All the attention is generally hurled toward Ethan Happ, for excellent reason, but people should probably stop sleeping on Wisconsin Badgers guard D’Mitrik Trice. He is, after all, quickly becoming a relative eater-of-worlds and someone who doesn’t mind devouring a soul here and there.
Wisconsin, off to a solid 9-2 to the 2018-19 season, is traditionally known for its plodding, almost lethargic offense. Instead of highlight reels featuring transition dunks or runaway threes, the Badgers usually dominate the headlines for their defense and ability to draw charges.
Trice, who doesn’t appear to be a man worth trifling with, is a bit of an outlier.
A former three-star prospect out of the 2016 recruiting class (not even ranked by ESPN), Trice is evolving, becoming one of the nastiest players in all of the Big Ten. Hyperbole this is not, as the data suggests a nation is overdue when it comes to learning about his exploits.
Prior to this season, Trice’s numbers were a bit all over the place. He showed flashes of brilliance from beyond the arc, but his numbers from the floor were atrocious, shooting below 40 percent from the field in his first 47 games played.
Since then, however, it’s as if D’Mitrik Trice has been touched by a basketball angel. Through 11 games this season, he’s not only averaging 16.1 points per contest, but is shooting a stunning 49 percent from the floor and a mind boggling fantastic 56 percent from distance.
Let that wash over your presumably sexy torso like a cold shower the morning after drinking all of the Miller products available at your local pub. In a sport that’s evolving where mid-range jumpers are becoming less and less a requirement for success, the Wisconsin Badgers have an unsung talent who is making over half of his shots from where the points are 50 percent more valuable.
It’s important to note that not all of his shots are just simple setup jumpers. While he certainly receives help from playing alongside all-world players like Happ, who draw the majority of the attention, Trice is capable of creating his own offense, even using his new reputation as a sharpshooter to get to the rim.
In the following video, you will notice how the defense is refusing Trice any room from distance. They know, as we now realize, he’s too deadly to allow him to operate from beyond the arc. In turn, while using the extended defense and a teammate’s screen, Trice patiently trots around the aggressive defense, then dances to the rim for a still-tough floater he finishes — which actually highlights how he’s not a one-dimensional, range-shooter.
The offensive versatility, even if largely due to teams being overly aggressive, isn’t like putting a cherry on top of the figurative cake. Instead, it’s like putting yet another cake on top of the cake, then being able to eat it without any concern over future weight gain.
Yet, make no bones about it, Trice’s value for Wisconsin is from deep. By hitting his shots from beyond the arc, and in the volume he’s managed to do it with (5.7 attempts per game), it will force defenses to be more honest, opening up opportunities for a force like Happ.
While more complicated than this, if boiling it down to its most simplistic form, the Happ-Trice combination is resulting in circulatory success for each. By Happ having a reputation as an impacting player, Trice was receiving the benefit of less aggressive defense to start the season, as teams were geared toward stopping the large human. Since Trice has taken advantage of it, teams will now reckon with Happ with a less crowded presence in the paint. So on and so forth and it’s all gravy for the Wisconsin Badgers.
When discussing this improved version of Wisconsin’s offense, which is largely due to the growth of Trice, it’s certainly worth noting we’re playing small sample size theater. Eleven games isn’t exactly a ton of data to go off of, though the Badgers averaging over 75 points per game, while allowing merely 62.4, is promising regardless.
Nevertheless, with an offensive team rating over 112, as the Badgers operate with known components such as Ethan Happ, the emergence of D’Mitrik Trice has been as stunning as it’s been pleasant for the program.
For those outside the Wisconsin faithful bubble, it doesn’t hurt that Trice is insanely fun to watch.
Welcome to 2018. A place in space and time when we’re talking about a Wisconsin Badgers talent being legitimately fun to watch in an unironic way.
Joseph Nardone has covered college basketball for nearly a decade for various outlets in a variety of ways. You can follow him on Twitter @JosephNardone.
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