When Indiana men’s basketball’s 2023-24 season tips off next fall, it’ll in all likelihood do so with only two players who signed under former head coach Archie Miller in Trey Galloway and Anthony Leal.
Indiana lost a ton of production from last year’s team, obviously, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It serves as room to grow and deliver on Mike Woodson’s vision for the future to the program.
Let’s take a look at what Indiana lost and what it’s added so far.
- C Logan Duncomb (Transfer -> Xavier)
- F Trayce Jackson-Davis (NBA Draft/Graduation)
- F Race Thompson (Professional/Graduation)
- F Miller Kopp (Professional/Graduation)
- F Jordan Geronimo (Transfer -> Maryland)
- G Jalen Hood-Schifino (NBA Draft)
- G Tamar Bates (Transfer -> Mizzou)
That’s, uh, quite a bit but not a sign of worry as much as it is the reality of college basketball these days. Players who are capable move on while others seek opportunity through the transfer portal.
The first two years of Mike Woodson’s coaching tenure in Bloomington featured a starting frontcourt of former Miller recruits in Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson. Even the main reserve, Jordan Geronimo, was a Miller guy.
This was an obvious thing. Jackson-Davis was one of the best players in the country, Woodson wasn’t gonna run him off to install his own system with his own guys. Instead, he built around the All-American and ran through him, breaking the Hoosiers’ NCAA Tournament drought in the process.
It was the first time in Woodson’s coaching career, which had been spent entirely in the NBA, that he ran his offense through a post player and it was by necessity given both Jackson-Davis’ pure ability and the nature of the Big Ten.
But now those players have moved on. Their contributions to bringing Indiana back into the national conversation cannot be forgotten, but the Hoosiers are going to have to move forward without them to build upon that foundation.
There’s guys like Duncomb, Bates and Geronimo who elected to transfer. Duncomb was out nearly all year with a sinus issue that eventually required surgery, Bates went through a slump and is seeking further opportunity while Geronimo likely didn’t want his role at Indiana as much as he’d like one elsewhere.
Without them, Woodson has plenty of opportunities to shape the roster as he sees fit. We’ll finally be able to see his vision for the future of Indiana realized. Don’t get me wrong, the past two years have been full of glimpses, but year three is going to be a new level.
Also... portal entries open up space in future recruiting classes. Indiana is in on a ton of talent in ‘24 and ‘25 and they’ll have plenty of space for whatever happens.
That’s what Indiana is losing, but there’s gain to be found in loss. Let’s go through that.
- C Kel’el Ware
- F Payton Sparks
- F Anthony Walker
- G Gabe Cupps (Four-Star)
- G Jakai Newton (Four-Star)
- F/W Mackenzie Mgbako (Five-Star)
Alright it’s worth noting that Indiana has a roster spot left and will likely target a shooting guard to fill it. Aside from that, things are pretty set and the moves the staff has made are revealing.
The additions, from transfers like Ware and Walker to freshmen like Newton and Mgbako say a lot. That’s a ton of high-end talent with athleticism that hasn’t been this prevalent in Bloomington for years if at all.
Ware is the ideal modern big man with his ability to score all over the court and make plays on defense. Walker brings probably the most athleticism of any reserve forward in the Big Ten. Newton is likely a longer-term development guy and Mgbako should be an immediate starter with his smooth shooting ability at the wing.
Mgbako is arguably the biggest get here. Indiana secured a signature from the Duke decommit over Kansas. He’s the second highest-rated recruit in program history after Romeo Langford. That type of player doesn’t come around super often.
He’s also the exact kind of player Indiana had trouble with last season. The Hoosiers’ kryptonite was versatile teams like Penn State and Iowa in the Big Ten and eventually Miami in the tournament. They just lacked an answer for players like Kris Murray, Penn State’s style of play and Miami’s entire roster. Even Jamison Battle at Minnesota gave Indiana some headaches.
Now Indiana has a versatile scoring wing of its own, which is more than most of the Big Ten can say, especially now that the Murray twins have moved onto the NBA.
When we said Jalen Hood-Schifino’s long-term impact on the Hoosiers would be important, we meant it. Indiana could see even more of that high-end talent in Bloomington if things pan out (emphasis on if).
Indiana, on paper, looks significantly more athletic and versatile than most of the rest of the conference. That’s not necessarily the kind of team built to win the Big Ten, but it is the kind built to win games in the NCAA Tournament. There’s going to have to be some balance between winning conference games and winning in March not unlike what Tom Izzo is doing every year. I think that’s in the cards.
An additional floor-spacer to create room for Ware, Malik Reneau and the other forwards while taking some shooting pressure off of Mgbako would be fantastic. It’d help if that came with some ability to handle the ball, which the Hoosiers lacked down the stretch last year.