Freshman Focus: O.G. Anunoby

  • 06/26/2015 9:34 am in

“Freshman Focus” is an Inside the Hall series on each of Indiana’s three incoming freshmen where we take an in-depth look at all three newcomers. Today the series concludes with a look at O.G. Anunoby. (Previously: Thomas Bryant, Juwan Morgan)

Thomas Bryant comes to Bloomington as the prize of Indiana’s 2015 recruiting class and with accolades like being a McDonald’s All-American and a Jordan Brand All-Star. Juwan Morgan built a national profile last year as he won the most improved player award on Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) circuit.

IU’s third incoming scholarship freshman, O.G. Anunoby, doesn’t have a top 100 ranking like Bryant or Morgan, but was a late riser whom the Hoosiers hope will develop into a rotation stalwart in the years to come.

Unlike most Big Ten-level recruits, Anunoby spent his freshman season on the junior varsity at Jefferson City (Mo.) and his development into a high major prospect happened later in his prep career. Blair Thompson, who coached Anunoby all four seasons at Jefferson City, said there were signs early of his potential.

“When I got here, he was an incoming freshman,” Thompson told Inside the Hall. “He was probably about 6-foot-3 at that point. Real skinny kid, awkward, but at that time you could tell he had a feel for the game, he was a smart player already. He possessed a lot of potential at that point.”

Anunoby started every game on Jefferson City’s JV team as a freshman and started varsity as a sophomore, but it wasn’t until the summer prior to his junior season that he made a major jump in his development.

That summer, his recruitment began to pick up as he played with the St. Louis Eagles, a Nike sponsored AAU program.

Statistically, Anunoby’s junior season at Jefferson City was the best of his prep career. He averaged 21.3 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game and shot 44 percent from behind the 3-point line. He was also named Missouri Basketball Association Class 5 all-state.

“I think where he made the biggest jump was between his sophomore and junior year,” Thompson explained. “He came into his junior year and he was doing things that we were hoping he’d be able to do two years earlier like scoring in different ways, not just being a 3-point shooter, but being able to score off the bounce, finish at the rim, impact the game defensively and run the floor in transition. He got a lot better in all of those aspects and was just a game changer for us as a team and for him and his basketball career.”

By the fall of his junior season, Anunoby had offers from SIU-Edwardsville and Missouri State and interest from schools like Central Michigan, Evansville, Iowa, Southern Illinois, Yale, Lehigh and Boston University.

But rather than rushing into a decision, he saw the recruiting process through and decided to change AAU programs for the final summer of his prep career. Anunoby made the move to Team Thad and that AAU season is when the Hoosiers first became involved with his recruitment. The Hoosiers were recruiting his AAU teammate, Nick Marshall, and took notice in Anunoby.

By that time, other programs had also started to get involved.

Indiana’s diligence with Anunoby eventually won out as the program garnered his commitment over Georgia, Iowa, Gonzaga and Ole Miss in October of 2014. Still, Anunoby was a bit of an unknown nationally at the time of his commitment as he was ranked just a 3-star prospect by all of the major recruiting services.

“He’s a quiet guy off the court and even on it,” Thompson said. “I don’t think he drew a lot of attention to himself. He’s a very respectful, mature personality type. He’s a yes-sir, no-sir kind of guy with authority and adults. His family and background is all about respecting authority figures and adults. He interacts well with his teammates, always has. He laughs and jokes like any normal kid, but he’s a bit reserved in some aspects. I wouldn’t even call him quiet, he’s just not long winded.”

The challenge now for both Anunoby and Indiana is to develop the potential label into consistent production at the top level of college basketball.

He finished his high school career at Jefferson City on a positive note with averages of 19.1 points and 8.6 rebounds as a senior. Under Anunoby’s leadership, Jefferson City won the Class 5 District 10 title and he shot 60 percent from the field. He also lead the team in both blocks (33) and steals (37).

“Physically, he’s going to have to get stronger,” Thompson said. “He knows that, he knows it’s going to be hard and that it’s a big jump with the talent, athleticism and speed of the game. Those aspects, it’s a big jump and I think he can handle it.”

One factor working in Anunoby’s favor is that he’ll likely have some time to develop before he’s expected to take on a major role.

The Hoosiers return all of their perimeter pieces from a NCAA tournament team and are ranked in the preseason top 15 in several early polls.

“I think it will benefit him, the players that Indiana has coming back, upperclassmen, they’ve had success and they know the kind of work that needs to be put in to be successful,” Thompson said. “I think all of those freshmen that are coming in will benefit from being around those older players and learning how it’s done and what is expected in that program from the coaching staff.

“In talking to him about it, he’s excited for the opportunity, he’s excited to be a part of Indiana basketball and he is definitely willing to do whatever it takes to help the team in whatever the role may be from now until maybe a year from now.”

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  • Tyler T

    I see a very bright future for O.G as long as he trusts the process as puts in the effort. I like his raw ability and cool attitude.

  • Hoosier Hall

    I hope this kid has a great work ethic and that what they said about respect for authority is true. We have been in short supply of high character guys that follow the rules the past couple years, maybe that is changing now. I have no doubt if OG works hard and sticks with the program he will be a major contributor next season and beyond. Hoosier Hysteria dunk contest winner? Maybe!

