I was wanting to write a piece outside of the usual pregame/postgame stuff. So I thought I would start a series of posts throughout the season, in an attempt to simply gas up our guys. I know they may not read any of the following nonsense, but I want to send out the good intentions nonetheless. For the first person I am choosing to gas up, I wanted to take a look into Trayce and his time at Indiana. So please be warned, all that follows are the mad musings of a Hoosier fanboy. Onto Trayce…
When our highly touted recruit, rocking #4 stepped foot on campus, his impact was immediately felt. The 6 foot 9 inch recruit out of Center Grove was the second consecutive (first being Romeo Langford) Indiana Mr. Basketball to sign with Archie Miller and the Indiana Program. Simply landing Trayce Jackson-Davis was one of the highlights of Archie’s tenure with Indiana. Landing in-state recruits is essential to the success of any team, this was a solid recruit landed by Archie any way you cut it (understatement of the century). Entering his freshman season, Trayce had plenty of expectations. The young man had the opportunity to make an immediate impact in the state of the program, and he proceeded to do just that. From day 1 Trayce brought a maturity to the Indiana locker room immediately. His athleticism, aggressiveness, and touch in the paint were on full display in high school, and Hoosier fans were excited to see it working for their team.
For the Hoosiers in the 2019-2020 season, Trayce saw time in 32 games. Immediately stepping up and making his presence felt. He displayed an inherent touch and mastery of interior footwork as he relied on that in route to 57% shooting on the season. In his first season the Hoosiers finished 10th in the Big Ten. Trayce was immediately making an impact on the Indiana team. Throughout the season, Trayce Jackson-Davis stood out as the Hoosier centerpiece. While he didn’t have nearly the expectations of Romeo enter college, Trayce immediately stood out and stepped up. In his freshman season Trayce led the Hoosiers in scoring with 13.5 points per game, rebounding with 8.4 a game, and blocks with 1.9. Trayce’s freshman season was a revalation of his potential, but if Indiana was to become anything other than mediocre Trayce would need to be a crucial part in getting Indiana back to championship contention.
Even after his freshman season, the NBA draft was an option for Trayce. While entertaining the thought of entering the draft, Trayce ultimately returned for his freshman season. Thank Christ for that. Entering his sophmore season Trayce was already being honored as a second team preseason All-American. His game was being noticed, even if Indiana wasn’t. After his freshman year the question of both his right handed game and his range began to pop up? Would Trayce be able to develop a complete game in year 2? He would for sure have every opportunity to do so, with Indiana becoming more and more guard heavy. The success of Indiana was already predicated on the success of Trayce Jackson-Davis.
In Trayce’s second season rocking the candy stripes he was able to average 19 points and 9 rebounds. A true double double threat, Trayce was living up to every bit of the billing that comes with a second team All-American nod. He ended the season with 52% from the field. A slight decrease from his freshman season. He did step up and deliver far more distribution, showing off the work out of the post that would continue for the Hoosiers. He looked to deliver a solid season based on his touch around the rim.
What followed that season was the firing of Archie Miller. The hiring of Mike Woodson meant a new regime in Bloomington. Would Trayce take to the new leadership in town? Mike was ultimately able to convince Trayce to come back (THANK THE LORD!!!!). Attached is a short clip I took at a Big Brothers fundraiser Mike was speaking at. This was him talking about sitting with the team and Trayce (sorry for the crappy camera work). Mike was able to convince Trayce to stay and the team fell in line.
Heading into his junior season, Trayce was firmly cemented as the captain of the Indiana Hoosiers. He set the tone of each side of the floor providing competent frontcourt production while being the centerpiece of the Indiana defense. Trayce was already firmly implanted by many as an All-Time Hoosier “good”. Only thing keeping him from great was any hardware. So even though a new head coach would usually spell for a tough first season. Trayce committed himself to the program and Indiana began its still continuing trend upward. He ended his first NCAA tournament (would have been second if not for the ‘VID) with 59% shooting from the field. He was able to amass 18.3 points a game. Statistically speaking he had been on par with his prior season, if not only slightly less productive offensively. While one could argue a lack of development. I argue he just had a far more sound unit around him. One that was able to contribute slightly more than the prior season’s.
