D’Mitrik Trice paused to watch the highlights — playing on a TV outside the hotel conference rooms used as locker rooms by teams at the Battle 4 Atlantis — of Wisconsin’s 78-58 victory against Oklahoma before starting an interview Thursday.
The Wayne High School graduate Trice, a redshirt sophomore guard, had just set a tournament record with seven 3-pointers. He missed only one attempt from long range and finished with 25 points. He averaged 15.3 points in the three games at Imperial Gym and was named to the all-tournament team Friday after the No. 25 Badgers lost 53-46 to Virginia in the championship game.
» PHOTOS: Trice in action against Oklahoma
The performances meant something extra to Trice because of what he went through last season. He missed the final 23 games with a foot injury.
“It means a lot just to continue to play with confidence,” Trice said. “I give God all the glory, honestly. From where I was last year, I never expected an opportunity like this. I thank my teammates and my coaches for believing in me.”
Through six games for the Badgers (5-1), Trice is averaging 16.8 points while shooting 57.1 percent from 3-point range (2o of 35). Last season in the 10 games he played, he averaged 9.8 points and shot 30 percent from long range (12 of 40).
“All the time and work I put in during the offseason into getting healthy is finally paying off,” Trice said. “I can see that right now.”
The Badgers finished 27-10 and reached the Sweet 16 when Trice was a freshman in 2016-17. He averaged 5.6 points and was one of the team’s top reserves. Last season, Wisconsin finished 15-17, ending a streak of 19 NCAA tournament appearances.
“Watching the team struggle was the hardest thing for me, knowing I could be out there helping,” Trice said. “Honestly, it’s God’s grace really because who knows what I could have done last year and I might not be having the year I’m having this year if I didn’t go through that last year.”
» RELATED: New challenge ahead for Wayne coach Trice
In the Bahamas, Trice played in the same tournament as former Wayne teammate Trey Landers, a junior guard at Dayton. The two started for the 2015 team that won the Division I state championship.
Trice rooted for Dayton to reach the championship game so he could play against Landers and Ryan Mikesell, who he got to know through AAU basketball, but the Flyers lost 66-59 in the semifinals to Virginia.
That 2015 championship remains special for Trice.
“That’s something nobody can take away from us,” he said. “For us to win it with that group of guys that all went on to do better things at the Division I, Division II level, and also for my dad, just playing with my dad in one of his last years (as boys coach).”
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