MADISON — It’s the first day of classes, mid-morning on a cold and brisk day to start off the second semester. In Humanities 3650, one of the largest lecture halls on campus, the professor is on stage speaking into the microphone so everyone can hear.
The lecture hall holds about 400-500 students, and goes 30-40 rows back. Just a few minutes into the lecture, the professor asks for three volunteers. Sitting in the second row, front and center, none other than Wisconsin freshman point guard D’Mitrik Trice raises his hand to volunteer. The professor was elated to see a student so engaged, and Trice had no idea what he was in for at the moment.
Showing no visible nerves, Trice went on stage in front of a new class, and proceeded to read a few lines, completed with a solo singing line for each volunteer. The girl on stage was a trained singer, while the two guys now looked a little nervous, including Trice.
Nevertheless, they did what they were asked to do. And amidst a few cheers from the crowd, Trice delivered. He was relaxed, genuine, and so good the professor complemented him on his voice, followed by a loud ovation from the students.
The amazing thing about it was that the seemingly effortless performance by Trice is nothing new.
Whether it was football in high school, basketball at IMG Academy, or leading the bench in minutes as a freshman for the No. 10 Wisconsin Badgers, Trice has always been a calm and composed performer.
“In high school, my coach told me I was the most poised quarterback he’s ever had, and he’s had some really good quarterbacks come out of that school,” said the true freshman from Huber Heights, Ohio.
“The poise that I’ve had to have, going through football, going through high school, has really helped me get to this position.”
In addition to leading the Badgers in bench minutes, Trice also leads the reserves in scoring, and is one of the Big Ten Conference leaders in three-point field goal percentage at nearly 48% from deep. The Ohio native is such a threat from three, the team made a stat category just for him, called the Trice Tracker for made threes.
Off the court, Trice also made the Dean’s List during his first semester at the university, which is not a small feat by any means. With achievements like that, one should be pretty confident with himself, and that’s no different for “Meech,” as his teammates and friends affectionately call him.
“My biggest thing, like I’ve always said, is my confidence level,” Trice explained in relating it back to hoops. “I’m not the biggest or strongest guy, but when I’m out there, you know I’m on the court. I feel that I’m a threat on the court, teams have to guard me, and I believe I’m on their scouting report.”
Even with some early successes and confidence, Trice doesn’t take it for granted, and is easily one of the hardest-working players on the team, while still seeing results.
“It feels great, actually, just to see that my hard work is paying off,” Trice exclaimed.
Some of that hard work includes, more often than not, being one of the last players on the team taking hundreds of jump shots after a full practice. The first-year player is not satisfied with what he has done so far, though. “Overall, I think I’m doing well,” said Trice. “There’s still a lot more that I can do, to contribute to this team. But I’m just out here doing everything I can to help this team win, because that’s what I’m out here to do.”
Like most players in the Wisconsin basketball program, Trice really tries to put the team first. “Obviously, it feels good to be at the top of the Big Ten. I think our team confidence is at a high level right now. We’re practicing well, we’re playing well.”
While he has made it look easy both on and off the court, there have been some challenges along the way. “The toughest thing I would have to say is just transitioning to college, from my high school and prep school, whether that’s juggling school, a social life, and basketball all at the same time. Living on my own has been a little bit different, being away from the family.”
It’s not surprising that the transition hasn’t been easy, as Trice is a social person and driven student off the court, but also very close with his family, including a father and big brother that both played college ball. On the court, there have also been some bumps in the road, as there are for most freshmen with the transition period.
“On the court, I would say the physicality and quickness is a step ahead of what anyone can even imagine in high school. Here, everybody is so much better.”
That being said, Trice is very appreciative of his time that he spent at IMG Academy last season, with fellow freshman and good friend Aleem Ford. “Going to IMG really helped because we not only played post-grad, but we played junior colleges as well, so there was a lot of good competition there too,” said Trice.
As most Badger fans know by now, D’Mitrik is the younger brother of former Michigan State guard Travis Trice. Their relationship is as tight as can be, watching each other, talking about performances, and sometimes even FaceTime-ing right after one plays a game.
While going to school in Madison, Trice has another type of big brother – starting point guard Bronson Koenig. When asked about their relationship and Koenig in general as a leader, Trice literally couldn’t say enough about him.
“Honestly, he’s just an inspiration,” said Trice. “I look at everything he does, whether it’s on social media or on the court, and how he leads, and I want to be that.”
Meech is well on his way, adding, “He’s obviously a senior, and about to be out of here, and he’s passing that all on to me. He’s always wanted a wingman, or an understudy, and I’ve kind of been that for him.”
If Trice is just a wingman now, it should be incredible to see how he performs as the full-blown leader, when more of the spotlight shines on him.
Whenever his time comes, Trice will step up to the stage, deliver, and keep his fellow Badgers in good hands – whether that’s in Theatre 120 or in the NCAA Tournament, it’ll happen.