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Indiana basketball season in review: C.J. Gunn

A peek at the future

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

Now that Logan Duncomb has transferred to Xavier, CJ Gunn is the last remaining player from Archie Miller’s final recruiting class on Indiana’s roster. It’s easy to see how he would fit in Woodson’s system though, as a guard with length who can knock down shots and create for himself.

Given the talent and experience ahead of him, we didn’t get to see too much of Gunn this year. He appeared in just 20 games and averaged 7.5 minutes per game thanks to some early action in the non-conference schedule.

Plus, you’re not about to throw a guy like that into Big Ten play until he’s had a good year to adjust to the college game.

An interesting note about his development and playing time this year is the way he apparently started earning Woodson’s trust more as the season went on. For much of the Big Ten schedule, Gunn was only getting run in blowout games like Indiana’s win over Wisconsin or the loss to Penn State.

By the end of the season, Gunn was being trusted with brief assignments in tight, meaningful Big Ten games, like the four point win at Minnesota or the late season loss to Iowa.

With the departures of Tamar Bates, Jalen Hood-Schifino, and Miller Kopp, Gunn figures to see his role increase next year, whether he’s slotted as a true shooting guard alongside Xavier Johnson or as a wing next to Johnson and another guard. As things stand today, he’s the tallest guard on the roster at 6-5, making him an intriguing fit for small ball lineups.

Evaluating the stats for somebody who played so sparingly is always a dubious endeavor, but there are some stats worth pointing out. He finished seventh on the team in 3-point attempts, which is a good sign even though he wasn’t hitting them at the clip he would have hoped for.

He also hit 80% of his free throws, which indicates that his shooting will be fine once he settles in. Much more important is his willingness to take these shots and get to the basket.

Remember, Gunn shot 37.4% from deep as a senior at Lawrence North. It takes time to adjust to the college game and the staff has shown it can improve an individual players’ shooting as they did with Trey Galloway.

Once Xavier Johnson went down last year, Indiana struggled to find a tertiary scoring option besides Hood-Schifino and Trayce Jackson-Davis. It’s a rough estimate obviously, but projecting his stats out to 40 minutes per game, Gunn would have been Indiana’s third leading scorer last year, ahead of even Johnson’s 9.9 points per game.

When he was in, it was easy to see how he could develop into a quality player in the conference on both ends of the court. Scoring troubles aside, Woodson was able to bring him in for some high energy minutes, which combined with his height and athleticism, immediately put the pressure on opposing backcourts.

His best game of the year came against Elon, when he put up 11 points and 3 assists in 20 minutes of action. Significantly, he hit just one 3-pointer, getting the rest of his points on drives to the bucket or pull up jumpers.

Having another player who can create for himself and others while still being a deep threat is exactly what Indiana will need going forward, and there’s a lot to like about Gunn in that role if he can continue to develop in Bloomington. After what I saw this year, I would say his ceiling looks high moving forward.