The 2021 season brings a clean slate and new beginnings for the Badgers men’s basketball program. The Badgers will enter camp having lost four of their top five scorers from a season ago. The abundance of vacated minutes will now open up a significant opportunity for a young unproven roster to step into bigger roles.
In recent years the program has had a fairly even shot distribution from players in the rotation, where any night a different player could lead you in scoring. This coming season I expect to see a small shift in this philosophy, leaning a little heavier on second year wing – Jonathan Davis.
Jonathan Davis finished his high school career at La Crosse Central as the all-time leading scorer with 2,158 points. During his senior season, Davis averaged 27.4 points and 9.2 rebounds in route to earning Wisconsin Mr. Basketball honors.
• Three- star prospect per 247 sports
• 164th ranked player in 2020 class (criminally underrated)
• 28th ranked shooting guard
• 3rd ranked player in Wisconsin
As a true freshman Jonathan Davis made an immediate impact and won the trust of Greg Gard. He led the team in steals and averaged 7.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 24.4 minutes per game. His 24.4 minutes were the second most by a Wisconsin true freshman in the last 10 seasons behind only Brad Davison. Jonathan Davis shot 71.4 percent from the free throw line, 38.9% on 3-pointers and ranked third on the team with 17 blocked shots.
Over Wisconsin’s final 13 games, Davis scored in double figures seven times, including a 10-point performance in the NCAA Tournament.
While those numbers might not jump off the page at you, they offered a glimpse of his untapped potential while playing amongst a rotation that featured six seniors. Davis was adapting to the college game and trying to find his niche, which understandably led to him deferring more to the battle tested seniors.
Now, as a sophomore Jonathan Davis is an easy breakout candidate for the Badgers and should be the team’s go-to scorer in 2021-2022.
Offensively Davis has a really strong secondary game, which makes him unique amongst the current construct of the roster. His quick first step allows him to attack defenders off the dribble and catch them sleeping. Wisconsin has been devoid of play-making slasher’s in recent years, but that should change as Davis gains some added responsibility. Davis ability to get to the cup will help bail out the badgers when the offense gets stagnant, which should in turn translate to more opportunities from the charity stripe.
His explosive first step is highlighted in the clip’s below:
He’s also good at finishing through contact:
As we all know, in the badgers base offense the guards are routinetly given oppurtunities in the post should they identitfy a mistmatch. Davis has a nice fadeaway game that we’ll see more of this season. Much like this possession below:
It’ll also be interesting to see if the young badgers decide to push the ball a little more in transition. Davis proved to be a real weapon when he could run the floor and attack the basket:
If Davis is able to take steps to improve at the foul line, stay aggressive and attacking on offense, get to the cup more often, work on his outside shot, and consistently draw fouls the Badgers might just have an All-B1G performer on their hands. It’s a big step going from 6th man to THE man, but Davis has all the tools to do exactly that.
On defense, I would argue that Davis is Wisconsin’s most valuable player. His length, versatility and quickness give him the ability to defend multiple spots on the floor – and defend them at a high level. His length gives him the ability to be a lock-down defender that disrupts passing lanes – which is of high value to coach Gard. His motor and relentless effort on defense are what saw Davis ranked 6th in the conference in steal rate despite being a reserve.
With added minutes and responsibility this coming season, Badger fans should have a front row seat to the ascension of Jonathan Davis – the program’s next star.
It may not happen immediately, so fans need to be realistic about expectations in his sophomore season. It’s a new role and teams will be game planning specifically for Davis, but it’s one that I believe he’s ready for and will grow immensely in as the leader of this program.
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