This is the beginning of a series in which we will highlight up-and-coming talent from around the IU athletics world, extending past but not excluding the sports we typically cover.
Grace Berger has been in the spotlight for her entire basketball career. She was a first team all-state member as a junior and senior, as well as a member of the second team her sophomore year in Louisville. After averaging 15.2 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, earning a top 50 ranking in ESPN’s recruiting rankings and committing to play for Indiana as just the program’s second five-star recruit ever all in her senior season, Berger became a role player as a freshman in Bloomington playing behind the team’s leading scorer Ali Patberg.
The numbers may not jump off the page for Berger, but her presence and importance on the court go beyond the box score. In her debut season, she displayed a polished ability to handle the ball, crash the glass as the leading rebounder off the bench, and keep the offense flowing as she finished third on the team in assists—all three valuable traits for a fast-paced offense like Teri Moren’s. When Patberg’s career comes to an end after this upcoming season, it will likely be Berger handling a lot of the point guard duties. On paper, she seems to fit the formula for a Moren point guard: highly rated recruit, good ball-handling skills, and an ability to move the ball with pace.
But basketball isn’t played on paper, it’s played on a court. On the court, Berger has a different style than Moren point guards of the past and present. With that, she has an ability to make a unique mark on a program quickly rising.
The term “floor general” perhaps fits a Hoosier player in the Moren era no better than Berger, the future quarterback of a team that is set up to be littered with talent for years to come. Here’s an example of her ability to see the court and make a decision on the fly, two traits that aren’t commonly seen in freshman guards.
Nearly everything that Berger does well is illustrated in this impressive transition play. She saw immediately that Indiana was going to have numbers on its side, knew that she was the best immediate scoring option once she reached the three-point line, made a good move on her defender and scored.
With the top four scorers all returning for Indiana, Berger’s ability to score this season will be less important than her ability to keep the offense moving at a pace and letting the scoring weapons—two of whom Indiana will be without after the season ends—do what they do best.
She already has an impressively mature skillset for a point guard entering her sophomore season and her entire sophomore season to polish her ability to score. She may not be quite the natural scorer Patberg is and Tyra Buss was, but the most important trait a Teri Moren point guard can have is to be an extension of Moren on the floor. A floor general. Grace Berger is exactly that, and Indiana fans should get used to hearing her name.