Trayce Jackson-Davis scores a spot in the NBA as a Golden State Warrior
Writer / Kevin Conrad, CG Sports Network
Photography / Golden State Warriors, Getty Images, Brian Brosmer, JWCreative.Indy, Center Grove High School, Jackson Family
Center Grove High School’s (CGHS) most decorated boys’ basketball player had his dream of playing professional basketball realized when he was selected 57th in the second round of the 2023 NBA Draft in June. The former Trojan will play for the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco after they acquired the draft rights to the 6’9” forward from the Washington Wizards.
“This is the best organization in the world for basketball,” says Jackson-Davis. “They strive for greatness. They strive to win championships and that’s something I want to be a part of.”
“I think he is the steal of the draft,” says Jackson-Davis’ CGHS head basketball coach, Zach Hahn. “I talked to 30 of 32 teams in the NBA over the last 2 years and all of them raved about him. Everything happens for a reason, and he landed the perfect opportunity with Golden State. I think he will slowly earn playing time and help them compete for an NBA Championship as early as next season if given the opportunity.”
Jackson-Davis played four years of varsity basketball for CGHS, helping the Trojans to their first final-four appearance in the state tournament. He set school records in scoring, rebounding, and blocked shots and earned the Indiana Mr. Basketball award following his senior season in 2019.
“When I was growing up, I didn’t even know I was going to be a basketball player until about my junior year of high school. I got pretty good at it and I thought I had a shot at it so I continued to work.”
“The first change in Trayce was his body finally developing into the athlete that you see today,” says Hahn. “I give Trayce and Coach Mills (CGHS Strength Coach) a lot of credit for getting him physically ready, even with the special athletic ability that he already demonstrated. You don’t see many 6’9” sophomores front squatting and power cleaning. It gave him a competitive advantage. The second change that happened was his mentality. He went from being unsure about himself confidence-wise and wasn’t intrinsically motivated to a relentless worker in pursuit of his goals and dreams.”
Golden State General Manager Mike Dunleavy, Jr. says Jackson-Davis has a proven track record based on what he accomplished playing for the Indiana Hoosiers.
“Very productive college player,” says Dunleavy. “We think there’s tremendous value there. He’s been a four-year college player, a proven player, a skilled player, a tough competitor, and most importantly character. He can do a lot of things, such as defend, rebound, finish, and his passing really improved over the last year or two in college. A guy that will provide insurance and hopefully be able to grow within our program. What we’re getting as a player and person really put it over the top. Great fit for the Warrior program.”
Dunleavy emphasized how important character is for him and the Golden State franchise when evaluating players. Hahn gives a lot of credit to Jackson-Davis’ family for helping him along the way.
“Your support system is huge when you are highly successful at anything,” says Hahn. “For Trayce, he was fortunate to have a family that pushed him and taught him valuable life lessons. They brought him up with great core values. As I tell our players ‘You are who you hang out with.’ Trayce has surrounded himself with quality people who genuinely care about him and his future.”
Golden State won the NBA world championship in 1947, 1956, 1975, 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2022. The Warriors’ most recent success has been spearheaded on the court by their ‘Big Three’, guard Stephen Curry, guard Klay Thompson, and forward Draymond Green. Jackson-Davis says he’s prepared to learn from his new teammates.
“Being a sponge and absorbing all the knowledge the veterans have,” says Jackson-Davis. “They like to play in space and I like to pass the ball and be unselfish. I think it’s going to be a great fit for all of us.”
“Trayce could not have been drafted into a better situation,” says Hahn. “Veterans fill their roster and can help him get acquainted with the NBA lifestyle and the relentless work ethic he has to have to compete daily to have a long successful career.”
Jackson-Davis’ biological father, Dale Davis, played 16 seasons in the NBA which included a short stint with Golden State. Davis had the following advice for his son.
“The biggest thing he told me is to be consistent,” says Jackson-Davis. “Finding a routine and going in every day and working your hardest. That’s going to help you get to where you want to be.”
The NBA Draft experts had projected Jackson-Davis to be selected late in the first round or early in the second round. However, the high school and college All-American slid to the second-to-last spot. He says this provides extra motivation for him.
“I always play with a chip on my shoulder,” says Jackson-Davis. “Even coming out of high school and going to a school like Indiana, a lot of people doubted my abilities. After four years and what I was able to accomplish there, it was above and beyond what everyone thought. This is the next step in my journey and I know I have to work. I believe in my abilities and we’ll let God handle the rest. Watching picks going and going, I just basically said I’m fired up and I’m ready to go, honestly.”
“When Trayce plays with a chip on his shoulder, he is a possessed monster,” says Hahn. “His game goes to an entirely different level and he is the best player on the court, regardless of the level of play. He is someone who has been overlooked and underappreciated his entire life, I think that just adds fuel to the fire and allows him to stay hungry, stay motivated, to prove others wrong.”
The Warriors value Jackson-Davis so much, they signed him to a four-year contract. Dunleavy, Jr. says he will be on their 15-player roster when the 2023-24 season tips off. Jackson-Davis shares what he can bring to the Warriors.
“My motor. The way I run the floor. The way I bring the ball up the floor,” says Jackson-Davis. “Match-up problems on defense by bringing slower guys out and being able to pass the ball to open shooters, the best shooters in the world.”
His high school coach says he not only has a lot to offer on the court, but he has a lot to offer off the court, too.
“The best attributes about Trayce are his humility and infectious personality,” says Hahn. “He changes the energy level in the room and never has a too-cool mentality. He can hold meaningful conversations with fans ranging from third-grade future Trojans to lifelong elderly IU fans. He always puts others first and is first to smile. A special person, a special player. As humble as they come. He deserves all the success in the world.”
When Jackson-Davis has an opportunity to meet his new ‘Big Three’ teammates, he can share with them that his high school coach beat all three of them in college basketball while playing for Butler. The Bulldogs beat Curry at Davidson during the regular season, Green at Michigan State in the NCAA Final 4, and Thompson at Washington State in a regular-season tournament championship game in Hawaii. On the other hand, coming in as a rookie, maybe it would be best to keep this to himself.