2010-2011 Player Profile: Derek Elston

  • 10/13/2010 1:04 pm in

NEW YORK - DECEMBER 08:  Derek Elston #32 of the Indiana Hoosiers shoots over Dwight Miller #25 of the Pitt Panthers during the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden on December 8, 2009 in New York, New York.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)It’s time for Inside the Hall’s player-by-player breakdown of the 2010-2011 Indiana Hoosiers. Today: Derek Elston.

It’s difficult to pinpoint, precisely, the reason for the inconsistency of Derek Elston’s playing time as a freshman.

Perhaps it was the mental lapses he suffered regularly, as most freshman do, on defense. Or maybe it was something we didn’t see behind the closed doors of practice in Assembly Hall.

Whatever the case for the sporadic minutes, Elston was arguably Indiana’s best player down the stretch as he delivered 40 points and 24 rebounds in the team’s final three games. (The efficiency numbers don’t lie, either.)

Those late-season performances, coupled with his versatility at 6-foot-9 to play multiple positions, make Elston the prime candidate to take the biggest step forward of any Hoosier as a sophomore.

That aforementioned versatility affords Tom Crean the flexibility to run with a variety of lineups, depending on the situation.

If Crean elects to go small with three guards and Christian Watford, Elston could find himself, for stretches, guarding an opponent’s five. Sure, it’s not ideal, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned from watching Crean coach for two seasons, it’s that he’s not one for always trotting out a traditional lineup. (Tijan at the top of the 1-3-1, anyone?)

On the other hand, it’s not inconceivable that Elston will also log his fair share of minutes at the three if the matchups align correctly and Elston proves capable of staying in front of opponents on the perimeter.

Hypothetical scenarios aside, the optimism for a large step forward for Elston stems primarily from the eye test that he passed with flying colors when he was on the floor as a freshman. He mixed it up in the paint. He knocked down 3-pointers. He showed, at times, a solid midrange game. He displayed a solid handle for a kid of his stature. He battled, admirably, on the glass. And in all, he was Indiana’s most efficient player from a statistical standpoint.

Bottom line: Elston might not start or finish the season in IU’s starting five, but his play will earn him considerably more minutes than he saw as a freshman. Given how well he played at times last season when given the opportunity and how desperately Crean is seeking grit, intelligence and toughness, look for Elston to emerge and accomplish big things as a sophomore.

Quotable: “In the Big Ten in early practices, I didn’t even feel involved. But I finally put my foot down and said I’ve got to start doing something, and like you said, my minutes went up, and then I got some confidence back, and then I started to roll with it.” — Derek Elston.

Previous Player Profiles: Jordan Hulls, Guy-Marc Michel

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  • IU2012

    If Elston has a semblance of defense this year, he deserves to get major minutes. I watched every game last year, and he was probably in the bottom 5 of ALL defenders in the league. If he would just move his feet, he could be great.

  • So_Cal_Hoosier

    Can’t wait to watch DE play this year. I think that he he flies a little under the radar compared to some of the other players on our team. And with the flashes of greatness he showed last year, combined with the fact that you never hear anything other than Elston is a beast in the weight room and works his butt off during off season workouts, I’m hoping to see some good things this year.

  • So_Cal_Hoosier

    Can’t wait to watch DE play this year. I think that he he flies a little under the radar compared to some of the other players on our team. And with the flashes of greatness he showed last year, combined with the fact that you never hear anything other than Elston is a beast in the weight room and works his butt off during off season workouts, I’m hoping to see some good things this year.

  • ArtistFormerlyKnownAs_Aceman07

    I’ve seen DE a couple of times in the off season and the boy is flat freaking huge! I expect big things out of Derek and would be surprised if he isn’t in the starting lineup most of the season!

  • Luke72

    Derek’s only limits are the ones he puts on his self. His basketball IQ will shine this season!
    More PT will continue his march forward! A few additional boards could be the difference for winning more games this year. Derek can deliver!

  • stonaroni

    Officer Elston for hire! This guy will be a huge piece in this program for the next three seasons. I am predicting 10ppg and 6rpg this year.

  • stonaroni

    Officer Elston for hire! This guy will be a huge piece in this program for the next three seasons. I am predicting 10ppg and 6rpg this year.

  • 11th and Done (Dunn)

    no joke, i’ve seen him too. he could definitely has a career in the wwf if this basketball thing doesn’t pan out.

  • MeanzyFBaby

    I saw the entire team when I was in town during the Michigan game weekend. Derek Elston is gets his muscle milk in! Dude was swollen and intimidating! I expect him to log very heavy minutes for us at the 4. While in comparison Watford looked lean and might be trying to gain athleticism and quickness so he can play the 3 more often.

  • Spiderman0551

    I think with our lineup last year, combined with the fact that he was a freshman, that Elston was almost always asked to guard someone that he didn’t match up real well with. We had very little interior defense last year period from anybody. Pritchard only had to look at somebody to get whistled for a foul. I think Elston and Pritchard will do much better this year on both ends of the court, whether Guy pans out or not.

