It’ll be seven months before new Indiana men’s basketball coach Mike Woodson has an opportunity to win his first game at the college level.
But a week and a half into his tenure, Woodson is already winning the offseason.
Woodson scored another victory on Thursday morning with word that veteran forward Race Thompson will return to IU next season. Thompson, a team captain as a redshirt junior last year, built upon a solid sophomore season by averaging 9.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per game for the Hoosiers. With an offensive rating of 108.8, per KenPom.com, Thompson was IU’s most efficient scorer and one of merely three players in the program with an offensive rating above the national average adjusted efficiency rating of 102.0. Perhaps most importantly, Thompson gives the Hoosiers a hardened player who is willing to bump and battle underneath and play the grinding style for which the Big Ten is known.
Thompson entered the NCAA Transfer Portal on March 24 and reportedly fielded significant interest from Minnesota, his home state school.
“After talking it over with my family I’m happy to announce I’m coming back to Indiana,” Thompson said in a message posted to his Instagram account. “I’m excited for Coach Woodson and the future of the program. Go Hoosiers!”
With Thompson’s mind made up, IU has secured recommitments from four of the six Hoosiers — Thompson, Khristian Lander, Jordan Geronimo and Parker Stewart — who entered the portal after former coach Archie Miller’s ouster last month. Al Durham announced last week he is heading to Providence as a grad transfer, while Armaan Franklin has yet to make a decision. On Wednesday, IU added another contributor to its backcourt, landing a transfer commitment from former Pitt guard Xavier Johnson.
The roster developments, coupled with this week’s hiring of former Michigan State assistant Dane Fife and the retention of assistant Kenya Hunter, have made for several days of uplifting news bulletins for Woodson and the program.
Thompson’s decision is the latest source of hope — and at this rate, it may not be the last.