From His Dad to Tom Izzo to Jeff Van Gundy, Travis Trice Has Learned From the Best
Trice played a key role for the latest USA World Cup Qualifying Team.
Growing up under the same roof as a basketball coach was a blessing for USA Basketball guard Travis Trice. He learned more about the game in conversations with his father at the breakfast table or in car rides than his peers could ever hope to know.
Of course, when Travis Jr. began playing for Travis Sr. at Wayne High School in Ohio, those meals and car rides sometimes could be an extension of the coaching Travis Sr. really meant for other members of the team.
“I used to get mad at my teammates sometimes for getting in trouble or messing up plays, because I got to hear about it later on,” Trice said.
But all that exposure to coaching has paid off multiple times for Trice and the teams he has played on over the years, including four years with Tom Izzo and the Michigan State University Spartans and, most recently, with Jeff Van Gundy and the USA Basketball Men’s World Cup Qualifying Team.
Just look at the team’s Dec. 2 game at Uruguay. With a chance to officially lock down an invitation to next year’s FIBA World Cup and the U.S. trailing in the fourth quarter, Trice put the team on his back and scored eight points down the stretch to lead the Americans to a 78-70 win.
That resilience was honed all those years ago as the son of a coach.
“That is what has really helped me get to where I am today,” said Trice, 25. “I’ve never been the strongest, the fastest or the best. But, I try to out-think people and know the game.”
Trice finished the Uruguay game as the leading scorer for the U.S. with 17 points, five rebounds and four assists. The victory assured the U.S. a place in the 32-team FIBA World Cup, which takes place Aug. 31-Sept.15 in China.
The win also meant the USA World Cup Qualifying Team will go into the final two qualifying games — Feb. 22 against Panama and Feb. 25 against Argentina — with no pressure. Both of those games will be played at the Fieldhouse at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Regardless of where his relationship with USA Basketball goes from here, Trice has been thrilled to participate in two qualifying windows and help provide the opportunity for his country to win a third-straight world title next year.
“It’s been a great experience,” Trice said. “It’s been an extreme honor really just for one, to get selected and then to come and just learn.
“A lot of us never thought we’d ever put on a Team USA jersey. So, for us to not only get a chance to play but also be the team that clinches it and get the berth in the World Cup, it means a lot.”
The U.S. lost a World Cup Qualifying game to Argentina on Nov. 29 in front of a capacity and partisan crowd in La Rioja, Argentina, and Trice was the only American to score in double figures in the game, finishing with 16 points while knocking down five of his 10 shots.
Trice said being the son of a coach helped him care about the game at an early age and pay attention to how coaches went about their business. He also began understanding the nuances of the game sooner than most players his age, and along with hours and hours of practice, it allowed him to achieve more than might have been expected of a player who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 177 pounds.
Since college, where trice played in 134 games and compiled 1,135 points and 387 assists, Trice has played professionally in Australia and Lebanon, as well as playing for the Wisconsin Herd and the Westchester Knicks in the NBA G League. He said one of the best parts of participating in World Cup Qualifying windows this year has been the opportunity to learn from Van Gundy.
“His attention to detail is great,” Trice said. “I’ve never met a coach like him as far as his attention to detail. He can see a play in practice, and after the play is over, he’ll stop it and he’ll literally tell everybody what they did wrong. It’s just crazy.
“Him and Izzo remind me a lot of each other as far as their attention to detail and also their preparation. I mean, we know everything about every team we play. We know each guy’s tendencies. I’m just trying to pick up and learn some of his habits.”