In a statement released Wednesday, fifth-year guard Brad Davison announced that he would be returning to the Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team for a final season. The 21-year-old Davison said “there is no place I would rather be than Madison,” and that he’s “grateful” to have the chance for one final season.
This extra year of eligibility was granted by the NCAA to all players who participated in the COVID-riddled 2020-21 college basketball season. Davison is the only member of the Badgers’ veteran roster who took this option to return to Madison. Micah Potter, D’Mitrik Trice and Nate Reuvers all opted to turn professional while Trevor Anderson and Walt McGrory opted to seek more playing time elsewhere. Anderson will play next year at Valparaiso and McGrory will play at South Dakota.
Davison’s career at Wisconsin has been complicated. He has started 124 of the 128 games that he’s played, but hasn’t really met the standards he set for himself his freshman year. His freshman season saw him notch career highs in points and assists per game as well as field goal percentage en route to a spot on the Big Ten All-Freshman team.
While starting all 31 games the Badgers played in 2020-21, Davison posted a career-low 34.5% shooting percentage, in part thanks to an abysmal season from two-point range. But as usual with Davison, that’s far from the full story.
Despite the low shooting percentage, Davison had a career-best season from distance, shooting 38.9%, a full three percent higher than his previous best. In addition, Davison did a much better job taking care of the ball than he had in the past; 2.4 assists and 0.9 turnovers per game gave him a 2.7 assist/turnover ratio, by far the best of his career. And even with a career low in free throw attempts, Davison missed only ten free throws the entire season to give him a career-best free throw percentage of 86.8%.
There’s no debate that those numbers, while good, aren’t magnificent. But as anyone close to the Badgers will tell you, the numbers barely scratch the surface of what Davison brings to his team.
Brad Davison is the kind of player you’d love to have on your team, but hate to play against. His reputation precedes him across the Big Ten, but inside the Kohl Center he’s one of the most beloved players on the team. This was exemplified last season after the Badgers lost to Iowa in part thanks to a controversial foul call, sending head coach Greg Gard into an incredibly rare outburst in support of Davison.
Wisconsin’s roster next season will look drastically different from the old souls that populated the court last season. Youth will be plentiful at the guard spots thanks to incoming freshman Chucky Hepburn and sophomore Lorne Bowman II, who sat out last year due to personal reasons. The pair of big men that Badger fans grew to know for years, Potter and Reuvers, are both gone as well, opening the door for Steven Crowl and Ben Carlson down low.
Davison and freshman Jonathan Davis represent the only two rotation players from last year who are set to return to Madison. The rest of the Badgers’ 2021-22 roster will include new recruits, players that rode the bench, and perhaps a few transfers. Davison’s return gives a sense of sameness and consistency to the coaching staff and Badger fans alike: an usher into the new age of Wisconsin basketball.