MADISON — The No. 17 Wisconsin Badgers are off to a 5-2 start this season, and one major key to their success thus far is true freshman D’Mitrik Trice.
Trice, younger brother of former Michigan State guard Travis Trice, is from Huber Heights, Ohio, where he starred in both basketball and football at Wayne High School. After graduating, Trice played the 2015-2016 season at IMG Academy in Florida, along with fellow Badger freshman Aleem Ford.
“One of the biggest things I got from there was I gained a lot of muscle,” Trice said of his time at IMG. “So, I obviously gained weight because of that, and my skills developed really well there too.”
This development of his skills is already showing out on the court, as the true freshman leads Wisconsin’s bench in points per game (5.6), as well as assists at nearly two per game. Trice’s early career-high came in the Badgers’ last game against Prairie View A&M, where he put up 10 points in the team’s easy win.
Trice’s early presence and offensive leadership ability is very evident on the court, as the freshman point guard is already comfortable being in command of the offense, and plays with a sense of calmness that is very rare to see in a freshman, especially at such an important position.
This is likely, in part, due to being a starting quarterback in high school, about which Coach Greg Gard often retorts.
“I think if you can lead a huddle of 10 other guys, then you can handle four out on the court,” Gard said with a smile.
Gard’s trust in Trice is very obvious, as the Ohio product also leads all non-starters on the team in minutes at 16 a game. Trice was asked about his coach’s faith in him, responding very honestly.
“It means a lot, that he trusts me out on the court, to play with these older guys, these more experienced guys,” Trice said. “As a freshman, that’s an accomplishment and a big goal. I appreciate him trusting me.”
In addition to the stats and leadership, Trice also provides another element to Wisconsin’s offense. Coach Gard has used it often so far this season, putting the freshman at point guard controlling the ball and senior Bronson Koenig off the ball.
Coach Gard seems to really enjoy trying this lineup in his rotation, as does Trice. “It feels great,” the freshman stated. “Having him (Koenig) off-ball and me at the point, it helps him because it makes it easier for him to score, and helps me find him for assists.”
This lineup is generally run with the starters minus Zak Showalter, and really helps space the floor. Koenig’s biggest strength is his shooting ability and Trice is a clear leader on the court, so it gives the offense more opportunities to catch the defense and take advantage of their own versatility.
Just seven games into a highly anticipated season for the Badgers, D’Mitrik Trice couldn’t feel much better.
“I’m definitely more comfortable, getting the playing time so far, and the trust from the players and coaches,” Trice exclaimed.
At this point, Trice’s ceiling can only go up for this experienced Badgers team.
Wisconsin takes on Syracuse Tuesday night at 6:30pm CT at the Kohl Center.