How does a first team All-Big Ten, third team All-American, and Wooden Award finalist forward improve his already dominant game?
That Trayce Jackson-Davis was able to accomplish those lofty accolades without posing much of a threat to score outside of the paint, and while not really trusting his right hand, speaks volumes to just how powerful his core competencies are.
Last season, Trayce Jackson-Davis averaged 19.1 points and nine rebounds per game, and he did so without attempting a single three-pointer and only a handful of jumpers inside the arc. That is something that he is looking to change this upcoming season.
“I’m in the gym every night working on my jump shot.” Jackson-Davis said. “I’m just going to take what the defense gives me. If I know I can score at will inside then there’s no reason to go away from that but if they’re giving me the jumper I’m gonna let it fly.”
Although the junior has been working on his jump shot, he has yet to showcase it in the early parts of the preseason. During the trip to the Bahamas, Jackson-Davis often chose to post up for buckets instead of trying the new aspect to his game. Since the trip, head coach Mike Woodson has been attempting to force him to shoot the ball more, something he has preached to his prized big man since arriving in Bloomington.
Woodson recalled the time in practice when he forced the ‘big fella’–which is how Woodson refers to Jackson-Davis — to shoot a three during a scrimmage in practice. The moment was inspired when the first-year head coach got on his star forward for not setting screens.
“Hell, I’m going to draw the play up for him to shoot the three,” Woodson recalled of the moment.
The former four-star recruit then set a screen, popped out to the three-point line, and nailed the shot in front of his coach. Impressed, Woodson decided to abruptly end practice.
“I just wanted to see how he would respond. He made the shot,” Woodson said of the play. “So I know he can make 10-, 15-foot jump shots if he just shoots ’em. I’m going to keep putting him in situations and forcing his hands to take the shot if he has it.”
Another factor of his game that the big man has been working on is free throws. In his career at IU, the Greenwood, Ind. native has shot 67 percent from the charity stripe. However, according to his coach, “He’s been making his free throws” in practice– which could be a sign of better shooting mechanics.
Jackson-Davis’ jump shot is said to be much improved. However, no one will know for sure until he launches his first few shots of the season. Although he hasn’t been around for long, one of his teammates is convinced IU fans will like what they see when the shots fly.
“He’s honestly one of the best shooters on the team,” freshman Tamar Bates said of Jackson-Davis.
“Just over time his jump shot has gotten a lot better and he’s gotten a lot more comfortable shooting it. So, you should expect to see him getting a lot of jumpers up this year.”
Through two seasons Jackson-Davis has never attempted a 3-pointer during his time at IU. Something else he doesn’t do nearly as often as he would like is finish around the basket with his right hand. He talked about his process for developing more confidence with that off-hand.
“Just repetition,” Jackson-Davis said. “When I’m in the gym working on my jump shot I’m also working on right hand moves, working on hooks, counters from my left hand and basic stuff like that.”
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