Mike Woodson on Trayce Jackson-Davis: “I’m hoping like hell he comes back because he’s a big piece to the puzzle”

  • 05/18/2022 8:01 am in

Indiana coach Mike Woodson spoke to reporters on Tuesday night in Fort Wayne ahead of his appearance at the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana Gourmet Dinner.

Woodson was asked about a variety of things, including his first season in Bloomington, the status of Trayce Jackson-Davis, NIL, the transfer portal and more.

A full transcript of his comments is available below:

On how he would characterize his first season at IU:

“I thought it was a good season. Considering where I started with this ball club … it’s a great question, because I tell you, when I gave this all-star speech when I got the job and became the head coach of the Hoosiers, I couldn’t get anyone to commit to stay on board. A lot of players were disgruntled, for whatever reason, they were. I had to do some damage control because I was searching after that first meeting with the team where guys didn’t raise their hands to stay on board. So I went to the top. I went straight to Trayce Jackson-Davis and got him to commit to stay on board and everybody seemed to fall in line. And I needed that, you know, being the first time coach here for the Hoosiers. They gave me all they could give me. We were able to win 21 games and I thought it was a successful run in making the (NCAA) tournament. I was very please and I thanked them and told them how much I loved them. And now we’ve got to get better. That’s the name of the game when you’re coaching.”

On the adjustments from the NBA to college:

“I don’t think it was a big adjustment … I mean the recruiting is a big deal because you’ve got to recruit talent in order to be better as a ball club. It’s the same way on the NBA level. I think the beauty about college and the college game for me as a coach, it gives you more time to teach and prepare. The NBA game doesn’t allow you to do that because you’ve got three or four games coming at you a week and it’s just not enough time in the day to teach and prepare. You’re really scrambling a lot. But in the college game, that’s the beauty about it. I love to teach and I put a good staff around me to help me with my preparation. Which I love doing that as well, putting a game plan together and hoping that the players can execute it. And if they do, more than likely you win ball games. We had our fair share of ups and downs this year with our ball club, but for the most part, it was enjoyable for me from a coaching standpoint.”

On the difference between having a full calendar year under his belt versus coming in last spring:

“It’s a big difference because I’ve had an opportunity now to recruit some players that I think can help our ball club. I think the big question now is, ‘is Trayce Jackson-Davis going to come back?’ I know he’s going to test the (NBA draft) combine this week in Chicago. And then he’s got until June 1 to make the decision if he’s going to go pro or come back. I’m hoping like hell he comes back because he’s a big piece to the puzzle.”

On how to plan for next year not knowing whether TJD is going to be back:

“Well again, my model has always been next man up. We got Race (Thompson) coming back. We’ve got Logan (Duncomb) who is a younger center that’s got to grow and mature into his body. And then we got the freshman Malik (Reneau) coming in. Those guys gotta grow up quickly. It’s next man up. You’re getting an opportunity to play off the bat. If Trayce comes back, he’s going to occupy a lot of minutes at that position. But hey, we’ve enough talent around Trayce that if he doesn’t come back, those guys gotta step up and play. I gotta coach ‘em up.”

On Coach Bob Knight speaking at the Big Brothers Big Sisters dinner in Fort Wayne in the past:

“He’s the greatest coach that’s ever graced the college basketball floor in my mind. If I can accomplish half of the things he accomplished as a coach at Indiana, I’ll be a happy man. My clock is ticking, though. I got to do it awfully fast. Coach Knight had a stellar career as a coach and he’s there in Bloomington and we get an opportunity to see him off and on. I’m blessed because I played for a great college coach in Bob Knight.”

On whether he speaks to Knight for advice:

“I try to. His health is somewhat declining a little bit. But I know he’s there in heart and spirit and that means more to me than anything.”

On navigating name, image and likeness and the transfer portal and the challenges they present:

“I’m not against players getting paid. I’ve said that numerous times. But I am against players that strictly that uses the college sport just to get paid. I just think they’re going about it the wrong way if they do it that way. The NIL is there to pay players money and if they can negotiate their money, I’m happy for them. But you come to college to get an education and play basketball if that’s the sport you choose. So that, to me, is first and foremost. And if you think any other way, I don’t want you on our ball club. You can go somewhere else and do your thing that way in that regard. It’s around, you can’t get away from it. The portal, I think, changes the game in terms of how you navigate your team every season because you’re going to have someone that is going to be disgruntled that wants to leave. It’s a part of it and I tell the players that if you don’t want to play for us, then you leave and I’ll find somebody that would love to play and wear that uniform.”

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