Friend and mentor: Off-court relationship helps Moesch mold Davison into future UW star

Senior Aaron Moesch and freshman Brad Davison have become close off the court, allowing Moesch to mentor the young Badger and help him develop into a future star.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger and Cameron Lane-Flehinger

On a recent Friday night, Aaron Moesch and Brad Davison drove to James Madison Memorial High School to see the high school’s performance of its school play, Curtains. The duo was meeting their shared-pastor, Matt Metzger of Blackhawk Church and Metzger’s family, including both his and his wife’s parents, who were all in town to see the pastor’s daughters in the performance.

“It was great,” Davison said. “Musicals are like my guilty pleasure … To sing and memorize all those lines for that amount of time is amazing. It’s a talent I wish I had.”

In a season that features a roster short on basketball talent and has tested the closeness of Wisconsin’s roster, Moesch and Davison have spent a lot of time together away from the court: going to church, watching football, studying and even going to high school musicals. Their growing friendship — one that Metzger describes as a “big brother, little brother” relationship — has been “huge” both on and off the court, Davison says.

On the floor, Moesch, a redshirt senior forward, has played more minutes this year than in his previous three seasons combined. Davison, a freshman, on the other hand, has joined the Badger program running. He’s second on the team in points per game and minutes per game. He’s taken the most 3-point attempts for the Badgers, and only redshirt junior Ethan Happ has taken more shots. Yet Davison cites Moesch, a one-time walk-on, as one of the most important people to his productive freshman year.

“I always love being around him,” Davison said. “I always try to surround myself with people that make me a better person, and I feel like that’s Aaron Moesch.”

While Davison was being recruited to UW, few coaches told him to go out of his way to meet the redshirt senior reserve. Instead, Davison remembers meeting Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig, two of Wisconsin’s best players in recent memory.

It wasn’t until Davison became part of the program this summer that he got to know Moesch. But as the season’s progressed, they’ve started to become closer friends. Together, they visit Metzger’s house on Madison’s West Side for dinner so frequently that Metzger’s wife has multiple bags of frozen corn nibbles ready to be brought out as ice packs if Davison complains of left shoulder pain.

Moesch, according to assistant coach Howard Moore, is a “poster child” of what you want a student-athlete to be. Moore adds that Moesch’s role is often that of a middle-man between the players and the coaching staff. Before Wisconsin’s early-season Thanksgiving trip to Kansas City, Mo., for instance, Moesch said he talked to some of the younger players about the importance of getting their schoolwork completed before they go away and offered to go study with them.

“I remember when he first got here,” Moore said. “No facial hair. Just a big goofy kid from Green Bay. Now he’s a grown man that’s ready to go out here and take on the world.”

Moesch said he remains in contact with former Badgers such as Frank Kaminsky, Sam Dekker and Zak Showalter. Showalter, according to Metzger, occasionally joins the freshman and the senior when they visit Metzger’s house for dinner. So too does redshirt junior point guard T.J. Schlundt, who also is close friends with Metzger.

And though he’s only a freshman, Moesch says that Davison is one of the core leaders and “hearts of the team.” He applauds Davison’s ability to step into the leadership void caused by the departures of Koenig, Hayes, Showalter and Vitto Brown. Moesch also highlights the freshman point guard’s grit, as he plays, for all intents and purposes, with just one arm following his injury.

“He’s a great kid,” Moesch said. “The program’s gonna be in great hands if stays here for the next three years, which he will.”

Metzger, who is in a group text with Davison, Moesch and Schlundt and tries to send them texts before and after every game to support them, says the team seems to have remained close despite their recent string of losses. Inside the program, as Wisconsin continues to struggle on the court, multiple players have acknowledged the importance of staying together as one unit. Even former Badger head coach Dick Bennett stressed the importance of unified resilience when he spoke to the team after a recent practice.

Moesch will graduate from Wisconsin this May. Davison, on the other hand, will be relied upon to help return UW to the level of play that those in and around the program come to expect for the past two decades.

The outgoing senior, though, does have one major gripe with his younger counterpart.

“Brad’s awesome,” Moesch said. “ But the fact that he’s a Vikings fan kind of stinks.”

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