Tom Pritchard – Senior
Lakewood St. Edward – Westlake, Ohio
6’9" 245 pounds
Tom Pritchard may be one of the most important players for this upcoming season. If he can round in shape similar to what other senior big men have done in the Big Ten then this year has the potential to be better than expected. In Pritchard senior year, he will be looking to compete with freshman Cody Zeller for minutes in the post. Depending on whom you ask there is definite potential for him to be a starter for this upcoming Hoosier squad.
Tom Pritchard was the first major commit to stick to the new coach Tom Crean in the change of regimes. Coming out of high school he was one of the top players in all of Ohio. His high school team in his senior year peaked as high as 10th in the country. He was recruited out of high school by some big-name schools namely Texas, but in the end he chose to stick with the Indiana Hoosiers. You have to give it Tom Pritchard because coming into this he knew it was going to be quite a rebuilding effort and his effort has never flagged even when the team has failed to be productive.
As a freshman Pritchard was the go to guy on a very depleted Hoosiers squad. His 2008 season saw him play all 31 games and averaged 29 min. a game. He averaged 6.4 rebounds a game and nearly 10 points. He was easily the number one target on that Hoosier squad that finished the season with only three wins. During that span he was also the first freshman in IU history to have back-to-back double-doubles. His sophomore campaign was slightly disappointing. His rebounding average and his points average were cut in half even though he still played 31 games but admittedly in nine less minutes a game.
As a whole Tom Pritchard's career here at Indiana has been pretty decent. I would venture to say that he is by far our best defensive player even if he picks up a lot of fouls. Unfortunately for most of his career is been forced to be the only big guy down low. So he's had to wrangle two or three big guys with little to no help in many games. Hence the foul trouble. He just struggles to get over to fill multiple roles for this team. Therefore he is likely to benefit the most from the arrival of top-rated freshman Cody Zeller. Because of Zeller, my expectations for Pritchard are much higher than what is given us in the past.
I expect the numbers for Pritchard to be closer to his freshman year than his sophomore and junior. Cody Zeller gives him help in the post so he won't be forced to be the big guy down there. Instead you will be the help defender which should help him stay out of foul trouble. I would expect a Josh Harrelson type of season out of him this year as a senior. If Pritchard can average eight points a game, and somewhere in the neighborhood of six rebounds then he has the chance to be a major contributor to the squad. And that kind of production with a decent production with Cody Zeller and this could be the first time in several seasons that Indiana has had a post presence on offense or defense. Expect this year for Tom Pritchard to make the jump from everybody's punching bag to the unsung hero of this 2011-2012 season. Add in a thunder dunk or two and he has the potential to be a big plus in a position that the Hoosiers desperately need.