His defensive prowess stepped up that season as well. Trayce was the centerpiece in one of the most stifling defenses in the country.
Throughout Trayce’s first 3 seasons at Indiana he had delivered reliable post play. From day one Trayce made an impact, and his stats were good. Really good. Good enough he was named a preseason All-American. Every single Hoosier fan knew when Trayce was returning for his fourth year, we were in store for the ever reliable play we had grown accustomed to from TJD…
Looking at our preseason expectations now, they seem so small. Trayce has come out in his fourth season to make statement after statement on his way to delivering some legacy cementing hardware in Bloomington. It may be a sample size of six games played by Trayce this season, but all signs point to him having recognized the potential for dominance in his game. He is not messing around this year. TJD is currently shooting 71.2% from the floor. The crazy thing is, you can see where this added percentage is coming from.
In his fourth season Trayce has found a way to convert any and all chances at the rim. Buckets in prior seasons that would hit the back of the rim only to go careening forward are now finding the bottom. Trayce has refined his already elite touch and is leading the Indiana team to an absolutely scorching start to their 2022-2023 campaign. Entering this season, Trayce’s largest frontcourt battle circled was Armando Bacot. Unfortunately with Bacot banged up (Trayce’s back is banged up too), we didn’t get to see Trayce battle him at 100%. What Hoosier fans did get to see was a utter decimation of a blue blood in the interior, led by none other than Trayce Jackson-Davis. Trayce embarrassed Armando, if UNC didn’t want to face the comparisons of All-Americans, Hubert should have sat Bacot. While fans should feel okay having asked for a reliable option in Trayce Jackson-Davis prior to this season, I don’t know how many could have anticipated the seismic shift in attitude that has TJD playing the best ball of his life. On the season Trayce is averaging 19.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists. With that FG% being one of the best in the nation, Trayce has displayed an ability to deliver now-consistent game winning performance. While setting the scoreboard ablaze, his attitude on the defensive end has reverberated throughout the rotation and has the Hoosier defense looking like world beaters.
Trayce’s game has remained consistent throughout his time on campus. He did everything right. His superior athleticism mad for plenty of memorable performances. But, Trayce is done with just memorable performances. He’s on a mission to bring that hardware home. He wants to take memorable career at Indiana and make it immortal. Thing about that is, the Hoosier greats of the past have made for quite the barrier of entry. Banners fly forever, Trayce is playing like he fully intends to deliver one to Bloomington this year. He has found another gear to his game, a gear with a little more piss and vinegar than Trayce had ever displayed. He’s brought an edge to his climactic season and has that edge bleeding through the rest of the team on the back of major momentum shifting plays. Trayce is going to get his, not a team in the country is going to stop him.
Trayce has only exemplified the aura of a captain since the moment he got on campus. His game arrived already smooth as could be. That being a large reason he was able to so consistently contribute his Freshman, Sophomore, and Junior seasons. Trayce in his 4th season though, he’s a different monster entirely. He has taken his total interior game of the prior seasons and injected into an animalistic nature that has translated into him being able to dictate the terms of any game this season. The hits will come, as they always do with Big Ten play. But nonetheless, I am confident the Hoosiers have got the single best choice of leader in the nation. Trayce isn’t playing like an All-American, he is playing like THE ALL-AMERICAN. He’s displaying the beginnings of a NPOY season if Indiana can put together something special on the year.
Thank you for taking the time to read these short musings of an Hoosier fanboy. It’s never been more fun writing about the team I love and we are just getting into Big Ten ball. Great season to be a Hoosier fan! Have a great day Hoosier Faithful!
LUX ET VERITAS!!!