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Indiana men’s basketball is Malik Reneau’s team

On an emerging reality.

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Indiana Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

One of the more readily apparent elements of this Indiana team has been the lack of leadership, on and off the court, to fill that massive void left by Trayce Jackson-Davis.

That answer has presented itself over time though, and it’s sophomore Malik Reneau.

He’s not one of Indiana’s captains, lacking the experience to be given such a title, but that hasn’t stopped him from being a leader. When Indiana finds itself out of position or sync on the floor, it’s Reneau gathering the Hoosiers together in the huddle to figure it out.

When Indiana needs a bucket the ball is going to him. There’s nobody on the roster you’d prefer with the ball in their hands if you need two points.

He uses up 27.4% of Indiana’s possessions when he’s on the floor with an effective field goal percentage of 60.2 and the second highest assist rate on the team. rate on the t

The program, media and fanbase expected him to take a leap this season after spending time behind Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson as a freshman. That mostly entailed more touches and cutting down on the foul trouble.

But he’s even better.

He reflected a bit after scoring a career-high 34 points against Kennesaw State and heading to the bench with a standing ovation from Assembly Hall. Learning from those two meant a lot, but...

“Now, it’s my time to go.”

Reneau worked on his frame during the offseason and entered the year noticeably larger than he was as a freshman. All that muscle helps him get position on the block where his pristine footwork generates a great look at the rim.

All that ability draws double teams, a compliment to just how good Reneau has become. He can score through them or, better yet, find the open man. He’s progressed as a passer out of the post. That passing ability was a highlight during Indiana’s pro day before the season.

He credits much of his advancement and understanding the role of being the No. 1 option to working with Calbert Cheaney, program legend turned director of player development.

Off the court, Reneau said ahead of the season that he wants to be a guy that newer players look to for help. He’s been that, actively helping newcomers know their spots on defense and seeking out teammates for helpful words during timeouts.

And he’s just a sophomore. He’s going to keep getting better.

There’s still so much room for him to grow and improve, especially heading into his junior season when he’ll no doubt be a focal point of Indiana’s offense.