Trayce Jackson-Davis Demands Your Attention

Purdue v Indiana
Purdue v Indiana / Andy Lyons/GettyImages

Trayce Jackson-Davis is everything you could wish a collegiate athlete to be. He has stuck around four years, has gotten better every season, everyone -- including opposing head coaches -- lauds his character and he's breaking longstanding records. Given how he's played over the past five weeks, Trayce Jackson-Davis deserves your attention.

Against Rutgers on Tuesday night, Jackson-Davis was his usual dominant self. The senior forward scored 20 points, grabbed 18 rebounds, dished out six assists and tallied a block in 39 minutes. By his standards it was a quiet night. Over the weekend against No. 1 Purdue he was even better. Jackson-Davis went toe-to-toe with presumed National Player of the Year Zach Edey, posting 25 points, seven rebounds and five blocks in 39 minutes as Indiana upset the Boilermakers 79-74. Those last two games have been part of a remarkable stretch during which the senior has cemented his status as an all-time Hoosier great.

Indiana has played 11 games since the calendar flipped to 2023. In those contests Jackson-Davis is averaging 22.9 points, 14.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 3.4 blocks in 37 minutes per game. During that stretch he has become Indiana's all-time leader in blocks and on Tuesday night he became the only player in Indiana history to accumulate 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in a career. And he's not done yet. By the end of the season, Jackson-Davis will be the Hoosiers' all-time leading rebounder and is likely to move into the top three on the school's all-time scoring list.

He has officially reached legendary status at Indiana.

While the all-time numbers speak for themselves, it shouldn't overshadow what Jackson-Davis is doing this season. He's currently averaging career-highs in points (19.8), rebounds (11.3), assists (3.5), and blocks (3.0) per game, while shooting 57.6 percent from the field. And those numbers come despite battling a back injury for weeks. He's now healthy and dominating. In 21 games this season, Jackson-Davis has 11 double-doubles and one triple-double. In 13 Big Ten games he has reached double digits in points and rebounds 10 times and missed the feat by one rebound in two other games. He has dialed up his play as the games have gotten tougher.

Jackson-Davis has improved tremendously this season. He's quicker, has a wider array of moves at his disposal, has become a more consistent free throw shooter and has upped his effort level on both ends of the floor. While he has always been a shot blocker, Jackson-Davis often struggled with his footwork and instincts on defense. As a senior, he has become a fantastic defender and is leading Indiana's defensive efforts from the back. He has become a joy to watch on a basketball court.

Indiana has won seven of its last eight and vaulted itself into second place in the Big Ten standings. That followed a stretch where the Hoosiers lost six of seven and were floundering. While other players have made contributions to help turn things around -- most notably freshman point guard Jalen Hood-Schifino -- this is Jackson-Davis' team. Indiana goes where he leads, and he has been front and center, especially with senior point guard Xavier Johnson injured. The turnaround has come from the rest of Indiana's roster displaying the toughness the team's leader had always shown.

In any other season, Jackson-Davis would be a lock for Big Ten Player of the Year and the odds-on favorite for National Player of the Year. Unfortunately for him, Zach Edey exists and is also having a remarkable campaign. That should in no way detract from what Jackson-Davis has become and what he's accomplishing.

Big things were expected from Jackson-Davis when he arrived at Indiana as a top recruit out of Indianapolis in 2019. The son of former NBA forward Dale Davis, no one expected him to stick around Bloomington long. He spent two seasons playing for struggling Archie Miller squads, then he decided to return and accept the challenge of playing for a college basketball neophyte in Mike Woodson. Through all the adversity, he has worked his tail off and improved every season. He opted to return for his final year when a professional career was within his grasp. He's now playing his best basketball as we approach the climax of his senior season. And the rest of the Hoosiers have upped their games around him. Indiana has fought it's way from Big Ten afterthought to right back in the thick of things, and people are taking notice nationally. Nearly all of that can be credited to Jackson-Davis' leadership.

Pay attention to what Trayce Jackson-Davis is doing. It will be a long time before we see a player accomplish what he has at Indiana.

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