Trice’s jump from Wayne to Wright State good for all involved

FAIRBORN — Before landing on the Wright State staff, Travis Trice was busy with an ultra-successful career at Wayne High School and would’ve have been perfectly content to keep churning out winners and top players for years to come.

He’d captured a state title in his 10 seasons with the boys and then switched to the girls for the chance to coach his daughter, advancing as far as the regional finals.

He produced 24 Division-I recruits — including sons Travis II and D’Mitrik, who went on to become Big Ten stars, and McDonald’s All-American Bree Hall, who plays extensively as a freshman for top-ranked South Carolina — while claiming 10 conference titles in 14 years.

Though he had numerous chances to jump to college, he always turned them down because he never wanted to upset the family dynamics.

But when Raiders coach Scott Nagy comes after you — with his track record and high-character reputation — it’s difficult to say no.

“When I got an interview with Scott, he just said, ‘I don’t want any drama. I don’t want egos.’ And he’s the same way with the guys he recruits,” Trice said. “He’s just not interested in a ‘me’ mentality or people who feel entitled — whether that’s a coach or player. That was the majority of our initial conversation.”

Nagy’s direct approach hit home with Trice. And with just one of his five children still at home, the 49-year-old former Purdue and Butler player was ready to make a move.

“To be honest, it was God’s intervention: the timing, being 10 minutes from home. But even more than that, when you talk about a great situation, it’s a perfect fit,” he said.

“The most important piece is the people I coach with. It’s been so powerful for me to connect with some men, not just on a basketball level — yeah, that’s our job — but on a spiritual and mental level. That’s been more important to me than anything.”

He still runs a State Farm Insurance Agency — Nagy has been one of his clients — and becoming a college assistant has put additional stress on his time.

There was no recruiting at Wayne, but it’s a major component in his new role.

And there are no seminars to prepare newcomers in the art of wooing prospects.

“I was hired mid-week in June. Wednesday was my first day in the office. And Friday I was out recruiting,” he said.

“It was probably the greatest thing that could’ve happened. You don’t have time to think. They tell you what the rules are and how the operation works, and you get out there and get right to it.”

Credit: Courtesy of Wright State univers

Credit: Courtesy of Wright State univers

Trice’s best attribute may be his people skills. And what he’s learned with the Raiders is that college players are just as much in need of that personal touch as those in high school.

“That was one of the questions I had. In high school, you nurture kids in a certain way. I wasn’t sure moving up a few years with more mature kids — kids who have been away from home — what the gap was going to look like,” he said.

“The biggest thing for me is I just want to pour into their lives so they can be better husbands (and) dads.”

Nagy had to replace three of his five assistants in the offseason.

Sharif Chambliss went to Wisconsin. Brian Cooley moved on to Colorado State. And Nick Nagy (the coach’s son) entered the business world.

Joining the staff with Trice was Dan Beré from Jacksonville and Tae Gibbs from Trevecca Nazarene University.

Clint Sargent is still associate head coach, and Nick Goff stayed in his role as director of operations.

Trice works with mostly with guards, though everyone jumps in where needed.

He’s also a confidant for Nagy. He’s the only former head coach on the bench and can give valuable input from that perspective.

“He’s a guy who has been able to come alongside me and has been a tremendous support for me,” Nagy said. “No ego. Loves on the kids. He’s been such a help for so many of our guys in terms of their mental state and how they play.

“To have the success he’s had and to come in, in terms of perception — Clint is my associate head coach. But he doesn’t care. That’s what I mean about no ego. He’s been such a great addition to our staff and me personally.”

Trice’s daughter Olivia plays for Florida International. Middle child Isaiah is working in the area, while the youngest, Acelynne, is a seventh-grader.

Travis II and D’Mitrik are playing for the same pro team in Poland, and they provided plenty of thrills for their parents in college.

Travis II helped Michigan State to a Final Four appearance, and D’Mitrik had a hand in Wisconsin making three NCAA trips (it would have been four if the 2020 tourney wasn’t canceled).

Travis Sr. and wife Julie seldom missed a game.

“Being a State Farm agent and owning a business, my wife and I would leave in the afternoon at 3 o’clock, get to the game and come back the same night. Some of those Wisconsin trips, we’d get back anywhere from 5 to 7 in the morning. Michigan State was three hours and 45 minutes,” he said.

“If you have kids out there doing things, regardless of what it is, you want to pour into them. That’s what we did. We supported them as much as we could. And we had an amazing time doing it.”

He may have someone else’s kids who need his support now, but he’s just as committed.

“I said this to Scott the other day: ‘Thank you for taking a chance on me.’ I know it wasn’t typical or conventional. But he saw something in me that led him to give me an opportunity,” Trice said.

“I’m humbled, first and foremost, but also grateful and blessed. I’m receiving as much out of this as anybody. I give all glory to Christ for what it’s meant to the Trice family. And I’m looking forward to continuing this journey.”

About the Author