Can Johnny Davis’ play change recruiting for Wisconsin basketball?

Wisconsin Badgers guard Johnny Davis (1) drives to the basket for two of his 25 points Saturday.Mjs 12042021 Uwmen05 Ec00003
Wisconsin Badgers guard Johnny Davis (1) drives to the basket for two of his 25 points Saturday.Mjs 12042021 Uwmen05 Ec00003 /

When you think of Wisconsin basketball, you don’t think of a basketball program that is going to produce any one-and-done players. They aren’t what you would consider a blue-blood program like Duke, Kentucky, or Gonzaga.

No, the Badgers are known more for taking in recruits that need more time to develop their game and spend 3-4 years at Wisconsin. In fact, it’s very rare for a player to leave the program early for the NBA. The last Wisconsin basketball player to do that was Sam Dekker after the 2014-15 season.

The Wisconsin basketball offense isn’t a flashy fast-paced system that rarely depends on playmaking ability to produce points. It’s a take your time and work for a shot in the post offense. Nowadays, that’s not what gets you in the NBA.

Because of that, most top-level recruits won’t even consider Wisconsin as a college destination.

The state of Wisconsin has been producing some high-level talent over the past few years but go to school elsewhere. We’ve seen it a number of times over the past few seasons.

Tyler Herro (2018, no. 38 overall) was committed to Wisconsin but decomitted when he got an offer to Kentucky. He went one-and-done and was a 1st round pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Jalen Johnson (2020, no. 13 overall) chose to go to Duke over Wisconsin to be a one-and-one player.

Patrick Baldwin Jr. (2021, no. 8 overall) kind of broke the mold and went to UW-Milwaukee to play for his father, but Duke was the popular pick for him, not Wisconsin. He will likely be a one-and-done player and be a high pick in this upcoming draft.

Seth Trimble (2022, no. 33 overall) is committed to play for North Carolina and has a good chance at being a one-and-done player. If not, he’ll still declare early for the NBA Draft at some point.

Kids want to get to the NBA as soon as possible and that’s not what Wisconsin does.

Or does it?

Johnny Davis is having a season we haven’t seen a Wisconsin basketball player have in a very long time, or maybe ever. He is the first Badgers to average 20+ points per game since Michael Finley did it in the 1994-1995 season, well before the one-and-done era. His season is catching the attention of everyone around the country. Right now he is considered a high draft pick and some mock drafts have him in the top-10. His ascension is something Wisconsin basketball fans haven’t seen before.

It sucks that he will most likely be gone after this season, but a bi-product of his awesome season is the effect it could have on recruiting. Yes, he isn’t a one-and-done player, but if you think about it, he didn’t get the playing time he deserved last season. This really is his first season as ‘the guy.’ Other recruits might be looking at what Davis is accomplishing at Wisconsin and see that they could also be successful in the program and being a Badger won’t necessarily keep you from getting to the NBA.

We’ve all heard the ‘enjoy Johnny Davis while we have him,’ quote, but it’s true. We absolutely should enjoy what we are seeing now. But we should also be happy if he leaves early and is a high draft pick because that shows the Wisconsin basketball program is capable of producing NBA talent. Because of that, the recruiting for the program will likely benefit as a whole.