Trayce Jackson-Davis Becomes First-Ever Center Grove Player to Earn Indiana’s Top Honor
Photography Provided by JWCreative.Indy & Center Grove High School
Center Grove High School’s Trayce Jackson-Davis made history on May 5 when he was named the 2019 Mr. Basketball, the first from Center Grove High School (CGHS) and just the third recipient from Johnson County. The Mr. Basketball award has been presented annually to the top high school boys basketball player in Indiana since 1939. It’s the oldest such award in the nation.
“It really means the world to me,” Jackson-Davis says. “It solidifies yourself into Indiana basketball history which is something that can never be taken away from you. I think it is a blessing. Being the first one in the (Center Grove) community is very special.”
Jackson-Davis helped lead the Trojans this past season to their first appearance in the State Tournament Final Four, after winning the Sectional for a school-record third year in a row, and a second Regional title, the first since 1972. The 6’10” senior elevated his play in the state tournament, which helped him secure the Mr. Basketball award.
“I was just lifting up the team,” Jackson-Davis says. “I started stepping up in a big way and stepped up the rest of the tournament. All my teammates were there for me and gave me a lot of confidence. The coaches also gave me a lot of confidence to compete on that level. I really wanted to try to get to state for the school and the community. We, however, came up one game short, losing to a very good Ben Davis team.”
CGHS head basketball coach Zach Hahn says Jackson-Davis played his best basketball in the state tournament this past season.
“One of the best and worst qualities Trayce has is his ability to be passive and unselfish,” Hahn says. “We have to remember how far he had come on the court. He had a mentality of “refuse to lose” during his senior year tournament run. If we needed a bucket, he got it. If we needed a block, he got it. If we needed a rebound, he got it. He had a four-game stretch where he averaged 30.4 points, 12.2 rebounds and 4.5 blocked shots. Watching him against Franklin (Sectional championship game) and Bloomington South (Regional championship game) were two of the best performances I’ve seen live from any basketball player at any level.”
CGHS senior guard Spencer Piercefield played three varsity seasons with Jackson-Davis. Piercefield says he was a great and supportive teammate.
“It was our sophomore year and we were playing Ben Davis,” Piercefield recalls. “We were having a good season but had still not gotten over the hump of winning a MIC game. The first half was rough for the team and me personally. I was roughly one for six or so from three. Could not buy a bucket and the team was down by around 15 points. After halftime, we come out and I’m a little deflated because of the first half I had. Trayce runs out first, grabs a ball and passes it to me. He would go on to rebound for me the remainder of halftime. Before we went on the court for the second half, he told me that the team needed me and I needed to stay aggressive. This really spoke to the kind of person that Trayce is. Trayce and I both had really good second halves and we went on to win our first ever MIC game.”
“What separates Trayce from most basketball players at his level is his quiet, reserved demeanor,” Hahn adds. “He is somewhat of a humble giant. He is the first to say hi to someone in the hallway or stay after a game to sign autographs. He has had to put in long hours both on the court and in the classroom. Things come easy to him now, but that hasn’t always been the case. He has represented Center Grove in the highest regard possible. It has been an honor and privilege to coach Trayce. I am beyond proud of the player and person he has become in our program and I can’t wait to see what he will accomplish in the future. The sky is the limit.”
The next step in Jackson-Davis’ journey after graduating from CGHS is playing for Indiana University.
“My number one goal at IU is to get back to the (NCAA) tournament,” Jackson-Davis says. “I know it’s been a few years since they have been there, but I think it could be huge if we could go to the tournament during my freshman year. I know a lot of people are doubting us right now. I know one thing. I am going to put in a lot of hard work when I get down there. I’m going to try my hardest and give it my all every night on the court.”
Jackson-Davis’ stepfather, Ray Jackson, is proud of the hard work Trayce has put in to achieve Indiana high school basketball’s most prestigious award.
“When Trayce was in the 7th and 8th grade, he said to me, ’Dad, I want to try for this,’” Jackson recalls. “So, we wrote down our goals and every year he would obtain them. He has worked so hard to be where he is right now. It is all on him. We can just sit back and support him, but it was many hours in the gym, driving him here and there and just to continue to see him get better every year. It was a great group of guys he competed with. A couple of years from now, when you look back, you realize this is a big deal. We (CGHS) might never get another person like this. It is something big for the community. I am super competitive, so when he told me his goals, I said, let’s walk out of here as a senior and be the best this place has ever seen.”