Three seasons at Indiana, three decisions.
According to IU star forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, his most recent stay-or-go decision is still up in the air.
After putting the Hoosiers on his back and carrying them to the NCAA Tournament, Jackson-Davis once again enters the offseason with a future to contemplate.
After his 2019-20 freshman campaign, the decision seemed fairly straightforward. Following his sophomore season Jackson-Davis surprised many with his decision to return and play for new head coach Mike Woodson. In the immediate aftermath of a humbling 82-53 loss to St. Mary’s that ended his junior year, Jackson-Davis wasn’t ready to discuss his next step.
“I’m not really worried about that right now,” he said in Portland on Thursday evening. “Right now I’m just kind of worried about just being with my teammates, just being in the moment.”
It only took one short meeting with Woodson last April for Jackson-Davis to decide to stay the course at Indiana. Another one-on-one by the pair will commence the process this time around.
“I’ll talk to Coach Woodson, like I did last off-season, and we’ll go from there,” Jackson-Davis continued. “So preparation in everything I do. I’ll have a plan in sight, but there’s no timetable right now.”
Jackson-Davis doesn’t have a clear path to an NBA roster. He is a second-rounder at best in most NBA projections. But it only takes one team to see him as a good fit, and he appears to have boosted his draft stock in the last few weeks.
ESPN NBA Draft analyst Mike Schmitz felt Jackson-Davis’ performance in the Big Ten tournament would help him garner a close look form league executives.
“One of the biggest winners of the Big Ten Tourney in terms of draft stock: Trayce Jackson-Davis,” Schmitz wrote on his Twitter page last week. “Known commodity but to lead Indiana deep carries weight with NBA teams. Showed he’s a vertical threat who can beat a switch in the post, pass, and protect the rim some.”
In the four game span that led IU to Portland and the round of 64, Jackson-Davis scored 105 points while shooting 65.7 percent from the field.
Coming into his junior season, much of the talk surrounding Jackson-Davis centered on whether he could develop his off hand and a perimeter shot. While his left hand was still dominant, he did show improvement with the right. But Jackson-Davis still has not shown he can be a reliable outside shooter, something that is critically important for the NBA, especially for someone who is 6-foot-9.
Jackson-Davis returned to IU to play for Woodson with the belief the long-time NBA coach would help develop him for the next level.
The results were mixed. While his scoring average dropped from 19.1 points per game to 18.3, and his rebounds went from 9.0 to 8.1, in less minutes per game, Jackson-Davis was much more efficient, making 58.9 percent of his shots vs. 51.7, and he became a major weapon on the defensive end with 2.3 blocks per game as compared to 1.4 last season.
It was a heart-to-heart at halftime of the Big Ten Tournament game against Michigan between Woodson and Jackson-Davis that seemed to catapult the IU big man to new heights. So Woodson still knows how to connect with his star player.
The 22-year-old Jackson-Davis has plenty of time to determine his next step.
The NBA unveiled on Tuesday the dates and locations for key 2022 NBA Draft events.
The NBA Draft Combine (May 16-22) will be held in Chicago. Jackson-Davis will no doubt enter his name in the Draft with the option to receive feedback at the Combine and return if he so chooses.
The NBA Draft on June 23 will take place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.