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NBA draft: Davis family celebrates Johnny's big night

There was a long build to the Thursday, June 23, NBA draft at the Barclays Center, and the Davis family navigated it together.

NBA: Draft
Johnny Davis (Wisconsin) shakes hands with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected as the number ten overall pick by the Washington Wizards in the first round of the 2022 NBA Draft at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY on Thursday, June 23.
Brad Penner / USA TODAY Sports
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LA CROSSE — Mark Davis nearly cried, Stephen A. threw a fit, and Johnny Davis just smiled as he moved from one family member to the next and accepted hug after hug after hug.

There was a long build to the Thursday, June 23, NBA draft at the Barclays Center, and the Davis family navigated it together.

Then, a little more than an hour after the festivities began, Johnny was a Washington Wizard and the toast of the nation's capital. A few hours after that, everyone was exhausted, and Central High School boys basketball coach Todd Fergot was getting his picture taken in a New York City club with Flavor Flav.

Draft night — no matter the sport — is supposed to be memorable for everyone involved because it only happens once, and Thursday probably couldn't have gone any better for the Davis clan as it celebrated Johnny's big moment.

One person who didn't celebrate the selection was ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith, an admitted fan of the New York Knicks who doubled as one of the analysts for ABC's broadcast of the first round.

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The Knicks held the No. 11 pick, and the Wizards snapped up Davis at No. 10.

"Damn," he growled after commissioner Adam Silver said Johnny's name. "That's who I wanted them to get."

While some of what happened around his selection strayed from expectations, Davis joined a program with which he is familiar after performing a pre-draft workout for it on June 2. While some mock drafts dropped Davis a few pegs in recent days, many stuck with Washington as his destination, and they turned out correct.

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Mark Davis, Johnny and Jordan's dad, said last week that his son being selected anywhere from fifth (Detroit) to 10th would be good news.

"From five to 10, he could go to any one of those teams, and I'd be happy for him," said Mark, who didn't anticipate joining Johnny on stage after the selection but found himself there with his wife, Sarah, anyway. "I would have no hesitation whatsoever with any of those teams."

Davis projects to play plenty of minutes for Washington, which was 35-47 last season and have qualified for the playoffs once in the past four years. The Wizards haven't had a winning season since 2017-18 and haven't won a playoff series since 2016-17.

Bradley Beal, a 6-4 guard, is the undeniable star of the team, and he is reportedly opting out of his contract. That doesn't mean he won't be back, and he could very well return with a bigger payday to provide quality tutelage for Davis.

"Watching him, you know, play with pace and shoot the ball," Davis told Wizards media after the draft, "is almost like looking at a work of art."

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Beal, a three-time all-star with a career scoring average of 22.1 points per game since joining Washington as a 19-year-old rookie in 2012-13. He averaged 23.2 points, 6.6 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game last season.

Center Kristaps Porzinga and forwards Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma were also regular starters for the Wizards in 2021-22. That trio combined to score more than 50 points and 20 rebounds per game.

They will impact Davis as he adjusts to his surroundings in Washington D.C., but the surroundings on Thursday were much closer to this heart.

Mark Davis said there were more than 25 immediate and extended family members in attendance and lots of friends.

"Too many to count," he added.

The table at the front of the venue included the immediate family. Johnny was flanked by Mark on his right and Sarah on his left. His twin brother Jordan and younger siblings Maxwell and Samantha were there, too.

"Words cannot describe the feeling," Mark said. "We got goosebumps from the excitement of hearing Johnny's name called."

Former Central teammates Terrance Thompson and Noah Parcher also made the trip to support their friend. What they saw was a teammate meet a goal he'd had for years, then become the guest of honor at a club named The Seville.

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That's where Fergot, who drove with his family to Brooklyn during a two-day car trip, had his brush with Flav, a legendary member of Public Enemy and the rap/hip-hop music scene.

"My daughter saw him," Fergot said. "She said I needed to get a picture with him, so I did. It was cool."

Like Flav, Davis was a celebrity in the room after working his way into becoming the Big Ten's player of the year and the star of a new Taco Bell commercial.

People were happy to see him, too, unless it stirred the bad feelings of their team not getting him on its roster.

"The kid out of Wisconsin," Smith said of Davis. "I wanted him."

Todd Sommerfeldt can be reached at todd.sommerfeldt@lee.net or via Twitter @SommerfeldtLAX

(c) 2022 the La Crosse Tribune (La Crosse, Wis.)

Visit the La Crosse Tribune (La Crosse, Wis.) at www.lacrossetribune.com.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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