The wooden bleacher seats of the upper bowl at Bloomington High School North were filled with cream-and-crimson-clad fans. They gave a standing ovation as the newest IU signee took the floor with his Center Grove High School basketball team. Postgame, they went down onto the court to take a picture with the future Hoosier big man.
IU fans had come out to see five-star center Trayce Jackson-Davis just more than 24 hours after he officially signed with the Hoosiers.
He didn’t disappoint.
In his first game in Bloomington since committing to IU, Jackson-Davis dominated the Bloomington North Cougars. He stuffed the stat sheet with 33 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, three blocks and three steals.
“It was a great feeling,” Jackson-Davis said. “I saw a lot of IU fans here, so that was cool.”
While the Hoosier fans lined the upper bowl, the lower bowl, packed with Bloomington North students and fans, didn’t give Jackson-Davis a warm welcome.
Early in the second half, the Bloomington North student section chanted “overrated” at Jackson-Davis. He heard these jeers, and he elevated his play, highlighted with two dunks.
“That happens a lot,” Jackson-Davis said. “I try to tune it out, but I try to give a little bit more, get the motor going even more. I’m just trying to prove them wrong. They think that they’re doing something, but they’re actually just going to make me try harder.”
Jackson-Davis scored 23 points in the second half while dominating in the paint. Bloomington North tried to double-team him, but it didn’t matter.
Jackson-Davis seemingly scored at will. He was able to draw contact inside and get to the free throw line, shooting 15 free throws and making nine of them.
That included multiple and-one opportunities, one of which coming on an emphatic poster dunk. When Jackson-Davis got hot, there was no stopping him.
The talented center said that he ultimately made his decision to come to IU after talking to his family earlier in the week.
“Coach Miller and Coach Ostrom did a great job recruiting me," Jackson-Davis said. "They were first to everything. Just having my parents and family watch me, and only being 45 minutes away.”
With Juwan Morgan graduating after the 2018-19 season, Jackson-Davis will quickly slot into the IU lineup, replacing the Hoosiers’ senior big man. Like Morgan, Jackson-Davis brings a physical presence inside.
While it will be hard to replace how important Morgan is to the IU team, Jackson-Davis has consistently shown why he is ranked as the 16th overall player in the country and will bring his talent to Bloomington in the fall.