NCAA Tournament: Trice family ready for another busy basketball weekend, hoping for more

Credit: Seth Wenig

Credit: Seth Wenig

Even before the start of the final college basketball tournaments of the year, the Trice family has already had a memorable March.

Travis and Julie Trice spent the second week of basketball’s biggest month traveling between Cleveland and Indianapolis with short stops in Dayton.

If that sounds like an odd circuit, it is — unless you’re a basketball family at this time of the year.

As many throughout the Midwest are aware, the Trices certainly are a basketball family.

After Travis Trice Sr. played at Purdue and Butler, his oldest son carried on the family legacy at Michigan State, where he helped lead the Spartans to the 2015 Final Four.

With the younger Travis playing professionally in Istanbul, two of his siblings have taken the stage: brother D’Mitrik is a fifth-year senior at Wisconsin and sister Olivia is a sophomore at Bowling Green.

Last weekend, that meant shuttling from central Indiana to watch the Badgers in the Big Ten Tournament to northeast Ohio to see the Falcons in the MAC Tournament and then back again multiple times.

This weekend, they will have to split time between the NCAA Tournament in Indianapolis in the Women’s NIT in Rockford, Ill., but that is no problem as far as Travis Trice Sr. is concerned.

Not that they are complaining.

“This will all be over someday, and we’re going to have an opportunity to look back at all the different experiences — Travis going to the Final Four, winning the state championship during that run in high school and all this running around and stuff — it’ll be well worth it,” he said. “So we’re excited about it.”

That D’Mitrik and Olivia have become college basketball players is no accident.

Not only did they each get to play high school basketball for their father, who coached the boys’ team at Wayne for 10 seasons before taking over the girls’ program almost four years ago, there is also an overall family dynamic at work.

“Success breeds success,” Trice Sr. said. “I’ve always told Travis it’s his responsibility to make sure that D’Mitrik is as good or better than him.”

Rather than be intimidated by that challenge, big brother took it to heart and helped his younger brother by passing on the lessons he learned navigating the worlds of big-time high school and college basketball.

“He kept D’Mitrik by his side,” Trice Sr. said. “Our family is extremely close, as I know most people can tell, and D’Mitrik has taken heed to the things that Travis has told him. They spend a lot of time obviously working out together like all of our kids do now, but that’s really what I attribute a lot of it to is that it’s all about passing it down and taking care of the next one.”

D’Mitrik’s path to standout Big Ten basketball player was not as direct as his older brother’s.

While Travis Trice Jr. went straight to Michigan State, his younger brother thought he might not be ready for the rigors of college basketball immediately after splitting his time between the basketball floor and the football field.

Of course, helping the Warriors get to the state championship game in both sports (they won the 2015 Division I basketball title after losing the football title game the previous fall) was rewarding, but it left little time for Trice to develop his body.

“D’Mitrik had 18-20 Division I offers when he came out of high school, so it wasn’t like he couldn’t go D-I or anything like that,” Trice Sr. said. “But — and this just talks about his maturity and how mature he has always been — he was 158 pounds after we won the state championship in 2015, and he literally came to me, ‘Dad, I feel like I’m behind. I feel like I’ve never gotten ahead of the curve. Basketball is what I’ve always wanted to do, but because I’ve played so much in football and went so deep in football, I’ve been always playing catch up.’”

Even without devoting himself entirely to either sport, D’Mitrik was able to excel at both. He threw for 7,231 yards and 82 touchdowns as a two-year starting quarterback and set the Wayne career assists record (499) in three years as the Warriors’ point guard.

Being forward-thinking enough to want to develop a body to go with the name appears to have paid off.

After averaging 12.3 points, 4.1 assists and 4.0 rebounds at IMG, he signed with Wisconsin.

The Badgers have developed a reputation for developing skilled big guys and steady point guards, and Trice has proven to be the latter in Madison.

He averaged 13.8 points and 4.0 assists this season and made the All-Big Ten third team.

That helped Wisconsin to a sixth-place finish in the Big Ten and a No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Meanwhile, Olivia Trice averaged 2.2 points and 1.1 rebounds in 24 games off the bench for the Falcons, who won the MAC regular season championship and and automatic bid to the NIT.

That means the Trice family will be on the move again this weekend — and splitting up.

Olivia and the Falcons — including fellow Wayne grad Nyla Hampton, who is a starter for BGSU this season — are set to face Creighton at 3 p.m. Friday. If they win, they will face either Dayton or Northern Iowa at 6 p.m. Saturday.

D’Mitrik and the Badgers also play Friday, but their tournament opener against North Carolina does not tip until 7:10 that night.

Travis Sr. said he will be there for his son while his wife makes the trip to Rockford.

“The plan will be for Olivia to win on Friday and then turn around and play the winner of the Dayton game on Saturday,” Trice Sr. said. “So after D’Mitrik’s win over North Carolina on Friday, I’m going to head on over to Rockford and stay in a hotel. Liv will play Saturday and then we would head back to wherever D’Mitrik will play on Sunday.”

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