With just over four minutes left to play in Thursday night’s game between the Golden State Warriors and Indiana Pacers, fans inside Gainbridge Fieldhouse began to roar.
Chants of ‘TJD’ reigned down — the crowd pleading with Warriors head coach Steve Kerr to play rookie forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, a native of Greenwood, Indiana, and former Indiana men’s basketball standout.
Less than a minute later, the fans were granted their wish — and Jackson-Davis immediately validated their support, finishing an alley-oop dunk eight seconds after entering the contest. Kerr said it was his favorite play in the Warriors’ 131-109 victory.
“It was great to see,” Kerr said postgame. “It’s fun to see young guys’ coming of age.”
Jackson-Davis capped his illustrious career with the Hoosiers last March, departing as the program’s all-time leader in rebounds (1,143) and blocks (270).
He ranks No. 3 on Indiana’s all-time scoring list with 2,258 points and is one of only five players in Big Ten history to eclipse both 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.
The 6-foot-9, 245-pound Jackson-Davis was a consensus All-American last season, averaging 20.9 points, 10.8 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game.
Jackson-Davis is one of the most statistically accomplished players in program history — and he was greeted with a response fit for his stature in his homecoming.
“It felt good, just being able to come home,” Jackson-Davis said postgame. “Getting the ovation that I got, all the hard work I put into the university — it felt good.”
Drafted No. 57 overall by the Warriors last summer, Jackson-Davis has worked his way into Golden State’s rotation, averaging 6.5 points and 4.1 rebounds in 13.3 minutes per game. He’s played in 37 of 49 possible contests.
In his return home, Jackson-Davis logged 6 points and two rebounds on 2-of-3 shooting with a pair of made free throws. He also had one block, one turnover and two fouls.
After the game, Jackson-Davis was met by a group of familiar faces — Indiana senior guards Trey Galloway, Anthony Leal, Xavier Johnson and director of athletic performance Clif Marshall.
Galloway and Leal spent the previous three years with Jackson-Davis; Johnson was there for two.
Thursday was Jackson-Davis's first time back home in eight months — but he still keeps in touch with his former teammates. Galloway said the two talk every day, texting back and forth with an occasional phone call.
Jackson-Davis brings a wealth of knowledge, and in a challenging 14-9 season for the Hoosiers, Galloway’s tried to soak in as much wisdom as possible.
“It’s good to just hear from him because he’s been through it all,” Galloway said. “There’s been times we’ve been down, and he texts me, just picking me up. It’s a great relationship that me and him have.”
Jackson-Davis saw his family after the game and will see them again during the NBA’s All-Star break, which takes place Feb. 16-21.
Indiana hosts Northwestern on Feb. 18 at Assembly Hall on Feb. 18, presenting an opportunity for Jackson-Davis to return to the place he electrified so many times.
For now, that’s just an idea — but at least Thursday night, Jackson-Davis was back in Indiana, and his warm welcome illustrates the legacy he left behind in the state.
“It was great,” Galloway said. “I wish he got more minutes, but it was really cool to go down there and support him, because I know he’d do the same for me. And he’s going to — he’ll be back here soon, hopefully.”