Indiana men’s basketball lost a lot of prominent talent this past offseason, with the Hoosiers’ frontcourt suffering the most blows.
Trayce Jackson-Davis is off to the NBA, Race Thompson will likely pursue some form of professional career, Logan Duncomb is heading home to Xavier and Jordan Geronimo is seeking new opportunities at Maryland.
That’s Indiana’s starting frontcourt of the past two years, the roster’s only true center last year and the team’s go-to when Thompson or Jackson-Davis went to the bench. Indiana needed more as rising sophomore Malik Reneau looks to take over as a starter. Kel’el Ware, a former top-10 recruit, will look to lead Indiana’s frontcourt next season likely alongside Reneau.
Then there’s the bench pieces. We’ve covered Payton Sparks, an Indiana kid who transferred from Michael Lewis’ Ball State, but the Hoosiers also added a player from the same Miami team that ended their season in the tournament.
Anthony Walker doesn’t exactly jump off of a stat sheet. He peaked as a sophomore for the Hurricanes, averaging 9.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1 assist per game in 26.4 minutes. His averages have decreased in the years since as he’s assumed a reserve role.
As a former 3-star recruit, Walker was unlikely to emerge as a star even before Miami started adding talent. But he brings a few valuable things to the table such as athleticism, NCAA Tournament experience and a willingness to play a reserve role.
Here’s what he brings:
Indiana men’s basketball scouting reports
Miami beat Indiana in the tournament and advanced to the Final Four because the Hurricanes had what Indiana, and most of its competition in the Big Ten, lacked: athleticism and high-level 3-point shooting.
They weren’t bullying Indiana with their size for rebounds, they just had more dudes with length and athleticism to go after the ball. Indiana had trouble with teams before them like Kansas and Arizona in the nonconference or Penn State and Iowa in the conference.
Kansas and Arizona just had more talent. Penn State could shoot the lights out and Iowa had an offensive style and player in Kris Murray that could capitalize on the Hoosiers’ weaknesses.
Indiana decided it needed more talent and athletic guys, the kind that go far in the tournament, and picked up one of the ones who did.
As previously mentioned, Walker’s 2.8 points, 1.2 rebounds and 0.3 assists in 10.1 minutes per game as a senior don’t exactly jump off the page.
But he does bring legitimate scoring ability. Walker can drive past closeouts from the arc, has the footwork to get past defenders in the paint and can get up for a dunk or two should the opportunity present itself.
He also has enough speed to get behind the defense on a fastbreak and, while he only hit 12.5% from the arc, he’d probably have the green light to shoot given that Race Thompson was also taking those shots under Woodson.
Against Indiana specifically, Walker had a good shot negated by the extreme ability of Jackson-Davis on a block, then blew right past him for a dunk not too long afterward, even doing a “too small” gesture. That’s not an easy task.
Again, don’t expect him to put up a ton of points per game, but it stands to reason that there’d be more scoring opportunity against Big Ten defenders than those in the ACC.
Miami played at a pace that most Big Ten teams just can’t keep up with because the Hurricanes had the personnel to do so. Walker gives some of that to Indiana as the Hoosiers look to get more athletic in the Mike Woodson era.
When Indiana announced Walker’s transfer, Woodson notably lauded his defense:
”He is a veteran player who is very athletic and has great length,” Woodson said. “He’s very active on the defensive end and we love his competitiveness.”
Defense is a well-known priority at Indiana under Woodson, and Walker offers more length and athleticism on that end. More importantly, that’s a role he’s likely willing to play: a reserve forward who can hold down the fort on defense and get a few scoring opportunities here and there.
Take that as a replacement for Geronimo, also a high-level athlete who left for a larger role, and Indiana could have a valuable piece to deploy.