Indiana star forward Trayce Jackson-Davis announced Friday that he will return for his senior season with the Hoosiers after testing the NBA Draft waters on the heels of earning second-team All-Big Ten honors as a junior. Jackson-Davis averaged 18.3 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.3 blocks on 58.9% shooting while helping Indiana snap a five-year NCAA Tournament drought in coach Mike Woodson's first season.
The former No. 30 overall prospect from the 2019 recruiting class has been an All-Big Ten performer in each of his three college seasons and will be an early favorite to be the league's player of the year next season. His return, along with the expected returns of other key players such as Xavier Johnson and front court partner Race Thompson, should give IU a great chance to finish above .500 in league play for the first time since the 2015-16 season.
In addition to a quality core of returning talent, the Hoosiers also welcome the nation's No. 10 ranked recruiting class headlined by five-star prospects Jalen Hood-Schilfino and Malik Reneau. Along with a highlight video announcing his return that concluded with the words "I'm back," Jackson-Davis simply tweeted "23'" in a sign of anticipation for what's to come.
Though Indiana was relegated to a First Four game and eliminated with a lopsided loss to Saint Mary's in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the return of Jackson-Davis combined with the amount of incoming talent under Woodson should raise expectations considerably within the Hoosiers' long-suffering fan base.
Why Jackson-Davis is coming back
While Jackson-Davis' decision to return may be regarded as a surprise by some, there are likely a combination of factors at play. Outside shooting is viewed as a non-negotiable skill for most hopeful first-round picks, and it's the one glaring hole in his game. Jackson-Davis has attempted three 3-pointers in 94 career college games.
Additionally, with the advent of the name, image and likeness era in college sports, Jackson-Davis should have an opportunity to profit in a meaningful way while suiting up for one more season with his in-state school. The Greenwood, Indiana, native gave Woodson a huge jolt to begin his coaching tenure by opting to return following the transition from Archie Miller last season. Now, after tasting the NCAA Tournament and exiting in the first round, he's repeating that decision and will play a pivotal role in Indiana's attempt to continue rising.
Front-runner for Big Ten Player of the Year
All five players who earned first-team All-Big Ten honors in the 2021-22 season are headed to the professional ranks, and three of the other five who joined Jackson-Davis on the second team are departing as well. That puts Jackson-Davis in prime position to compete for Big Ten Player of the Year along with the likes of Michigan big man Hunter Dickinson and Purdue center Zach Edey.