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C.J. Gunn’s development could be key for Indiana men’s basketball in 2023-24

Mike Woodson will be looking for someone to fill the Hoosiers’ 3-point shooting void.

Little Rock v Indiana Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

If you pay any attention at all to Indiana men’s basketball, you’d know that 3-point shooting has been front of mind for the fanbase since roughly 2017 for multiple reasons.

The Hoosiers didn’t shoot well as a team and lacked a go-to guy under former head coach Archie Miller. Under Mike Woodson, Indiana improved as a shooting team and found a go-to in Miller Kopp.

Now Kopp, Indiana’s leader in 3-point attempts this past season, is gone. Jalen Hood-Schifino and Tamar Bates, the second and third place guys on that list, are also gone. Trey Galloway shot 46.2% on the year, ableit on limited attempts. He’s not gonna be that go-to guy.

Like last year, I’d expect Woodson and staff to seek more shooting from new and developing pieces on the roster. Kel’el Ware brings shooting at center and Mackenzie Mgbako can make tough shots.

Then there’s in-state sophomore C.J. Gunn.

Gunn starred at Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis, where he knocked down 37.4% of his attempts from the arc as a senior. Nobody in Wildcats’ history, whose alumni include Mike Conley and Greg Oden, averaged more points per game than Gunn.

He was never asked to do too much as a freshman and never made more than a single 3-pointer in a game in extremely limited minutes. He made just two of his 24 attempts on the year.

He brings some size at the guard spot with a 6-6 frame and athleticism, with his most notable plays as a freshman being thunderous dunks rather than shooting. What he brought was an intensity on defense that’ll be key to earning minutes for Woodson.

Now, heading into his sophomore year, Gunn will look to be a bigger piece on both ends of the floor. He addressed the media last week on the topic.

Interestingly, Gunn said he’s been working on bringing the ball up the floor to be more of a combo guard. This would be more than welcome given how thin Indiana became in the backcourt last year, lacking a reliable third option behind Trey Galloway.

He’ll have some help in doing so from the staff. Assistant coach Brian Walsh and recruiting coordinator Jordan Hulls were able to help Galloway take his strides as a shooter. On top of that, Indiana hired program legend Calbert Cheaney as Director of Player Development this offseason.

The two, who were already familiar with one another (it’s basketball in indiana, duh), have already begun working together, with Gunn mentioning working on midrange shots.

Should Gunn take additional steps on offense while maintaining defensive intensity, he could become a key bench guard as a sophomore.