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Countdown to Indiana Basketball Tip-Off: Hanner Mosquera-Perea

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The Hoosiers will need the athletic talent of the 2012 recruiting class to start paying dividends. Hanner Mosquera-Perea has looked improved: more confident and aggressive on the court in the preseason. How will this translate to the games that count?

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Hanner Mosquera-Perea was once a jewel of Hoosier recruiting efforts, but there were a number of factors that dampened any effect he might have had on last year's team. First and foremost, the successes of the returning players, notably Cody Zeller's upward trajectory and Victor Oladipo's redonkulous blast-off to #2 overall NBA draft pick (and the smart money bet for NBA Rookie of the Year). Second, classmate Yogi Ferrell came in every bit as good, if not better, than advertised with his excellent defense and passing, which helped overshadow any fair examination or discussion of the other freshmen. And finally, the amazingly bizarre 9-game suspension that HMP and Peter Jurkin got smacked with by the NCAA clearly inhibited early possibilities for on-court growth and integration with the rotation that was upperclassmen-dominated.

Even given this, let's not forget a few things when talking about Hanner. 1) He was a top 50 recruit, and considered one of the top ten players at his position coming out of high school. 2) Big men almost always take longer to develop than guards, especially the kind that are ranked highly for raw athleticism 3) I don't remember who said this in the comments last season, but last year's class cannot be judged without looking at the upperclassmen who had earned the lion's share of the minutes. In my preview of Mosquera-Perea last fall, I noted that there wouldn't be many minutes available and therefore his overall per-game statistics would likely not be impressive. And they weren't.

So, with this in mind, I looked at statsheet'.coms advanced player stats to see how Hanner fared in tempo-free terms. And the answer... not great, but not terrible. His offensive rating was indeed pretty terrible (86.4) which was clearly dragged down by a 38.4 effective field goal percentage (and I was hoping he'd be an improvement on Tom Pritchard there - yikes!). And the fouls he was whistled for made up his biggest single contribution to any piece of the overall statistical pie to the Hoosiers last season. However, he by far led the team in offensive rebounding percentage (15.7%, Cody Zeller clocked in at 12.2%) and had a reasonable defensive rebounding percentage to boot (13.8%). Hanner also nipped Cody for the lead in block percentage (4.4 to 4.3).

Again, last year I was expecting Mosquera-Perea to grow into a reasonable option off the bench, and position himself for a starting role in 2013-2014. Given his athletic talent, and the needs of this program, that's still a possibility. Especially when Big Ten play roles around, and the Hoosiers find capable bodies in the paint to be a premium commodity. However, at this early date, it seems likely that Hanner will be coming off the bench more than he will be starting. The opening exhibition game against Southern Indiana, he had about as good of a debut as could be asked for: in 15 minutes, HMP notched 9 points (5-5 on FTs), 5 rebounds, and a block and a steal, with no turnovers. Against Hillsdale, he was a bit less efficient with 4 points, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 turnovers in 12 minutes, but still an obviously useful player to bring off the bench.

Clearly, Hanner Mosquera-Perea will be a better player than he was last season, but how much better? That's a really good question. I mean, ultimately, he could be the second coming of DJ White, but I would be jaw-on-the-floor shocked if that happened this year. On the one hand, I think the ceiling for this year is probably as part-time starter that plays the role of finisher and defensive paint presence. On the other, I think 15 minutes/game is probably an appropriate amount of time for Hanner's development as a player, although I'd love for him to get some more time to show off that smooth jumper we saw against Hillsdale as well as the ability to cut to the rim. Regardless, I do expect him to challenge Noah Vonleh to be the team's top shot-blocker. That skill alone should keep him in the rotation. I don't expect that he will be able to average much more than 4-5ppg, but if he's still averaging north of 4 rebounds/game in rotational minutes come Big Ten play, that will be a really good sign for the interior depth of the Hoosiers. If you're keen to watch some part of his game to see when HMP is really ready to take off, see if he can significantly improve his defensive rebound percentage while also raising his block percentage. Big guys who can do both usually find themselves playing heavy minutes, and getting scouted for the pros.The Hoosiers will need the athletic talent of the 2012 recruiting class to start paying dividends. Hanner Mosquera-Perea has looked improved: more confident and aggressive on the court in the preseason. How will this translate to the games that count?