The Indiana Hoosiers are expecting a bit of a rebuilding year this coming season, but USA Today and others are looking at it more as a reloading year. Indiana is bringing in a top 5 recruiting class and most of those 6 guys should be getting a large chunk of minutes behind the seasoned veterans of Yogi Ferrell, Will Sheehey, Jeremy Hollowell and Hanner Perea. If we're lucky, even Austin Etherington's knee will be back in proper condition and we can see some contributions from him as well. The Hoosiers still have plenty of experience returning despite the loss of four starters from last year's squad. Lump 5th year senior Evan Gordon into the mix and you're looking at at least 5 sophomores or older players finding their way into the rotation.
USA Today apparently sees the talent joining up with the new leadership and has put Indiana at #23 in its pre-season top 25 a few days before practice starts. That top 25 is led by who else but Kentucky and followed by Michigan State, Louisville, Duke and Kansas to round out the top 5. Other Big Ten teams getting some love in this early poll are Michigan (8), Ohio State (12), and Iowa (24).
Indiana at #23 sounds right to me to start the season. Yes, the Hoosiers are bringing back several players to go with the super talented freshmen, but only two of those guys received a large chunk of experience before this year. There is definitely uncertainty with this team. They have the talent to be a back half of the top 10 team, but we don't know how well they're going to mesh. The same could have been said for Kentucky last year and we saw how that worked out. So until we can get a look at the team together on the court, I'm OK with #23.
The magazine also released their pre-season All-American list to go with the top 25. No, Hoosiers made the first, second or third team, but Yogi Ferrell is among the honorable mentions. First team AA's to start the year are Doug McDermott, Marcus Smart, Mitch McGary, Andrew Wiggins and Julius Randle. Second team includes Aaron Gordon, Willie Cauley-Stein, Aaron Craft, Gary Harris and Montrezl Harrell. Other Big Ten players that were among the honorable mentions were Adreian Payne and Glenn Robinson III. So, despite the Big Ten being down from last year, there are still many high caliber players that can cause problems.
If Yogi can find his way onto one of those first two teams, look for IU to be making quite a bit of noise down the stretch and potentially contending for a second conference title in two years. If Will Sheehey can also find his way somewhere onto the list, whether it be on one of the teams or an honorable mention then we're talking a season that will probably be just as exciting as last year, but more gratifying due to the lower expectations. Either way, it should be a good one. Get fired up everyone, practice starts in less than a 4 days.