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Michigan State’s Travis Trice speaks about last summer’s mystery brain infection

Oct 23, 2013, 1:10 PM EDT

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Travis Trice had a bit of a disappointing season as a sophomore, as he spent much of the year battling a pair of concussions that he suffered in games.

He averaged 4.9 points and 1.9 assists while shooting 40.3% from three in about 18 minutes per game, numbers that were essentially identical to what he averaged as a freshman.

Most casual observers chalked that lack of development up to the injuries and the concussions.

But, as it turns out, a major part of Trice struggles stemmed from a mystery illness that he dealt with over the summer, one that head coach Tom Izzo said had them afraid for his life.

Trice lost 25 pounds over the summer. At one point, he was sleeping 16 hours a day. He had blood test after blood test, MRIs and CAT scans, but doctors were never able to given him a diagnosis beyond a brain infection. From MLive.com:

By the time July came around, he was sleeping all day. He was losing a lot of weight, like 22 pounds between May to August. He went to the Michigan State trainers and let them know exactly how much he was sleeping. They put him in “shutdown mode” and sent him to have extensive tests done. Still, nothing conclusive was ever found.

“To be honest, they never really figured out what it was,” Trice said. “(The doctors) just filed it down to that it had to be something with the brain. After all the blood work and everything else, they couldn’t put nothing on it. They filed it down to that. But they never could put their thumb on what it was. It had to be (the brain).

“We almost had like a checklist when we started. Blood work after blood work and just ruling things out. To the point, even after having like CAT scans and MRIs, all that stuff, they figured it has to be a virus. We don’t know what, but that’s what it is. They ruled everything else out.”

Eventually, Trice was able to shake whatever virus he had caught, and while he put some of the weight back on and got himself back into shape, he was never truly able to get back into the rhythm. It didn’t help matters that his summer, the time when players are supposed to be getting better, was spent trying to get himself healthy.

Trice’s role will be important this season. He’s backing up Keith Appling at the point, and will be one of the Spartan’s best perimeter shooters.