Mike Woodson made clear during his first day on the job that his first crucial task as Indiana’s men’s basketball coach was re-recruiting the program’s own players.
So far, so great.
On Friday afternoon, All-American big Trayce Jackson-Davis announced that he will return to school for his junior season, giving the Hoosiers not only one of the best returning players in the Big Ten, but in the country.
“Indiana basketball is something that I have been blessed to be a part of,” Jackson-Davis said in a statement. “After talking with Coach Woodson and family, I believe it is in my best interest to come back for my junior year. Hoosier Nation has been down for a while now and I want to be a part of the change that makes it great again. One last go around with the candy striples. Let’s get to work!”
In one of his first sitdown interviews as IU’s coach, Woodson told play-by-play voice Don Fischer earlier this week that he would beg Jackson-Davis to return if he had to. Whether or not Woodson had to plead the Center Grove product to consider his message is not known, but Woodson did have a compelling pitch to sell to the in-state star: stick with me, I’ll teach you to use your right hand and get you better prepared for the next level.
Even while leaning almost exclusively on his left hand, Jackson-Davis was excellent for IU this past season. He earned All-America honors from the United States Basketball Writers of America and the Sporting News after finishing fourth in the Big Ten in scoring (19.1 ppg), second in rebounding (9.0) and fifth in field goal percentage (51.7).
Woodson’s in-house recruiting isn’t done yet. A few IU players remain in the transfer portal, including Khristian Lander, Armaan Franklin, Jordan Geronimo and Race Thompson.