LOUISVILLE, Ky – Armaan Franklin waited in the left corner as Trayce Jackson-Davis came around to set a pick on the defender. As Franklin dribbled around the play, it gave Jackson-Davis the open opportunity as he rolled to the basket and pointed his right index finger to the sky.
Franklin immediately passed Jackson-Davis the ball in between the two defenders. As he caught the ball in the middle of the paint, Jackson-Davis didn’t take a single dribble and laid the ball in on the left side after Kentucky failed to strip him.
It was only the second basket of the game for the Indiana All-Stars Friday night at Bellarmine University as the team took a two-point lead over the Kentucky All-Stars in an eventual 33-point victory. But it was a play that IU fans could become used to seeing this upcoming season.
“Our coaches talked about how we don’t lose to Kentucky and so many of the Indiana teams didn’t lose to Kentucky,” Jackson-Davis said. “So, we made this week strictly business. We know coming down here on their home turf we’d have to punch them in the mouth and that’s what we did.”
After incoming Louisville 4-star guard David Johnson scored the opening basket of the game on a shot he forced up in the paint, Kentucky missed 13 straight shots as Indiana never looked back once it took the lead.
Franklin only scored six points but was a major factor for the Indiana defense. He was matched up against Johnson for a majority of the night and held him to only two points in the first half and seven points in the game.
After the game, Jackson-Davis called out Franklin for his defensive performance since he thought that Johnson scored 30 points on Franklin in the Junior All-Star game last year. Franklin was quick to mention how it was only 25 points, but he wanted to make sure Johnson wouldn’t have a similar performance this time around.
“I think I ramped up my intensity a little bit more and didn’t let him get any easy shots,” Franklin said. “I wanted to contest every shot, so I think that was the big difference for me.”
With Franklin playing the type of defense that IU coach Archie Miller has been implementing into his system, Jackson-Davis showed off his offensive versatility on the other end.
Despite being a 6-foot-9-inch center/forward, Jackson-Davis can get down the court quicker than most guards and is constantly looking for the transition bucket before the defense gets set. He has also shown at times how he can be a point forward and bring up the ball if needed.
In the first half, Kentucky’s Reid Jolly tried to meet Jackson-Davis at the rim as he ran toward the basket in transition.
Jackson-Davis brought his left arm back and slammed it through the net, capping off the poster dunk with a staredown while flexing his arms and yelling at Jolly. It was a dunk that gave Indiana its first double-digit lead of the game as well.
“That was a big tone-setter,” Franklin said. “Trayce dunked on him, got up in his face, the whole crowd got hyped. We just fed off his energy after that.”
Jackson-Davis and Franklin are the only two incoming freshman recruits for the program in the 2019 recruiting class, but have an opportunity to get instant playing time for the Hoosiers.
With former Hoosier Juwan Morgan out of the picture for IU next season, Jackson-Davis will have an opportunity for touches in the paint and the chance to bring a scoring punch, whether it’s off the bench or in the starting lineup.
With senior Devonte Green, junior Al Durham and sophomore Rob Phinisee all returning for IU, Franklin has a chance to likely come off the bench in spurts as a 3-and-D type player. Franklin is a bigger guard at 6-foot-4, so he could play the three position in a three-guard lineup as well.
There’s still uncertainty of what IU's rotation will look like this upcoming season, but Jackson-Davis and Franklin could both provide depth that wasn’t there at times due to injuries last year.
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