While not to the degree of last season's team, this year's team will rely heavily on newcomers of all sorts, including from the highly regarded freshman class.
Jeremiah Rivers, 6-5 junior guard (Winter Park, Fla./Georgetown). Rivers, who has never played a minute in an Indiana uniform, instantly becomes one of the Hoosiers' most experienced players. In two years at Georgetown, Rivers, who is the son of former NBA great and current Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, averaged 15 minutes per game. Perhaps more importantly, Rivers played on two excellent teams at Georgetown: the 2006-07 team won the Big East Tournament and advanced to the Final Four, where the Hoyas lost in the semifinal to Ohio State, and the 2007-08 team finished 28-6. Rivers was regarded as a defensive role player at Georgetown, and to say that he wasn't a scoring threat would be an understatement. Rivers never broke into double figures in scoring in a single game, and is a 35 percent field goal shooter. That's overall, not from three point range. He shot 26.6 percent from behind the arc and 49.9 percent from the line. Rumor has it that Rivers has improved his shot,, but he will have to improve it a lot to have any success as an offensive player. Rivers was dead-even for his Georgetown career with approximately 1 assist and 1 turnover per game. Of course, when Rivers was at Georgetown, Tom Crean was the coach at Marquette. Crean must have seen something he liked. Some projections have Rivers as the starting point guard for the Hoosiers this season, but we will know more after Wednesday.
Christian Watford, 6-9 freshman forward (Birmingham, Ala.). Watford continues IU's Alabama connection. The forward was ranked #41 by Rivals in his recruiting class and averaged 25 points and 13 rebounds as a senior. If recruiting videos are any indication, Watford is more versatile than most players his size and can play on the perimeter, handle the ball a bit, and so on. He will have ample opportunity to play as a freshman, of course.
Maurice Creek, 6-5 freshman guard (Oxon Hill, Md.): Creek was ranked #56 in the final Rivals ratings for his class. He averaged 18 points per game at Hargrave Military Academy and over 20 per game while at his public high school. While IU does return some significant experience at guard, Creek seems likely to break into the rotation. His eligiblity was in doubt for some time but was confirmed shortly after school began.
Bobby Capobianco, 6-9 freshman forward (Loveland, Ohio): Depending on the recruiting service, Capobianco is a borderline top 100 recruit who averaged a double-double for his last three years of high school. Certainly, given the lack of returning backcourt depth documented in my last post, Capobianco seems likely to play quite a bit.
Derek Elston, 6-9 freshman forward (Tipton, Ind.): Elston is similar to Capobianco in size and ranking (#103 according to Rivals). He was an Indiana All-Star and averaged 19.7ppg/10.8 rpg as a senior on an excellent Tipton team. Elston committed to IU early in his junior year, before Kelvin Sampson was fired, which I suppose makes him the last Sampson recruit, for good or for ill.
Jordan Hulls, 6-0 freshman guard (Bloomington South). Hulls, Indiana's 2009 Mr. Basketball, is the sixth Mr. Basketball to enroll in IU in the last 13 years. He seems likely to be the second of those six to finish his eligibility at IU (Luke Recker transferred, Jared Jeffries and Eric Gordon left for the NBA, and AJ Ratliff left the team late in his senior year). Hulls led Bloomington South to the 4A state championship. Like Elston and Capobianco, Hulls is ranked around #100, depending on the service. Hulls averaged 15.6 points, 5 assists, and 2.6 steals for the undefeated Panthers, and like all freshmen, is likely to play.
Bawa Muniru, 6-11 freshman center (Ghana). Muniru is practicing with the team but has not yet been ruled eligible. He averaged 16.6 points as a high school senior in (where else?) Alabama before heading to prep school. It's not clear how developed Muniru is, but he may be able to find some playing time given the state of the frontcourt.
Well, there they are, the 2009-10 newcomers. We will know a little more after tonight's game against Grace College.