If you are a fan of the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team, you’re well aware of the impact D’Mitrik Trice has on the team. Trice is playing the best basketball of his Wisconsin career, but how did his play get to the level it is today?
Trice is a redshirt senior spending his fifth year with the team. His career with the Badgers began during the 2016-2017 season, where he played in 37 games, yet only started two of them, replacing senior Bronson Koenig while he was injured. Trice averaged 18.2 minutes per game during his freshman season while recording 5.6 points per game, 1.7 assists per game and 1.9 rebounds per game.
The Badgers finished that season with a 27-10 record, defeating 1-seed Villanova in the 2017 NCAA Tournament before suffering a heartbreaking loss to the University of Florida. Trice was not a significant component of the team — seniors like Bronson Koenig, Nigel Hayes, Zak Showalter and sophomore Ethan Happ stacked the Badgers that year.
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In Trice’s sophomore year, he played in 10 games, starting all 10 of them before suffering a season-ending foot injury. Due to the injury, Trice was granted a medical redshirt, meaning he would have another year of eligibility.
Through those 10 games, Trice averaged 31.5 minutes, 9.4 points, 2.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. While only 10 games went into these stats, Trice clearly improved, and filled the void left by lead-guard Bronson Koenig’s departure.
Moving on to his next season as a redshirt sophomore, Trice started all 34 games for the Badgers, averaging 32.5 minutes, 11.6 points, 2.6 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game. The team finished 23-11 on the season before losing in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at the University of Oregon.
While it was not the way the team wanted to end their season, they went out with plenty of hope for the 2020 season. Younger players on the team proved themselves as vital assets, particularly Trice, whose 11.6 PPG averaged second on the team to senior Ethan Happ.
During his redshirt junior season, Trice’s play remained constant, but his scoring game didn’t dominate as much as the season prior. Trice still averaged 9.8 PPG, but what made things interesting were the 4.0 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game he averaged.
Trice stepped up his play in areas outside of scoring. He began playing at more of a “team-first” pace, distributing the ball better and getting everyone involved. He recorded 131 assists as a redshirt junior — a dramatic improvement from 90 his previous season and 63 during his freshman season (23 assists through 10 games of his sophomore season).
The season shattered everyone’s expectations and anticipations. After starting the season 12-10 with some questionable losses to various Big Ten opponents, the Badgers went on to win their last eight games. Ultimately, the Badgers finished the season as Big Ten regular-season champions, but weren’t able to ride the momentum of their eight-game winning streak, as COVID-19 canceled both the Big Ten and NCAA Tournament.
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Over the years, fans have witnessed a steady increase in Trice’s ability to control the team and step up when needed. His play has become more well-rounded and he has truly embraced his leadership role with the Badgers — the 2020-2021 season has been the epitome of that.
The team entered the season ranked seventh in the nation. Wisconsin started the season with five senior starters — Trice, Micah Potter, Aleem Ford, Brad Davison and Nate Reuvers. These guys have been playing together for four years, so team chemistry was bound to be at an all-time high.
The season started with three consecutive home wins against Eastern Illinois, Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Green Bay. The team played great, winning these three games by an aggregate score of 251-167, but the hot start came to a screeching halt when the team dropped a road game at the buzzer to Marquette.
The team is 10-4 since the loss to Marquette and Trice’s play has been phenomenal. He’s shooting 44.5% from the field, compared to 38% throughout his career prior and 42.2% from behind the arc, both career highs thus far.
Trice is proving he can score in ways we have only seen glimpses of throughout his years at Wisconsin, but most importantly, he has found his role as a leader. His ability to direct the team and find the open man, especially late in games, is what has brought his play to the next level during his final season with the Badgers.
There’s still a lot of basketball to play throughout the remainder of the season, especially since both the Big Ten Tournament and NCAA Tournament are scheduled to be played in March. Until then, the Badgers have nine games remaining, including five against ranked opponents.