If you ask Wossman’s Nick Traylor what his favorite play from this past season was, he has two in mind.
The first was a dunk by sophomore guard Devonte Austin over a Rayville player. And the second was a clutch 3-point make from senior guard Rayson Robinson that forced overtime against Peabody in the Class 3A semifinals. Traylor’s answer is symbolic for the type of team player he truly was as a junior.
“I like my teammates plays over my plays,” Traylor said, modestly. “I could have easily decided to shoot the ball, but I decided to pass it to Ray-Ray in the corner. And he made the shot. While we’re in class in sixth period, he’s down here making 100 3’s. He’ll shoot as many shots as he needs to make 100 3-pointers, and that’s why I trusted him in that moment.”
Wossman head coach Casey Jones wasn’t surprised the 2019 Ouachita Citizen Boys Basketball Player of the Year made that extra pass in that moment.
“You know, they asked me about Traylor’s 21 points and 23 rebounds in the tournament, and I said, ‘What y’all really don’t know is one of his biggest plays of the year was one of his assists,’” Jones said. “He was probably more happy for Ray-Ray than he was for himself.”
Robinson was captain of the team. He’d been under head coach Casey Jones for four years, and he was tasked with defending the other team’s best player on a weekly basis. But over time, the team became Traylor’s. And you wouldn’t know it just by talking to him.
“The thing about it is, it was understood Rayson was the captain,” Jones said. “But at the same time, on the court, as the season went on even Rayson understood what Traylor brought to the table. We didn’t have that one standout superstar, and it just kind of evolved that way with him winning district MVP. It was obvious who we wanted to get the ball to late with the game on the line.”
Through district play, Traylor averaged 20.2 points per game and 9.1 rebounds per contest.
Jones expected Traylor to eventually become the go-to guy for the Wildcats in 2019. After watching Traylor in summer league and on the AAU circuit, Jones saw Traylor’s potential rise.
“Honestly, he has it in him to be (player of the year),” Jones said. “He’s a football guy, so when he gets here, we’re in game mode. He never really got the opportunity to put in the work. But he played all summer last year, and you got to really see what kind of player he could really be. I’m watching him, and with his strength, he can take smaller guys inside and with his face-up game, he could take big guys outside.”
Though Wossman’s run ended with a loss in the state championship against Madison Prep, Jones couldn’t help but think of the future, as only two seniors graduated from the 2018-19 Wildcat club. Traylor was not one of those two, as he’ll return as a senior next season. And high expectations won’t be anything new for Traylor. After all, he and his teammates have grown accustomed to having targets on their backs.
“That can be difficult, because teams look at us and our success and think, if they can beat us then they can put together a championship run of their own,” Traylor said. “But that’s why we work hard everyday.”