By Angela Norris
You may have heard the name Trayce Jackson-Davis around town, and there’s a really good reason for that.
Jackson-Davis, who just graduated from Center Grove High School, has made his way to Indiana University to play basketball for the Hoosiers with determination and lots of hard work.
He is a power forward/center, standing at 6 feet 9 inches, and 231 pounds his senior year. As a junior in 2017-18, he averaged 21.9 points per game, 9.4 rebounds, 4.1 blocks and 2.6 assists while shooting 67 percent from the field. He helped his team to a 20 win season, county and sectional titles and the 4A regional final. During his senior season, Jackson-Davis led the Trojans to a 21-8 record and a place in the Class 4A state tournament semifinals. He averaged 21.6 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.9 blocks, 1.7 assists and 1 steal through 29 games.
An honor: athletically, academically and for exemplary character
He entered the state semifinals with 1,768 career points. On March 15, Jackson-Davis was honored as the Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year. He received the award not only for his athletic abilities, but also for his academic excellence in maintaining a B average, as well as his exemplary character in which he volunteered locally as a youth basketball coach and at the Wheeler Mission Center in Indianapolis, serving the homeless and those in need. In AAU basketball, while on the Spiece Indy Heat, he averaged 19.1 points per game, 7.1 rebounds per game and 1.8 assists per game while shooting 59.1 percent from the field.
Jackson-Davis was the 2019 winner of the prestigious honor signifying the best high school player in the state of Indiana, Indiana’s Mr. Basketball. He was voted as the winner on 179 of 311 ballots and the second consecutive winner to head to IU-Bloomington.
“It is honestly just a blessing and an honor just knowing the guys who have been through this and won,” Jackson-Davis said. “You get names like Greg Oden, Kyle Guy, Romeo Langford, Steve Alford, Damon Bailey, just huge names in the state and just being considered on the same list as those guys is such an honor that I am astounded by it.”
Jackson-Davis gave credit with his success as a player and how he is shaped as a person to his family, teachers, classmates, teammates and mentors, including CGHS Boys Varsity Basketball Head Coach Zach Haun.
“I’m just honestly blessed just to have them around,” he said. “I’m also surrounded by great people all year; my teammates, our senior class, they will be my brothers for life. What we did this year is just a blessing and an honor. My school has been there for me since day one when I came in as a freshman. That’s when they brought in Coach Haun, so he kind of took me under his wing and the rest is history I would say. We have great teachers here; it’s a great community and a great place to live.”
Jackson-Davis was also inspired as a freshman by advice he’ll never forget from former NBA/professional basketball player and current motivational speaker Chris Herron.
“He talked to us about his life and his story about drug and alcohol use and I just took a lot away from that and how he got himself back on track and I thought that was really cool and I try to be a person like that because he really inspired me to be a better person,” Jackson-Davis said.
As well, “my family inspires me the most. Off the court they try to make me be the best basketball player and person I can possibly be. And on the court I think that LeBron James would be my male role model just how he presents himself on and off the court. He’s a really good dude off the court and he gives back to the community so I try to inspire to be someone like that,” he said.
Jackson-Davis is the biological son of Karla Jackson and Dale Davis (former Indiana Pacers power forward/center). He was raised by his mother and step-father, Raymond Jackson, and decided to hyphenate his name his freshman year to honor his stepfather.
“As a parent, you always try to put your children in a position to be successful,” Raymond said. “You give them tools and then see what they choose to do with them. Although Trayce didn’t start to blossom into the excellent athlete he is today until around eighth grade, he always had ambition. Trayce was such a laid-back kid growing up, nothing really ruffled his feathers. “He was a late bloomer and didn’t really take things serious until the end of eighth grade. Trayce asked me if he had what it takes to be the best and that he wanted to start taking basketball more seriously. I told him no matter what you choose to do in life, do it to your best ability and be the best.
“I’ve always been his biggest fan and worst critic. He is where he is today because of the hard work he put in and the support system he has at home with our family. I am proud of the man he has become over the years. He has had the weight of the world on his shoulders at times. Trayce is respectful, humble and truly cares about this community. Basketball will end someday, but those qualities will continue to define him and keep him successful no matter what he chooses to do in life. That’s all you can ask for.”
What are Jackson-Davis’ plans while attending IU and after receiving his degree?
“Wherever the Lord takes me is where I’ll go, but I just plan on playing basketball down there and if the NBA is on the table then that’s probably what I’ll do next,” he said.