Brad Davison’s dirty play, Kobe King’s defection throw Wisconsin into disarray

Brad Davison is a dirty player.

He’s a cheap-shot artist that has made a habit of cup-checking opponents, and if he was at a program like — oh, I don’t know — Duke instead of Wisconsin, he’d be Public Enemy No. 1 in college basketball instead of a thorn in the side of Big Ten fanbases.

I’ll take it a step further: What Brad Davison is doing is worse than anything Grayson Allen ever did as a member of the Blue Devils. That’s not a defense of Allen, mind you. He behaved like a petulant child, and his inability to control his emotions is the reason he will be remembered as the kid that couldn’t stop tripping people instead of a four-year star that sparked Duke’s most recent national title.

Allen reacted to anger and frustration the same way that my four-year old does, but I don’t believe he was a malicious human being.

Davison is intentionally and deliberately trying to hurt people.

And at this point, I don’t think there’s any other way to say it.

He has now cost the Badgers at least one win.

On Monday night, Wisconsin blew a 12-point lead at Iowa in the final seven minutes. With 30 seconds left, Joe Wieskamp, who was being guarded by Davison, curled off of a screen by Connor McCaffery and scored a bucket to put the Hawkeyes up 62-59. But McCaffery was left in a heap. When the officials reviewed the play, this is what they saw:

That is, as Reags so tactfully puts it, a direct shot to the nuts.

Davison was assessed a Flagrant 1, which gave Iowa two free throws and the ball back. Suddenly, that three-point lead ballooned to seven and the game was over.

“He grabbed me right in the — where you don’t want to be grabbed in,” McCaffery said of Davison after the game. “He does that. He’s marked for doing that. He’s the type of player, unfortunately, who feels the need to do that stuff. Tonight he cost them the game.”

On Wednesday, the Big Ten opted to suspend Davison for Saturday’s game against Michigan State, meaning that the Badgers — who just lost Kobe King, their second-leading scorer — will be without their starting backcourt against the best team in the conference.

More on King in a second, but I think it’s important to note this first: This is not the first time Davison has done this, either. He did the exact same thing to Marquette’s Joey Hauser in a game last season and to Michigan’s Austin Davis in a game the year before that. That are clips floating around the internet of Davison tripping players on Minnesota and Michigan State. Perhaps the most egregious example of Davison’s dirty play happened last season against Minnesota, when he slid his foot under an airborne Jordan Murphy:

This is no different than what Zaza Pachulia did to Kawhi Leonard in Game 1 of the 2017 Western Conference Finals, and if you thought Zaza was trying to injure Kawhi — which plenty of people did — then there is no way you can say different about Davison.

“We will not tolerate behavior that compromises the health and safety of our student-athletes or crosses the line of aggressive, competitive play, especially when a pattern of similar behavior has been previously established,” Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement announcing Davison’s suspension.

Davison is never going to garner the kind of national recognition that Allen, or Steve Wojciechowski, or Christian Laettner did because he’s a nondescript white kid with a buzzcut that takes a bunch of charges for a middle-of-the-pack Big Ten program. When SEC or Pac-12 fans see videos like this going viral, they wonder how in the world Aaron Craft still has eligibility remaining.

There was more national discussion about King’s decision to transfer yesterday than there was about Davison’s antics. Part of that is because Tyler Herro weighed in on the conversation. Part of it is because Andy Katz, on the Big Ten Network, ripped King’s decision to transfer while citing a source that “is very respected within the Badger program.” (I wonder who that can be …)

Meanwhile, Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard released a particularly passive-aggressive statement on the matter, saying “Being a student-athlete in the Wisconsin basketball program is a special privilege and opportunity and I’m disappointed Kobe has chosen to leave.” He has not yet commented on Davison’s suspension or nut-shots, as far as I can tell.

And at some point, you have to ask whether or not those two things played a role in King’s decision to leave Wisconsin.

Is King quitting on Wisconsin? Yes. Is this timing about as bad as it can be? Yes. I can wholeheartedly understand Gard’s frustration.

But King is making a decision that is the best for him professionally — when was the last time a guard reached the NBA from Wisconsin? — and personally — as King said in his statement, “the best step for my … love of the game” is to leave the program and that should not be ignored — and his coach rips him as someone in the program feeds negative information to a TV talking head. Meanwhile, the starting point guard is out here literally losing the team games because he likes to punch opponents in the crotch, and crickets.

If this is how it plays out publicly, what do you think is happening behind closed doors?

And is King the only kid on that roster that’s fed up with it?