Thursday night allowed Johnny Davis to take a deserved pause in the craziness that has become his life in the world of basketball.
It gave him a moment — but not much more than that — to think about how he got to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. There hadn’t been much time for that leading up to the NBA draft.
Davis spent that being pulled from all directions by league personnel, local and national media and coaches who wanted to help the 6-foot-5 guard show possible future employers what he can do.
That’s where the hours of practice time he’d spent nearly every year of his life were going to pay off. The hours on the road with his La Crosse Central High School teammate and AAU teammates. The hours he spent with his twin brother, Jordan, to make themselves as good as they could be.
In the weeks leading up to the draft, he was measured, weighed and tested to allow scouts and coaches to determine what all of those numbers really mean.
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Can he be a shooting guard or will he have to play a role at the point? Is he tall enough to defend in the post and rebound effectively on that level?
The Washington Wizards pieced together all of this information and decided Davis was a solid addition to their roster, so they selected him with the 10th pick.
Now, the real work begins.
The pressure is cranked up, and the workload increases exponentially. He now prepares to play with and against the best of the best, not just those in his age group. He tries to establish a camaraderie with teammates who battle each other not only for playing time but sometimes a job.
Davis has never struggled with hard work before, and he has always thrived in big situations.
That’s what produced performances like the 42-point, 10-rebound game he had against a Minnehaha Academy team that included Jalen Suggs (Orlando Magic) and Chet Holmgren (Oklahoma City’s No. 2 pick on Thursday) — among others — as nearly 3,000 people packed UW-La Crosse’s Mitchell Hall on a Saturday night in February of 2020.
A commitment to defense — even considering the offensive prowess that comes with it — is what those closest to Davis truly believe he is up for the challenge.
It’s what makes Todd Fergot talk about a summer game Central played against Sun Prairie and its star Jalen Johnson, who played collegiately at Duke and competes currently for the Atlanta Hawks.
“Johnny guarded Jalen and had him so frustrated that Jalen actually quit playing before the game was over,” Fergot said. “He walked off the floor.”
Davis won’t get any of his NBA opponents to walk off the floor, but he can focus on making them uncomfortable. Doing that, though, won’t be easy.
“His defense is what will keep him on the floor, and he takes pride in that,” Mark Davis said of his 20-year-old son. “He’ll be able to guard the 1, 2 or 3 spots.
“If you look at him, you may not think he’s strong, but I’ve seen him switch to (6-foot-9) Trayce Jackson-Davis (of Indiana) and push him out of the post. He switched onto (7-foot-1) Hunter Dickinson (of Michigan) and pushed him out of the post. Johnny’s gonna fight.”
He has done that for everything he's earned, and there's no reason to think it will change.
Social media reacts to Wisconsin star Johnny Davis' selection in the NBA Draft
Commissioner's announcement of Johnny Davis
Washington Wizards announce selection of Wisconsin's Johnny Davis in NBA Draft
Wisconsin men's basketball celebrates it's first NBA Draft pick since 2015
Johnny to be 'living out his dream'
Happy he got picked in the top 10.. Not as happy with him going to the Wizards.. Best of luck Johnny living out your dream! 👍👍😃💪🏻💪🏻— Paul Bergum (@paul_bergum) June 24, 2022
A Badger fan's wishful thinking?
Should have stayed in school!— TDGB (@TDGB13) June 24, 2022
Who? Probably a lot of Badgers fans
Happy for him, but who watches Washington Wizards basketball?...— Jason (@JasonGeldon) June 24, 2022
Johnny joins Badgers royalty
Valid point, but it's all relative
It’s expensive to live there— David Witkiewicz (@thedurvid) June 24, 2022
Celebrities upset Davis didn't fall to Knicks?
Avoiding New York dysfunction?
Better than the Knicks— Jorgie19 (@EricJorgenson2) June 24, 2022
Teammates supporting from Madison
Remember the Alamo?
Would have really like to see him go at 9 to the Spurs. That would’ve been a great situation for him. Still happy for him!— Jordan Love Bookmarks (@BookmarkerLove) June 24, 2022
Spurs and Badgers fan has his thoughts
Spurs need big men. Great organization but loaded with guards and no big men. Doesn’t fit their need but sadly I’m a badger in San Antonio and wanted the unlikely to happen. I am not a fan of our pick at 9— Nick Askey (@thekickaskey) June 24, 2022
A worthwhile choice
Sad to see him go but as a top ten pick, he definitely made the right choice.— Dan Tombasco (@Tombasco) June 24, 2022
An early NBA comparison for the former Badger
Big night for the Big Ten
Jaden Ivey, Keegan Murray and Johnny Davis — all scoring wings or guards — now carry the banner for a Big Ten that has a rep for not being ideal for such players.— Brian Neubert — NIL truther and COVID year troll (@brianneubert) June 24, 2022
A Wizards reporter's thoughts
Johnny Davis' standout skill is his feel for the game with the ball in his hands. Really good in the halfcourt, knows how to get defenders off balance and create shots. Also a high motor defender. Shot 30% from 3PT last year, so that will be an area for growth.— Chase Hughes (@ChaseHughesNBCS) June 24, 2022
More Big Ten love from a Big Ten great
The Big Ten had some dudes this year. Three guys drafted in the top 10…more coming in the first round— Robbie Hummel (@RobbieHummel) June 24, 2022
The La Crosse Tribune's Todd Sommerfeldt can be reached at email@example.com or via Twitter @SommerfeldtLAX