Oftentimes, the best things come in pairs. Jordan and Pippen, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Brady and Belichick and even Shaggy and Scooby dominated their respective fields.
Here at UW, some of the most respected tandems are related not only by athletic feats but by blood.
This coming season, the Davis brothers look to make a splash on the hardwood and become the next distinguished duo of sibling athletes to shine in Madison.
As products of La Crosse Central High School, both Jordan and Jonathan Davis helped guide the River Hawks to a Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division Two state tournament bid in each of their three years as members of the varsity basketball team. In 2017, their squad defeated Cedarburg High School to secure a state title.
The brothers also got a great taste of the Kohl Center home game atmosphere as the WIAA held its tournament on the UW campus each spring from 2017 to 2019.
Both competed as decorated multi-sport athletes prior to their collegiate experience, with Jonathan boasting 6,572 yards through the air and 90 combined touchdowns as quarterback for La Crosse throughout his high school career. Jordan, the beneficiary of his brother’s cannon, pulled in 49 catches for 873 yards and 10 scores his junior year, but a season-ending injury halted his 358-yard, five-touchdown campaign after only three games the next fall.
If they didn’t give opposing schools nightmares after matchups in between the hashes, they sure did when playing hoops.
Jonathan became one of the most accomplished La Crosse Central High School athletes of all time, receiving a nomination to the McDonald’s All-American Game, the 2020 Wisconsin Mr. Basketball award, unanimous first-team all-state selections, first-team all-conference distinctions and conference player of the year as a junior. Not only that, but he concluded his high school basketball tenure as his school’s all-time leading scorer with 2,158 points.
His twin brother garnered a first-team all-conference nod and was selected as the team’s defensive player of the year as a junior, and he racked up 1,101 points, 470 rebounds, 270 assists and 187 steals before graduating La Crosse Central.
On June 15, 2019, the two announced they would compete under Greg Gard and join the Badger family, officially embarking on a Division-One basketball journey and establishing themselves as yet another sibling combo to enter the UW sports realm.
As true freshmen, Jordan and Jonathan appeared in 44 combined contests, with Jordan taking part in 13 and Jonathan competing in 31, throughout the 18–13 campaign, contributing to an invitation to the NCAA Tournament and a matchup against North Carolina.
Jordan, a 6-foot-4 guard, spent most of the season on the scout team, logging 19 total minutes where he showcased his skillset as a defender on the perimeter. Though he didn’t add much to the offensive end, his dedication and attentiveness as a prominent member of the scout squad could result in promising future dividends.
On the other hand, Jonathan recorded seven points and 4.1 rebounds per game over 24.4 minutes in a lead-reserve role last season. He also shot efficiently from distance, with a 38.9% clip behind the arc and about 44% from the field.
The Rivals’ four-star recruit exhibited his tenacity in a bout against Indiana Jan. 7, where he played 41 minutes and notched career highs in rebounds (8) and steals (3). During the offseason, he represented Wisconsin by winning a gold medal for the United States at the FIBA U19 World Cup while playing alongside other national sensations, such as Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren and LSU’s Adam Miller.
As an athletic two-way wing, his potential to elevate into a lead scoring role this season grows each day, and he will undoubtedly serve as a catalyst for the team’s success for the rest of his career in Madison.
Get excited, Badger faithful, because this set of Wisconsin siblings aims to take a substantial leap amidst a tough Big Ten schedule this winter. The Davis brothers are poised to become yet another revered family in UW’s storyline, and I would not blink twice if fans mention them alongside other Madison greats when their time expires.
Other notable sibling athletes
If you’re a Wisconsin football fanatic, the Watts are a household name. In 2010, J.J. Watt led the team in sacks, quarterback pressures, forced fumbles and blocked kicks. As a defensive stud, he was named All-Big Ten first-team, academic All-Big Ten and team MVP.
The Waukesha-native would go on to become the 11th pick in the 2011 NFL draft by the Texans, where he transformed into one of the most feared forces on the defensive end. He moved on to become a five-time First-Team All-Pro, three-time Defensive Player of the Year, two-time NFL sacks leader, 2017 “Sports Illustrated” Sportsman of the Year and Walter Payton Man of the Year.
His younger brother, Derek Watt, played for the Badgers as well, being awarded Academic All-Big Ten Honors from 2012 to 2015 and leading the blocking attack during two of the best single-season rushing performances in school history. The Chargers drafted the fullback with the 198th overall pick in the 2016 draft, and March 26, 2020, Watt signed a three-year contract with the Steelers, joining his brother, T.J. Watt.
T.J. Watt, the third but potentially most tenacious member of the family, shared J.J.’s prowess, where he was awarded a consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection and was slated as a Lott IMPACT Trophy quarterfinalist during the 2016 season.
He started 14 of 27 games over two years in Madison, racking up 70 tackles and 11.5 sacks before being drafted with the 30th overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft by Pittsburgh. In 2020, T.J. won AFC Defensive Player of the Year and earned a first-team All-Pro nod, after becoming the second Watt to lead the NFL in sacks.
On the ice, Brock and Cole Caufield have been nothing short of spectacular. Cole won the 2021 Hobey Baker Award and was the 15th overall pick by the Canadiens in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. He helped the Badgers win the 2020-21 Big Ten regular-season title by finishing as the conference scoring champion and unanimous Player of the Year.
Cole played a big role in Montreal’s Stanley Cup Final run, finishing the postseason with four goals and eight assists.
His older brother, Brock, is currently an alternate captain as a senior and has amassed 32 points over 104 games skating for UW. Brock will play on the top line for UW’s season and will be one of the most important players on a young UW team.
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Keep your eye on the Brunner boys
The Brunner brothers are an intriguing sibling duo to monitor down the line at Camp Randall.
Joe Brunner, 247Sports’ No. 1 recruit in the state of Wisconsin for the class of 2022, is a 6-foot-6, 300-pound offensive lineman with excellent blocking ability and balance up-front.
Joe’s older brother, Tommy, transferred from Northern Illinois to UW a week after Joe committed to becoming a Badger. As an outside linebacker and defensive end during high school, Tommy could provide a spark to both sides of the ball.
The Brunners played at Whitefish Bay High School, where they were both absolute stars. These two have a bright future in Madison and should serve as the next big-time brother duo for UW football.