I shouldn't do this.
I shouldn't start thinking about what an Indiana team with Thon Maker & Thomas Bryant would look like. It's too soon. It's a pipe dream. It probably won't happen. There's no way, right?
Or is there? Bryant could make his decision at any moment, possibly at the Dick's National High School Invitation where he'll take the court later today. Syracuse's sanctions have left the Orange with much uncertainty around the program, Kentucky hasn't contacted Bryant since January, and the only other contender is Kim Anderson's Missouri program that's coming off a 9-23 season. Nearly every 247 Sports Crystal Ball decision that's been made on Bryant since March 1 has him coming to Bloomington, including Jerry Meyer himself. He's been in contact with Yogi Ferrell, Rob Johnson, Troy Williams, and James Blackmon. It's reasonable to think he might be holding out to see what plays out with the Wildcats this weekend in Indianapolis, but it's also very possible that Bryant chooses the Hoosiers before the weekend's out in New York.
But Thon Maker? Are you on drugs?
Yes, there's a certain faction that firmly believes the Canadian phenom will head overseas to play professionally before he heads to the NBA the following year. Maker himself has dismissed talk of that, and the back-channel voices don't seem as strong as they did a few months ago that the lanky 7-footer will head to China much like Emmanuel Mudiay. Indiana seemingly has all the momentum in his recruitment, and it's well-established that there's some link between Maker and Adidas. You'd be foolish to downplay the role of shoe companies in the recruitment of high school basketball players in 2015, and if Maker desires an Adidas shoe deal long term -- it's reasonable to think that this would push him toward Indiana or Kansas over Kentucky & Duke. The Hoosiers and Wildcats have seemingly been the two frontrunners for some time, and when you combine the momentum & shoe interest, the Hoosiers are probably the clubhouse leader for Maker's services right now.
I'm sorry. This probably ends in heartbreak, I know.
But we're already this far in, so let's get crazy for a moment here. What would that lineup look like?
What would Indiana's depth chart & rotations look like with Bryant and Maker in the fold for the 2015-16 season? Let's assume that if Maker & Bryant both come to Bloomington, Troy Williams and Yogi Ferrell return, as well. (I'd be shocked if that didn't happen if either Bryant/Maker commit.)
|PG||Yogi Ferrell||Rob Johnson|
|SG||James Blackmon||Nick Zeisloft|
|SF||Troy Williams||Collin Hartman||OG Anunoby|
|PF||Thon Maker||Emmitt Holt||Devin Davis|
|C||Thomas Bryant||Hanner Perea||Juwan Morgan|
Ok, probably not. But still. That's a team that could conceivably play a TWELVE MAN ROTATION next season. That's depth that the preseason-number-1 2012-13 team didn't come close to matching. In addition, this lineup would let each player slide back over into more of a natural position. Troy Williams & Collin Hartman can fit more into that "swingman" role, rather than attempting to morph into Division III big man. This roster, on paper, should strike some fear in the hearts of coaches across the Big Ten. With Bryant & Maker's ability to run the floor, they'll play a fast, up-tempo, run-and-gun style. Combine that with four of the nations' best long-range shooters in Ferrell, Blackmon, Zeisloft, and Hartman -- and you've got the makings of one of the most fun-to-watch teams in the last 15 years of college basketball.
But how would this team fit in with the rest of the Big Ten?
Both Final Four teams should face some major roster turnover. Frank Kaminsky, Josh Gasser, and Traevon Jackson are all gone from Wisconsin, and Sam Dekker will likely join them, as could Nigel Hayes. Michigan State will lose arguably its best two players and leaders in Travis Trice and Branden Dawson. D'Angelo Russell will be gone from an Ohio State team he carried alone for at points this season. The Hoosiers' biggest competition for the preseason favorite would likely be Maryland -- where Melo Trimble has already pledged to return. Pair him with Jake Layman (decision TBA) and now-committed 5-star Center DIamond Stone, and the Terps could also have a top-5, top-10 quality team as well.
It might be time for the Hoosiers to start thinking big for 2015-16.
I'm sorry. I'm sorry for doing this.
You can watch Thomas Bryant in the National High School Invitational at 2PM today on ESPNU and Watch ESPN right here.