If this year’s Badgers Men’s Basketball team were a state, it would be South Dakota. Nationally, South Dakota is seen as a flyover team with few recognized names. The fact that the team has a freshman from the state of South Dakota also helps.
Even with national media being reasonably naïve about the Badgers’ characteristics, one player who has worked his way into the national dialogue is Brad Davison, a returning fifth-year senior from Maple Grove, Minnesota. The main reason for Davison’s national attention is equal parts his skill and his evident baller mentality. Davison tries to get every inch out of his game — from bounding steps back to flamboyant charges.
While no announcer can go through a Badger’s broadcast without mentioning Davison’s history as a high school quarterback, that is probably the only constant in the 22-year-old’s career.
On a personal level, covering Davison strikes as odd because looking into his career brings back memories of myself as a young Badger fan watching Davison play his entire 2017 season with a dislocated shoulder.
In a year that saw extensive injury, Davison was one of the several red shirts who Coach Greg Gard had to burn to field a competitive team. Davison was joined in this group by players who were touchstones of the previous season, including Nate Reuvers who had a storied career with the team. Davison was the star among these talents, becoming one of only two other Badgers to average double figures in their freshman season.
Over the last six years, Davison has racked up even more accolades, including scratching the 1,000-career-points mark while making the NCAA tournament in every season except for his freshman year and the COVID-19 season, which saw the Badgers bring home a Big Ten Championship.
Along with these, Davison was a major player in last year’s NCAA opening-round win against North Carolina in which he solidified his role as a shifty scoring threat or as I call him, “Step Back Brad.”
With a boatload of on-court success as Davison goes into his final season with the Badgers, some massive impacts can be seen outside the Kohl Center. For one, the known veteran is slated to get married in the summer. Along with this, Davison has always had an upstart and passionate demeanor, but this year he looks more like a proud father as he mentors juniors Tyler Whal and Jhonny Davis as they grow into their new leadership roles with the team.
Lastly, Davison can be seen as a catalyst for a new influx of Minnesotan Talent to the Badgers, typified by the fact that before his arrival, the 2016 roster only had two players from the Gopher state compared to a combined eight in the six years Davison has been a Badger.
When asked about this Minnesotan identity as a Badger, Davison said, “I take pride being able to play in front of fans, friends, and family that I grew up around.”
While this family may have started around a table in Maple Grove, it has truly expanded to the whole of Wisconsin, as Badger fans hope to see a little more of “Step Back Brad” in what proves to be a truly heartfelt last run in the red and white.
Editor’s note: The story previously mentioned this basketball season would be Brad Davison’s sixth season. We have updated the headline as of Nov. 10, 2021 6:20 p.m. to reflect that 2021-22 will be Davison’s fifth season.