Michigan State’s Travis Trice is a rare breed on the college hardwood. In fact, he has done something most college hoops players don’t do anymore. Trice is unique in the fact that he’s in his fourth year at MSU. That’s right, he’s a senior – something that goes beyond the one-and-done players that are becoming increasingly prevalent each year.
Not only has he continued through to his senior year, but he has also endured some tough obstacles to make it back on the court year after year.
Here’s what you need to know about Travis Trice:
1. He Is One of Two Seniors on the Team
As mentioned, Trice is a unique player in the college basketball world because he surpassed the one-and-done philosophy to continue his Spartans career under the direction of Tom Izzo.
Since joining the Michigan State program in the 2011-12 season, Trice has played a consistent role on the team. He’s helped the Spartans to four Sweet 16 appearances, back-to-back Elite Eight berths and the first Final Four appearance since 2010.
This season the Huber Heights, Ohio (near Dayton) native leads the team in points, 15.3, and assists, 5.1, while also averaging 3.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game. Trice also shoots just under 40 percent from the floor and 37.1 from 3-point range and is ranked in the Big Ten for scoring (10th), assists (2nd) and 3-pointers made (7th). He was also a third-team All-Big Ten selection.
Although there haven’t been serious NBA talks about Trice, there’s still plenty of tournament action to turn that around.
2. Coach K Called Him the Best Player in the Tournament
Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, who is the NCAA’s winningest coach in history, said in a Final Four press conference on Thursday, April 2, that the 6-foot guard has outplayed everyone in this year’s tournament.
According to mlive.com, Coach K said:
I think he’s been the best player in the tournament, of any team. I don’t think there’s a kid playing any better than that kid.
In his four tournament games alone, Trice has averaged 19.8 points per game including 24 against Oklahoma and 23 against Virginia. He’s played all but 11 of Michigan State’s 165 minutes in the tournament, and was named Most Outstanding Player of the East region bracket on Sunday.
When asked about his feelings on Coach K’s comment, Trice said:
I’m just thankful. That’s the ultimate compliment, especially from a coach like Coach K, one of the greatest coaches to ever coach the game. But I just try and focus and do what my teammates need, what our team needs to win.
3. He Overcame Illness and Injury to Keep Playing
While Trice has worked to be a consistent contributor for his team, there was a period of time where that was tested. It was the summer of 2012, between his freshman and sophomore year, that an unexplained illness came upon him that left doctors at a loss for a defined answer.
Trice was sleeping more than 15 hours per day, waking up only to use the restroom and eat a light meal, whatever he could manage. His mother, Julie, recalled seeing heavy bags under his eyes and significant weight loss – signs that caused her and the rest of the family to worry, and something doctors struggled to find a proper diagnosis.
After going through numerous blood tests, MRI’s and medications that didn’t seem to provide an answer, the doctors settled on a brain infection – one that was life-threatening for the young guard.
After recovering from the brain scare, and putting on 30 pounds, Trice then suffered two concussions. Then in his junior season, he grew painful blisters on his feet, which effected his playing ability and caused him to miss games, practices and off-season conditioning.
Coach Izzo told the Big Ten Network:
It was unexplainable, and they weren’t even really basketball-related injuries. As they say, ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,’ and he’s a walking example of that.
And Trice’s mom said:
When you are as sick as he was, and you’ve had all the injures he’s had, you just have to look back and be thankful for how far he’s come and where he is today. It sounds crazy, but if you ask him if he’d go through all of this again to get where he is today, my guess is that his answer would be yes. Without a doubt.
And with not only reaching the Final Four for the first time in his career, but also the program’s first since 2010, Trice said he’s making sure to take it all in – especially the compliment from basketball great and MSU alum Magic Johnson. Trice said:
I know when to kind of relax, and I know when to get serious. I’m trying to hold onto every memory I make here because this is something I will remember for the rest of my life.
[Magic Johnson] told me he was proud of me and that he felt it was my leadership that helped get us to this point. When you hear something like that from a guy who most people consider to be one of the greatest players ever to play the game, that means a lot.
4. 2011 Gatorade Ohio Boys Basketball Player of the Year
Trice played for his dad at Huber Heights Wayne High School. As a senior he averaged 23.5 points, 6.5 assists, 4.3 steals and 3.3 rebounds per game. He also shot 48.1 percent from the field, 42.5 percent from 3-point range and 83.0 percent from the charity stripe, and is the high school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,555 points.
In 2011, Trice was a First-team All-State honoree and Southwest District Player of the Year, who helped lead the Warriors to a 22-2 mark and a spot in the district finals. He also scored a season-high 44 points in the Warriors’ game against Toledo Rogers.
As a junior in 2010, Trice shot 43.0 percent from behind the arc and averaged 22.1 points, 4.9 assists and 4.2 steals. He was also named Third-team All-State honoree, First-team all-conference, all-district selection, conference player of the year and two-time district underclassman of the year.
In his sophomore season, he averaged 16.5 points as a sophomore and was named Third-team all-district and First-team all-conference. Trice was also an AAU teammate of Branden Dawson – both enrolled to play at MSU in 2011-12.
5. His Brother and Dad Won the Ohio High School Division I State Championship
Basketball is a family affair for the Trice family. His grandfather, Bob Pritchett, played at Vincennes University and Old Dominion and is in the Old Dominion Hall of Fame. His father, Travis Trice Sr., played two years each at Purdue and Butler.
The Michigan State guard is the oldest of five – all of whom play basketball, or will. (the youngest, Ace, has yet to hit the court)
But basketball is definitely a family affair in the Trice household and apparently so is winning tournament games as Trice’s dad and brother just won the Ohio High School Division I State Basketball Championship on March 28.
Prior to the state finals, Trice Sr. was posed with the question of what he would do if his high school basketball team’s plans of a deep run in the Ohio state tournament would prevent him from watching his oldest son’s final NCAA tournament at Michigan State. His response:
There’s always the Final Four.
Looks like mother’s aren’t the only ones who know best.