BLOOMINGTON — Indiana All-American forward Trayce Jackson-Davis said shortly after the season ended, he was prepared to enter the NBA draft with an agent.
But Jackson-Davis waited to see who was hired as head coach first to replace Archie Miller and listen to what he had to say.
Jackson-Davis came out of his initial meeting with new IU head coach Mike Woodson impressed but had to sell his parents, who still wanted him to enter the draft, on the decision. So Woodson met with Jackson-Davis’ parents to discuss his plans for the development of the 6-foot-9, 245-pound standout from Greenwood.
“My dad came out of the room, he said, ‘Give us five minutes,’” Jackson-Davis said. “So we left Coach Woodson’s office and we went into a little meeting room, and he said, ‘You’re staying.’ So that’s how that went.
“I hope my other teammates get to meet with him and they decide the same thing because I feel like he knows what he’s talking about, and I know he knows what he’s doing.”
Jackson-Davis has put his trust in Woodson, announcing Friday his decision to return to IU for his junior season.
Jackson-Davis led Indiana in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots for each of the last two seasons, shouldering a heavy load of the team’s production. Last season, Jackson-Davis was named first team All-Big Ten and third-team All-American by the by the National Association of Basketball Coaches after averaging 19.1 points, 9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. He posted 10 double-doubles as a sophomore and has posted 22 double-doubles in his career, with Indiana going 17-5 in those games.
Jackson-Davis was projected as a late first-, early second-round NBA draft pick, but the lefty still has areas he can expand his game, including perimeter shooting and using his right (off) hand. Woodson discussed his plan to help develop Jackson-Davis on his introductory radio show with Don Fischer this week.
“He’s had a tremendous Big Ten career ... he has to be able to use his other hand,” Woodson said. “I’m going to beg for him to stay with me because I think I can help him develop and get to the next level.”
Jackson-Davis said in his meeting with Woodson the coach told him not what he wanted to hear but what he needed to hear.
“He told me what I needed to work on,” Jackson-Davis said. “He showed me clips of me playing. He showed my missed shots, what I should have done in this situation, where I needed to take shots, and that’s all my dad talks about. He talks about the things I need to improve on. He never talks about what I’m good at. That right there was already showing me he wants what is best for me.”
Jackson-Davis said Woodson also plans to make the forward a more confident shooter from the perimeter.
“With my jump shot, I just have to have the confidence to take it,” Jackson-Davis said. “Taking one a game, going 0-for-1, is really hard when you can go 3-for-5. That’s the way I think about it, really.”
Using the right hand, Jackson-Davis said, also will be emphasized.
“Being able to handle the ball and being able to go to my right and using that as second nature to my left hand,” Jackson-Davis said. “So I have this as my left hand, and then my right hand is the other thing I can go to …. I averaged 19 and 9 strictly using my left hand, so being able to open up my game even more, the sky is the limit.”
With Woodson retaining assistant coach Kenya Hunter and grad transfer Parker Stewart taking his name out of the transfer portal, Jackson-Davis said spirits around IU’s basketball facility have picked up. He’s actively working on other players to decide to come back, including guard Armaan Franklin, who is still weighing his options in the transfer portal after a breakout sophomore season.
“The mood here is really, really positive,” Jackson-Davis said. “I feel like there’s a light. I feel like we’ve been in the dark here for a while. There wasn’t any energy. It feels like all the life after the season was sucked out of us. Even when Coach Woodson got hired, I feel like a new positive vibe has come. We’ve been hooping. We’ve been playing some open gyms, us and the guys, really just excited to play basketball again and excited to be out there.”