  • Outoftheloop

    Derek has all of the athletic talents and basketball skills of Robbie Hummel. Indiana must play him 25-30 min/game. We know that he will produce offensively and on the boards. Derek needs to take it as his personal challenge to become a “shut-down” defender. I love his passion and energy! Also he now looks like a “Beast” and Indiana has needed one. Bring on MSU or WI (and Purdue, IL and OSU)!

  • Anonymous

    One potential “big” lineup:

    6’5″ Jeremiah Rivers
    6’5″ Maurice Creek
    6’9″ Christian Watford
    6’9″ Derek Elston
    7’0″ Guy-Marc Michel

    Rebounds, anyone?

  • Like to see Elston at the 4 with Guy at center or at the 5 with the small 3 guard uptempo team. He seems to have the extra motor players need to succeed at this stage. I liked his game last year. Capo looks stronger as well and I hope that with Pritch we can get some easy put backs and rebounds. Guy will be important – since that allows Elston more flexibility and should significantly improve his scoring and rebounds. Nice to see him bulk up – I also love his energy and enthusiasm – something this team needs to help it grow into a big ten contender.

  • MillaRed

    I don’t remember who we were playing last season but we were getting stomped. Someone delivered a pass to Elston on the left wing on a secondary fast break. He took off a few feet in front of the free throw line and delivered a nasty, thunderous dunk.

    We may have got our butts whipped but that was the best play of the game on either side. Once DE figures it all out he will be a big problem for the opposition. Really like this kid.

  • MillaRed

    I don’t remember who we were playing last season but we were getting stomped. Someone delivered a pass to Elston on the left wing on a secondary fast break. He took off a few feet in front of the free throw line and delivered a nasty, thunderous dunk.

    We may have got our butts whipped but that was the best play of the game on either side. Once DE figures it all out he will be a big problem for the opposition. Really like this kid.

  • JerryCT

    So far no one has added that DE made some crucial passes from the high post when we were in that high post offense . Perhaps the best example was against Minn when he was in the game in overtime and fed JR on a back door cut for 2 crucial points.

    His passing can develop more than any other 4/5 we have not to mention his shooting touch ………….. unless the bulk killed it

  • HoosierNshaker

    What I like most about Elston is his natural nose for the basketball. He may not be the greatest shooter or have the best inside game. But he does have a knack for being in the right place at the right time for rebounds and he is rarely out of position (on the boards his defense is another story). I still feel more comfortable with Elston in the 4 he looked overwhelmed last year when Pritchard got in foul trouble in the 5.

  • Scott W.

    Bobby 6’9″
    Prichard 6’10”
    Howard 6’8″

  • Scott W.

    Elston could be the next Blake Griffin.

  • Anonymous

    That was one of my favorite moments of last season and the best play that DE was part of that stood out above others. He also showed more confidence in his jumper in those last few games. With his added size we should be seeing more of those powerful dunks.

  • Panther1

    I assume you mean he may blow out his knee? I like DE, but come on man. Comparing him to the number one overall pick in the draft from 2 years ago. I love I.U. and I love reading this blog but you have got to be kidding. Just tell me you were joking, because right now I am in disbelief.

  • marsh21

    Mr. Elston is the person who can have the biggest impact on the team this year!

    If he plays well it will draw the defense and our wing and guards will go crazy. I believe this kid holds are winning record in his hands. If there is no improvement we sit at 500 or below.

    It’s that simple.

  • Yogi Kelin Zeller

    From an emotional, toughness, and leadership standpoint….Elston is our Chris Kramer, AJ Moye type of guy….only he has offensive ability. He is a big wild card for IU this year given his ability to operate in and out of the paint, his even bigger build, and work ethic. I just wish he would get a flat top hair cut to go along with the tats and gotee…

  • Anonymous

    Without the freak athleticism, maybe.

  • Anonymous

    “I must break you.”

  • IU32

    Your line up is correct, except Verdell will replace JR…

  • Jwund

    Is ‘Outoftheloop’ supposed to mean you don’t watch basketball? I’m sure Purdue would be a little bummed if they had Elston and Creek instead of Hummel and Moore, but apparently they’re a toss-up in your book.

  • Hoosieriniowa

    I think for awhile DE was a victim of paralysis by analysis. Trying to think of everything he was being taught in practice caused him to not utilize his natural basketball instincts. Near the end of the season he started to come into his own. He needs “softer hands” (couldn’t handle some great passes), quicker feet on defense, and working on his hops when he goes up inside are his physical challenges. All achievable. I love his commitment and intensity. If for some reason bball doesn’t work out he would also be an awesome tightend for Lynch.

  • RJG

    I think at some point, hopefully early this season, that something is going to click in Elston and he’s going to explode and be a very dominant player for us. He seems to have all of the key attributes, but has had a hard time putting them all together at one time. I think when it finally all comes together he is going to be the phenomenal player that we all thought he could be for us when he was in High School.