Photo by Mike Schumann / The Daily Hoosier

IU Basketball Annual Review Series: Three Things for Trayce Jackson-Davis’ 2020-21 Season

Nine Indiana basketball players that saw the floor during the season will be back for the 2020-21 campaign as of this writing. 

While formal practices have concluded, the work never stops for high major college basketball players.  Growth and development happens in the offseason, in individual workouts and permitted organized team activities.

At the end of each season the coaches sit down and have one-on-one meetings with the players.  If you could talk to each of the nine returning players about their 2019-20 season and what they need to improve going forward, what would you say? 

We play Archie Miller for a day and give it a shot with the “Annual Review” series.


Trayce Jackson-Davis
Credit – IU Athletics

Quick 2019-20 Recap:

Arriving at IU as the top rated incoming freshman in the Big Ten, Trayce Jackson-Davis lived up to the hype in year one.  Many would say that he vastly exceeded what was expected.

The third team All-Big Ten performer played in all 32 games and averaged 29.4 minutes per contest.  Jackson-Davis contributed 13.5 points while shooting 56.6 percent from the field and added 8.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocks.  He led the team in all four of those categories.  Jackson-Davis shot 68.5 percent from the foul line with a team leading 168 attempts from the charity stripe.

On a per possession basis Jackson-Davis was equally dominant, leading the Hoosiers in offensive rebounding percentage and block rate.  He had the second best defensive rebounding rate and second lowest turnover rate on the team.  Jackson-Davis was No. 57 nationally in free throw rate (FTA/FGA), No. 66 in block percentage, and No. 89 in overall offensive efficiency.

The Daily Hoosier Report Card

Trayce Jackson-Davis (A-) Scoring, rebounding, blocks, field goal percentage — Jackson-Davis led IU in several meaningful categories as he collected 12 double-doubles. The true freshman earned third team All-Big Ten while finishing second in the league in field goal percentage and seventh in rebounds and blocks.  Next up for Jackson-Davis is to develop his right hand and become a perimeter threat.  If he does those two things, he will be unstoppable.


“27 and 16, those are serious numbers. He doesn’t get enough credit nationally, and that’s usually typical when we are losing some games, but he’s been a bright spot for us all season, and I think he’s freshman of the Year in the league.  He’s my guy, and tonight he delivered.”

— Archie Miller after a road win at Minnesota on Feb. 19

Primary Developmental Needs:

1. Scoring beyond the paint

At 6-foot-9 with a quick burst and elite bounce, Jackson-Davis can get past and score over most college basketball players.  His offensive efficiency in traffic was about as good as could be expected playing on a team that didn’t shoot the ball well and allowed opposing defenses to collapse.

But there is another level to Jackson-Davis’ potential, and that entails becoming a threat to score from beyond the paint.  If he can do that, he will space the floor better both for himself and his teammates while mitigating the effectiveness of opposing double-teams.

As a freshman, Jackson-Davis didn’t attempt a three-point shot, and his range really doesn’t need to go out that far.  But a 15 to 20 foot shot that can be made consistently would completely change how teams are able to defend both him and Indiana as a whole.

2. Develop the off hand

The other aspect of Jackson-Davis’ offensive game that is limited is his ability to go right and score with the right hand.  Again, it wasn’t a terribly limiting factor against most opponents, but Jackson-Davis can make himself a near impossible cover in college by posing a threat to go either direction and score with either hand.

While the pandemic situation isn’t ideal for anyone’s development, developing a high degree of comfort with the off hand is something that can be done in the driveway for a post player, especially if one were fortunate enough like Jackson-Davis to have a few athletic family members to work with.

3. Execute on defense

Jackson-Davis knew that he would be asked to guard more on the perimeter at Indiana.  As a player with legitimate NBA aspirations, he welcomed that challenge.

Whether tasked with covering modern power forwards with perimeter skills, to hedging and at times switching on high ball screens, Jackson-Davis was asked to do a lot outside of the paint on defense.

Jackson-Davis has the physical tools to execute on defense away from the rim.  We saw that when he switched to Michigan State’s Cassius Winston and blocked a last second attempt.  But there were also times when the young big man didn’t make the right read or was too passive and didn’t impose his will.

With his athleticism and length, Jackson-Davis can be an elite defender inside and out, but he has to be able to execute the ball screen coverages based on the personnel more consistently, and he has to play with a more aggressive motor at all times.

What Success Looks Like in 2020-21

As of this writing it is not certain that Jackson-Davis will return to IU for his sophomore season, but all signs point to him putting his professional plans on hold for another year.

Jackson-Davis could clearly become a first team All-Big Ten player in 2020-21, and he could average a double-double along the way.  A 16 point, 10 rebound per game season is not out of the question for the Greenwood, Ind. product, and he could also push closer to 60 percent from the field and 2 blocks per game.

Those are all very high standards, but Jackson-Davis set the bar high with an impressive first season.  And with several Big Ten big men moving on, the opportunity will be there for him to put IU on his back and become one of the top five players in the league.


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