It took freshman J.T. Trauber less than a minute on the court to accomplish one of his basketball goals. In the Owls’ mid-December win over St. Thomas, the walk-on checked into the game for the first time and promptly sank a three-pointer on his first shot attempt.
Men's Basketball Tops Charlotte, 71-69
Rice University men's basketball jumped out to a first half lead and fended off a late run to knock off Charlotte for its first Conference USA win of the season, 71-69, on Saturday night at Tudor Fieldhouse.
A player’s first collegiate points always provide a memorable moment, but for the guard, those points took on a special meaning. With just one basket, he had already outscored his father, Steve, a reserve guard for the Owls in the early 1980s.
“My goal coming in, before I even set foot on campus, was to score more points than my dad. So getting into the game against St. Thomas and hitting my first three, that was really a special moment. I give him a hard time about it and I made sure his whole family knew that I already outscored him so they could give him a hard time too.”
That moment was a long time coming for the second-generation Owl whose formative years revolved around basketball, particularly the Rice program.
Trauber recalled his first memories of the Blue and Gray. “I started with Biddie Ball summer camp back when Willis Wilson was coach. The minimum age for the camps was five years old but I went when I was three. I remember they had us shooting on eight-foot baskets. Then every single summer since I was three, I came back to participate in the Rice basketball camps.”
“Growing up, I went to plenty of games and saw guys like Mike Wilks, Mike Harris, Morris Almond and another guy that I’m close to now – Lorenzo Williams. I saw them play and grow each season and noticed how much they were dedicated to the program. I also saw how much my family loved Rice basketball and how much they cheered for them and I just loved being around the program my whole life.”
By the time he finished elementary school, his mind was made up: J.T. knew he would follow in his father’s footsteps by attending Rice and playing basketball.
“I remember we filled out a questionnaire about where we wanted to go to college in fourth grade. Even way back then, Rice was first on my list. Ever since then, it was my dream to come play at Rice. I worked hard and I wanted to do that because my dad played here. I chose my jersey number, 24, in third grade because he wore it in college. I’ve worn it all throughout my AAU career and I wear 24 now.”
The Trauber family is well known in the Houston basketball community, as Steve began sponsoring a travel team filled with talented but underprivileged student-athletes while J.T. was growing up. The Trauber family gave its full support to the team, which has claimed a pair of national championships and sent several budding basketball stars to play collegiate basketball across the country.
One of the notable players to come through that program was Augustine Rubit, who starred at South Alabama and earned Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year honors after receiving support from the Trauber family as a teenager. The Traubers’ involvement served to motivate J.T. even further as he pursued his goals.
“It was really cool to see how much my parents cared for every individual that they either coached or ran into. Anyone that had a struggling background, they did their best to help them, especially Augustine. He was really a part of our family. To see his path and what he’s accomplished, how hard he worked, it’s not only great to see my family’s impact on him but his impact on us, especially on me. He showed that hard work can lead you to accomplish your goals.”
When the time came and J.T. finalized his decision to continue the family tradition and play basketball for the Owls, his parents were elated.
“They were excited, just ecstatic. It was definitely a dream come true for me and my dad was proud to see what I had accomplished and that I had reached my goals. It wasn’t just my dad, since my mom graduated from Rice, too.”
Though he has not seen much time on the court in game action, Trauber tirelessly works with the scout team to help his teammates prepare for the upcoming competition. And with those personal goals behind him, the rookie is focused on helping his team in any way that he can.
“I just want to keep improving as a player and do whatever I can in practice or on the bench to help the team improve. We’ve really improved a lot since the beginning of the season and I just want to see us continue to grind and win some games and hopefully we’ll see what we can do in the conference tournament.”
For more on Steve Trauber’s involvement in local basketball, read this recent Wall Street Journal profile.