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'Everything I do is for them': Former Wisconsin star Johnny Davis' main motivation is family

Davis said his family come up in every interview he had with an NBA coach last week at the NBA draft combine.

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Wisconsin
Wisconsin Badgers guard Johnny Davis (1) dribbles the ball past Nebraska Cornhuskers guard Trey McGowens (2) on Sunday, March 6, 2022, at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis.
Mary Langenfeld / USA TODAY Sports
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CHICAGO — Former University of Wisconsin men's basketball star Johnny Davis said his dream of playing in the NBA started almost as soon as he was handed a basketball.

He is five weeks away from making that a reality — putting on a hat of the team that selects him June 23 at the NBA draft in Brooklyn, New York.

It's his family that motivates him as he pursues his dream. They have come up in every interview he had with an NBA coach last week at the NBA draft combine.

"My family, I speak very highly of them," Davis said Thursday, May 19. "Everybody's pretty shocked about that — having two sets of twins in the family. I just want them to know that I'm gonna be a respectful person. I'm very friendly and may not seem like it on the court. But you know, I have a life outside of basketball."

The Davis family has believed in Johnny's ability to achieve the dream longer than most. Mark Davis, Johnny's father, made a bold statement about his son after the 2020-21 season, when Johnny came off the bench for the Badgers.

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"You can quote me if you want to: Jonathan Davis is going to be in the NBA in one to two years, guaranteed," Mark Davis said at the time. "That is his mindset. Next year, they're going to concentrate on winning the Big Ten, trying to get as far as they can in the NCAA Tournament and hopefully see where he fits in the draft."

The dream has changed over the years. First it was to be a first-round pick, then upgraded to go in the first five picks. Now it's to be a lottery pick.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament Second Round-Wisconsin vs Iowa State
Wisconsin Badgers guard Johnny Davis (1) shoots the ball on Sunday, March 20, 2022, during the second half against the Iowa State Cyclones in the second round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wis.
Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports

Davis admitted Thursday getting drafted always was in the back of his mind, despite regularly saying during this past season he wasn't thinking about it and wanted to stay focused on the moment.

He said he finally allowed himself to realize that he could be a lottery pick only after the season ended.

His agents with Excel Sports Management encouraged him to leave UW and not finish his sophomore year of school, so he traveled to Los Angeles and Miami to train.

"I just feel like I've still got something to prove," he said. "Never get too complacent, get too high at all. Just really enjoying the process and just staying in the moment."

Davis was disappointed not to compete in scrimmages during the combine but recognized it wasn't worth the risk, especially since he played the last few weeks of the college season injured.

He was in Chicago last week meeting with NBA teams. But it's meant he's been away from his family, most notably twin brother Jordan.

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Next season will be the first season the pair won't play on the same team. But Johnny has tried to keep Jordan up to date on what's happening in Chicago. Johnny texts Jordan after every interview, and Jordan will join Johnny in Miami for part of the summer to train.

Johnny is expected to get picked in the first 10 picks, although he joked he could go anywhere between No. 1 and No. 60. One thing remains constant: His mind will be on his family when he finally achieves his dream.

"I'll just be thinking of my parents," Davis said. "They were able to put me in this position, they raised me to be the man I am today. And everything I do is for them."

© 2022 The Wisconsin State Journal

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