riverhawks, 73-64, Davis had 42 points and 10 rebounds against a team that featured Jalen Suggs and Chet Holmgren. Suggs was the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2020 and the No. 5 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, while Holmgren was the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2021 and is expected to be a lottery pick along with Davis in the 2022 NBA Draft.
“He was the best player on the floor,” Fergot said. “I have people from UWL tell me that was the biggest crowd they’ve ever had at any of their games ever at that facility.”
However, that wasn’t the only time that year that Davis shined amongst the top talent in the country. He made the all-tournament team in the Montverde Academy Invitational Tournament that featured Cade Cunningham, Scottie Barnes, Day’Ron Sharpe and Moses Moody.
“Johnny was as good, if not better, than any of them,” Fergot said.
Davis still didn’t get the recognition he deserved from those impressive outings but that only gave him more motivation. It pushed him to work harder and more than likely made his sophomore season at Wisconsin even more likely to happen.
“He’s always kind of been under the radar a little bit and that is something that even from a young age on, he’s had that chip on his shoulder,” Fergot said.
That chip combined with his natural competitiveness has gotten Davis to this point. Fergott has said as much when NBA scouts have reached out to him over the last few months.
“I said he is the most competitive player at any level,” Fergot said. “He wants to win every single time he touches the floor.”
Davis’ work ethic and competitiveness should set him up for success but he will have to do without one of his biggest supporters: his twin brother Jordan.
“I think this is going to be hard for him not being with Jordan because they’ve played together every year,” Fergot said. “We had them in our program when they were 4 years old so every year since they were 4 they’ve been on the same team.”
It will take some getting used to but Johnny is the kind of player that will thrive at the next level. His ability to play on both ends of the court at a very high level along with a 6-foot-5 frame means he will be an asset for any team that drafts him.
Johnny has been waiting a long time to finally get on the radar and now that he is, it doesn’t look like he’ll get off of it anytime soon.
“I wouldn’t bet against him,” Fergot said. “He’s a very driven, very competitive individual.”