2021 Indiana Preview

Key Departures: Aarman Franklin (–>Virginia); Jerome Hunter (–>Xavier); Al Durham (Grad)

New In Town: Miller Kopp (<–Northwestern); Xavier Johnson (<–Pitt); Michael Durr (<–USF); Tamar Bates (#30); Logan Duncomb (#71)

State of the Program:

                  New HC Mike Woodson comes home to his alma mater for the 2021-22 season with the program ready to turn the page on a 4 year run of mediocrity under Archie Miller that saw them go 33-44 in Conference play, capped off by losing the last 6 games of 2021. They haven’t been to the big dance since 2015-16, the longest drought since 1972 when Bob Knight took over the program. The decision to move on from Miller was unanimous, but the hire of Woodson was briefly criticized locally. Over the long term I this being a great decision as they bring in a former Knight player who is from Indiana and cares deeply for the program. Add in the fact he has deep NBA ties, he provides a great recruiting edge and a fresh style to juxtapose what the fan base has had to suffer through for so long.  And despite all of that suffering, Woodson still takes over a program with a roster loaded with talent, including multiple 5 star recruits and All-Conference C Trayce JacksonDavis (JR). TJD will anchor a veteran group that also features Race Thompson (SR), Rob Phinisee (SR), Trey Galloway (SO), and Khristian Lander (SO). Lander will garner the most attention outside of TJD, as he was a bit of a disappointment in year 1 after coming in as 5-star recruit and never really finding his footing. If he can tap into his potential as a scorer this returning group will pack a lot of punch, and they’ll be buoyed by a very talented incoming group.

What’s New:

                  Leading that group is Northwestern transfer 6’7 F Miller Kopp (SR). Kopp comes in as a 36% 3-point shooter who can immediately contribute at the 3 or as a stretch 4. His shooting ability will be huge for the Hoosiers who lost their 2 best perimeter shooters from a year ago. Xavier Johnson (SR) comes to Bloomington from Pitt and will look to battle Phinisee and Lander for minutes in the backcourt. He was the main PG for Pitt for 3 seasons, averaging nearly 14 ppg and 5 assists. He is very good attacking downhill and finishing through contact, and could provide a scoring spark for the Hoosiers. Former USF 7-footer Michael Durr (SR) will come in looking to backup TJD inside and provides IU with depth at the 5. He’s not an explosive athlete but uses his big frame to swallow up boards and block shots, and he should have an important role at the 5 especially when facing the likes of Kofi Cockburn, Trevion Williams, and Hunter Dickinson in Conference play. SG Tamar Bates (#30) headlines the Freshman duo coming in as a southpaw that can score at all 3 levels. His pretty stroke from the left side combined with his quick first step make him a dangerous threat on offense. His athleticism paired with a long wiry frame sets him up to be a disruptive defender as well, and he should compete for minutes and even vie for the starting 3 spot in year 1. The last member of the group is 6’9” C Logan Duncomb (#71). He profiles as a traditional back to the basket big, a bit undersized but has a craftiness in his game that should help him develop into a very productive 4 year guy. He will likely find himself buried behind TJD, Durr, and Thompson inside this year however. Also worth mentioning is the return of 6’5” SG Parker Stewart who sat out last season after averaging 19 ppg for UT-Martin. He will compete with the loaded backcourt for playing time.

Prediction:

                  This group for Woodson has a lot of talent, but him having zero past college coaching to look back on make predicting how this year goes very difficult. On paper, you’d think he’d open the gates and let the horses run, as he has a lot of athleticism at all positions, with their one glaring weakness being perimeter shooting. Jackson-Davis gives them a go-to option offensively, and Phinisee and Race Thompson provide experience and toughness on D. What you hope to get from the group of Lander, Johnson, Bates, and Stewart is some playmaking, both in the half-court and in transition. All 4 are good at attacking the basket, and they will need that punch to take some of the burden off of TJD. Those 4, Phinisee and Kopp should share the load at the 1-3 spots. That will be a big competition to watch, but I’d expect Phinisee and Lander to start, alongside Kopp/Thompson/TJD up front. I think Johnson and Bates serve as the primary backups, but Stewart is rumored to be impressing as well so I could see Kopp sliding to the 4 to give these guys more shots at minutes. All-in-all I think this group has enough talent to be a tournament team, we’ll just see how Woodson attacks the college game and what kind of culture he is able to implement. Retaining all these guys is a good first sign, so I plan on seeing the Hoosiers in the big dance again this season, for the first time in 6 years.

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