Each and every day, Travis Trice is working to prove himself.
On a team with four- and five-star talent, such as Gary Harris, Keith Appling, Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson, Trice can sometimes be lost in the shuffle.
Not highly recruited, the junior guard was rated a three-star by Rivals and ESPN and only had offers from Butler, Dayton, Minnesota and Northwestern. That’s the reason he will look to go out and prove himself against No. 1 Kentucky and its plethora of top recruits Tuesday. But it’s not just top-ranked Kentucky, Trice said he goes out every single game to try and prove himself to opposing teams.
“I take everything personally, no matter who we’re playing,” Trice said. “Pretty much any team we play I’m trying to go at them and prove myself, but at the end of the day all I care about is winning and making my teammates better.”
The Huber Heights, Ohio, native has been praised by head coach Tom Izzo for his basketball IQ, leadership and has helped MSU’s transition offense — a key component to this year’s team.
But his first two seasons in East Lansing haven’t been without a couple bumps in the road.
The summer after his freshman year, Trice had an infection that caused him to drop 22 pounds in weight, as well as miss an entire season of developing.
During his sophomore season last year, Trice missed a total of nine games because of concussions. In the first game against Connecticut at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany, Trice suffered a concussion causing him to miss the next five games. In late January, Trice sustained another concussion against Illinois, which caused him to miss four games.
But during the team’s media day last month, Izzo called Trice the team’s most improved player over the summer and said he is in the best shape of his life.
Trice also said he’s a better person spiritually and basketball is much more fun to him.
“You don’t know how much we missed him last year in some games,” Izzo said. “He was our second-best three?point shooter, and I think that’s improved some. So with him, it’s mostly his health and I think great improvement in his skills.”
In the season opener against McNeese State, Trice proved to be a lift for the Spartans off the bench and was the difference in the first half, Izzo said.
Trice scored 11 points, nine of which were off 3-pointers. The other two came from a breakaway dunk — his first in a collegiate game. He also dished out eight assists and snagged five rebounds.
As the highly anticipated game pitting the top two teams in the game approaches, Trice will be ready to perform on the big stage and in front of a national audience.
“It’s a big opportunity, and that’s the reason we come here,” Trice said. “Growing up as a kid it’s what you dream of, being on this stage and the chance to be No.1 if we win. I think we just gotta live in the moment but also take it as an opportunity.”