The Michigan State senior point guard is playing some of the best basketball of his career and has the Spartans in the Sweet 16 Friday night in Syracuse, where they’ll play Oklahoma.
That game tips off about 90 minutes after Huber Heights Wayne tips off in an Ohio Div. I state semifinal against Lakewood St. Edward. Travis Trice is the head coach at Wayne, where he coached his son, Travis, and now coaches his son Dmitrik.
It’s Wayne’s first appearance in a state basketball tournament. Julie Trice, wife of the elder Trice and Travis’s mother, had flown back from Charlotte after the Georgia win for Wayne’s regional final win last Saturday. When all the celebrating was done, the elder Trice, Julie and two family friends packed the car and took off around 1 a.m. Sunday for a seven-hour drive to Charlotte for Michigan State’s game vs. Virginia.
They shared the driving. Upon arrival, they had time to eat, shower and get to the arena.
They enjoyed every second of it.
"It’s been a great run," Trice, the father and coach, said. "I told Travis he just has to get us to Sunday (to the regional final). We’ll try to take care of our business in Columbus on Friday and Saturday."
Travis Trice the point guard has eight games of at least 18 points since Feb. 17. He had 23 points and 3 assists in Michigan State’s win over Virginia and 15 points and 6 assists in that tournament-opening win over Georgia.
A litany of injuries and bad luck — including a mysterious brain infection the summer after his freshman year — had followed Trice through his college career. He’s healthy and playing with confidence now and said last week that everything that happened before "just made me a better person."
A better player, too.
"You’ve got to realize he’s 6-1 and (weighed) a buck 50 when he started," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "He got up to about 172 or 173 and then that summer he got really sick. It was a virus of some kind, they didn’t know. I was worried about his life for a while and it totaled him for the whole summer and he went down I think to 148 pounds.
"Then the next summer he had a couple injuries, too. He had a concussion. When you miss that much time, you can’t get stronger, either. So this (last) summer, if you looked at the spring, summer and fall, he had the best summer ever and I think I wore him down a little bit by the middle of December because we just played him to death at the point, guarding the other team’s best player.
"I can’t say enough about the job he’s done but he has done it the old fashioned way. He’s earned it. He’s a gym rat, his dad’s a coach, his mother was an athlete. Great family."
Very busy family, too.
"Travis is a kid that’s been doubted his whole life," his father said. "Not big enough, strong enough, fast enough whatever it may be, he has heard it all. And here he is.
"As a dad, I’m very proud."
Huber Heights Wayne and St. Edward also played for the Div. I state football title last December, which St. Edward won. The winner of Friday night’s game will play Westerville South or Garfield Heights Saturday night at 8:30 for the state title; the title game will air live on SportsTime Ohio.