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Indiana basketball player preview: C.J. Gunn

Sophomore leap inbound?

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 14 Wisconsin at Indiana Photo by Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

C.J. Gunn was an interesting case as a freshman.

He joined Indiana as a 247Sports composite three-star rated as the No. 178 player in the country and the 25th best shooting guard. He’d committed to the Hoosiers under former head coach Archie Miller, ultimately joining the program under Mike Woodson.

The two have something in common: both played high school basketball in Indianapolis. Gunn starred at Lawrence North, becoming the program’s all-time leader in points per game despite sharing an alma mater with the likes of Mike Conley and Greg Oden.

Gunn’s greatest strength coming out of high school was his shot-making ability. He was able to shoot off the dribble and off the catch at a high level.

If you paid any attention to Indy-area high school hoops, you were already well aware of C.J. Gunn.

After a freshman season spent largely on the bench, Gunn will look to take a leap in 2023-24 as a true contributor for the Hoosiers on both ends of the floor.

On the court

Gunn’s best game of the season came against Elon (No. 337 in KenPom) where he had season highs in almost every statistical category including minutes, points, rebounds and more.

Other than that he saw minimal, if any, minutes. Especially down the stretch. Gunn didn’t see the floor in the final five games of the season. There was previously a six-game stretch in Big Ten play where he saw no game action.

If Gunn played in February or March it was because Indiana was down late by an insurmountable margin, as happened against Michigan State on the road and Iowa at home. Of his 24 3-point attempts on the season, just two went in.

So, naturally, the offseason was one of growth for the rising sophomore.

At the program’s media day, Gunn said the message from the coaching staff during the offseason was to avoid rushing things and be patient overall. He attributes his play and shooting numbers to rushing himself ahead of schedule.

“Be more comfortable,” Gunn said. “Stay more poised and patient, taking the right shots and being more comfortable with the ball in my hands.”

Gunn has been working on handling the ball and bringing it up the floor as a combo guard, he said earlier in the offseason. That, and shooting with confidence/consistency, have been among his primary areas of focus.

A three was among his highlights from the program’s Pro Day:

Gunn gets some serious altitude on his jumpshot, but that’s not all. He has the athleticism and leaping ability to dunk with authority.

One bright spot from his freshman campaign was intensity on defense. Gunn played with a high motor every time he took the floor as a freshman and his size at 6’6” gave him an advantage on that end of the court.

He has the size to play the two under Trey Galloway or the three alongside guys like Kaleb Banks and potentially Mackenzie Mgbako.

One way or another, Gunn could be primed for a leap as a sophomore.