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Malik Reneau emerging as Indiana’s next great star in the frontcourt

Reneau has been on a roll to close out the nonconference.

Syndication: The Herald-Times Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times / USA TODAY NETWORK

Malik Reneau wasn’t committed to Indiana coming out of high school, far from it. He’d been signed to Florida to play for Mike White for months when news broke that the latter would be leaving Gainesville to take over at Georgia.

His Montverde Academy teammate, Jalen Hood-Schifino, had been signed to Indiana for months. All it took was one visit to Bloomington for Reneau to join him in Bloomington.

Indiana has had a fortuitous run of play from its frontcourt in recent years. Juwan Morgan became a stalwart and fan favorite before Trayce Jackson-Davis rocketed up the all-time records lists and left and All-American.

Reneau was there for the last bit, sitting and learning behind Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson. With both departing after his freshman year, it was always going to mean an opportunity for him to shine.

It’s one he’s taken and ran with.

There were flashes as a freshman of course. Fearlessly backing down Zach Edey against Purdue at home, momentum plays in relief here and there and great all-around effort on the boards.

But now Reneau, just a year removed from the bench, is looking like a bonafide star. He’s scored in the double figures in all but one game this season and his last two outings add up to 59 points.

He’s not just getting points in the post though, shooting 5-7 from deep in the past two games. The kind of shots Jackson-Davis never took and Thompson only even attempted under Mike Woodson.

When asked about Reneau’s team-leading 34 points against Kennesaw State, Woodson said there’s still room for him to grow as a player.

“He’s getting better,” Woodson said. “Everybody talks about development, who’s being developed, this and that. Malik, based on where he started with us last season and where he is today, he’s a lot better.”

Reneau is willing to put it on the line during games, scoring through contact in the paint and diving after loose balls. His strength and footwork in the post and willingness to pass out of it makes him dangerous when the ball is in his hands, not unlike Jackson-Davis before him.

And he’s only a sophomore.