You might have more in common with IU basketball commit Trayce Jackson-Davis than you think. Enjoy Marvel movies? So does he. Can’t get enough Fortnite? Hit him up on Xbox. Think Spider-Man will be alright in the end? Join the club.
When I sat down with Jackson-Davis this week, it was nice to have a few pop culture topics sprinkled into our conversation. In a life so dominated by recruiting and basketball, it has to be relaxing to kick back and talk about almost anything else.
Now, with his decision out of the way, Jackson-Davis rehashed the moment he knew he could play at the next level. “Definitely after my freshman year [at Center Grove], going into my sophomore year of AAU, that’s when I received my first offer from IUPUI,” said Jackson-Davis. “It was kind of early in the process, so talking to my coaches and my dad and my high school coach, they were like ‘you definitely have what it takes to play so now you just have to keep working hard.’”
For Trayce, the hard work paid off. “I just kept working and working and then I got my first Big Ten offer from Purdue later that year.”
The process also taught Jackson-Davis what to look for in coaches and recruiters, eventually leading to his commitment to IU over UCLA and Michigan State. “The biggest thing that I looked for would probably be the time and effort they put into recruiting. With Indiana, I chose them because they were first to everything, they called me the most, they took the most time with me,” said Jackson-Davis. “On visits, I’d say [I looked for] the comfortability with it and how well I meshed with the players. You’re going to be with some of those guys for three to four years.”
While the recruiting process may have been stressful on Jackson-Davis, it wasn’t without some cool aspects. “I think just knowing that people want you, like on Twitter you’d see all these people that want you. I thought that was really cool,” Jackson-Davis said. “It made me feel needed, but it also put a lot of pressure on you. Just talking to some of these legendary coaches, like Steve Alford and Coach Izzo and Coach Miller, that was awesome.”
The stress hit a high point when Jackson-Davis had to call Michigan State’s Izzo and UCLA’s Alford to give them the bad news. “The most stressful thing was trying to tell two other good coaches that I wasn’t going to attend their program. Those phone calls were extremely difficult, really hard to make but you’ve got to do what’s best for your future.”
When I asked how he brings himself to make that call, Jackson-Davis kept it simple. “Just man up and do it. I called and we talked for a little bit,” Trayce said. “I was like, ‘I’m sorry coach, but I just think this is the right place for me,’ and all the coaches I talked to were really good coaches, really cool about it. They said they respected my decision.”
As you can imagine, the recruiting process might not be as glamorous as it’s made out to be. “Most annoying thing would probably be the fans. Some of them think they know a little too much, so that gets on my nerves a little bit, but nothing too bad,” said Trayce. “College coaches, when they call, sometimes you just don’t want to talk. That can be annoying as well.”
Through it all, Jackson-Davis had people in his life who helped make the process easier. “I think that my AAU coaches, Coach Hahn [from Center Grove] have helped. My family, Ray, Dale [Davis], and my mom have all been big influences in my life,” said Jackson-Davis. “Those have been the main people that have helped me so far.”
Even though basketball takes up most of his time, Jackson-Davis wanted people to know something about him that might be surprising. “Something that would surprise about me would be my sense of humor. People see me on the court, I don’t show emotion that much, so they probably don’t know much about me off the court. I’m pretty funny, pretty cool guy.”
Off the court, Jackson-Davis is just like any other high school student. He even enjoys hopping on his Xbox from time to time. “My biggest thing is probably Fortnite. I like to play with some of the guys down there, like Romeo Langford and Rob [Phinisee], played with them before. Fortnite and Black Ops 4, definitely my two go-to games right now.” Jackson-Davis also made his Marvel fandom known, while also shouting out the late Stan Lee. “Big Stan Lee fan, big Marvel fan. Rest in peace to the great one. Looking forward to those movies coming out, Avengers 4. It’s going to be insane.”
Avengers 4 might be a high priority for Jackson-Davis, but he knows what his ultimate goal is. “The end game is trying to make it to the NBA. I don’t care how long it takes–it could be one year, it could be four years. As long as I get there, that’s my ultimate goal right now.”