  • sarge

    Raw athleticism, really good basketball IQ and flying below the radar of most recruiters. Sound like anyone else that TC has recruited to his programs? This guy could be the diamond in the rough for the Hoosiers.

  • SCHoosier

    Too bad that the Davis-Perea fiasco will probably cost OG a redshirt year (altho TC has yet to do one). Seems to have the work ethic. If he works as hard as will and Vic did…I think he will surprise some folks by his Jr. year. It would not surprise me if he made some contributions this coming season.

  • HoosierStuckInKY

    Excited to see what he can do for us! Does anyone know how to say his name other than “oh-jee”????

  • Hoosier Fanatic

    I remember watching him in the derby festival scrimmage session and he looked very promising. If he hits the weight room and puts in the work we could have a very solid piece for the future.

  • Hoosier Fanatic

    Ogugua “O.G.”

  • At the Quarries

    Mark my words folks, this kid is going to be one of the Hoosier greats. He was born for show time. Don’t ask me why. I just feel it.

  • Bill

    I hope he becomes a stalwart. A man can dream. I can only remember a handful of stalwarts in my 38 years of iu fandom.

    Btw. What’s a stalwart ?

  • Ole Man

    Actually, I think DD did use a medical red-shirt year. But it’s true that TC wouldn’t have used it otherwise.

  • Robert Golden

    This kid OG is a fabulous athlete.

    Go Hoosiers!

  • Beard

    Worst case scenario, Jeremy Hollowel, Best case scenario Vic. Maybe a little unrealistic on the best case scenario, but tons of potential and Vic wasn’t ranked much higher coming into college. This is Crean’s calling card, developing a guy like this. Great attitude is a huge factor when combined with unending work ethic.

  • TomJameson

    I think putting in the work is the key for all the players. OG has a very high ceiling (IMO), so I think he could have an Oladipo-like transformation … but only if he puts forth the effort to put in the work. For players that maybe don’t have that ceiling, they can still become very good with that same work effort.

  • I can tell you weren’t raised on a farm.. A stal wart is just what it says.. you go into a horse stall and look for a wart… If ya find one, it’s a stalwart. It’s almost like hunting ‘snipes’, which you probably know nothing about either…lol.

  • This guy is much more gifted athletically than Jeremy Hollowell was…

  • David Collins

    I agree, He has Vic written all over him. After we lose a few of are guards next season he will b a real O.G. on the floor for the next few years. CTC has an eye for under the radar players like O.G., Vic, Will Sheehey, Nick Zeisloft, n could possibly throw Holt in there depending on his growth as a player over the next few years as well.

  • Beard

    I agree from what I have seen, good point. Worst case Will maybe?

  • IULore

    Well, Jeremy could have been an NBA 3 no problem if he had his head in it. But he looked like he couldn’t care less out there.

  • Kyl470

    First Troy now OG. When are people going to stop trying to compare guys to Victor? Victor was the exception, not the norm.

  • marcusgresham

    In a lot of ways, though, Troy’s progress has mirrored that of Victor’s. The one major difference in their first two seasons is that Vic was always a pretty solid defender, but statistically they have been very similar….and that bodes well for Troy and Indiana fans, as the junior season for Vic was when it all came together.

  • marcusgresham

    Probably the main reason he opted to go to a junior college for the upcoming season. Having already used his redshirt year he would have simply lost a season of eligibility if he’d have transferred to another D-I school.

  • marcusgresham

    I don’t know if Holt would qualify as “under the radar” as much as he was detected outside of the range of radar. Had he spent last season in prep school, as initially intended, he would have drawn quite a bit of attention.

  • TomJameson

    I think that comparisons like that are okay as long as they are comparing attributes. It’s done all the time. We don’t know anything about how OG will do, but he is very athletic and has a great motor like Vic, but that’s really as far as one can go there.

    For Troy the comparisons go quite deep, and the 2015-16 season will tell the tale. Biggest difference between Troy and Vic is (like Marcus said) the defensive mindset. Vic was a beast almost from the first day. Can’t wait for Troys junior season, could be very special.

  • TomJameson

    adjective
    adjective: stalwart
    1.
    loyal, reliable, and hardworking.”he remained a stalwart supporter of the cause”
    synonyms:staunch, loyal, faithful, committed, devoted, dedicated, dependable, reliable, steady, constant, trusty, solid, hard-working, steadfast, redoubtable, unwavering
    “a stalwart supporter of the cause”
    antonyms:disloyal, unfaithful, unreliable
    dated
    strongly built and sturdy.”he was of stalwart build”
    noun
    noun: stalwart; plural noun: stalwarts
    1.
    a loyal, reliable, and hardworking supporter or participant in an organization or team.”the stalwarts of the Ladies’ Auxiliary”

  • Kyl470

    Honestly if we are doing comparisons OG recruiting bio looks a lot more like Will Sheehey’s than Vic.

  • IUMIKE1

    Good point AND comparison.

  • IUMIKE1

    Damn…..scary(for you, thinking like me lol)…….I was just thinking that for some reason I have the feeling that he will turn out to be the biggest surprise out of this group.

  • Hoosier89

    T-shirt/nickname idea for when O.G. starts posterizing people: Oh Geez Anunoby

  • sarge

    I never mentioned anyone by name for that reason. But CTC does have a knack for finding undervalued recruits and developing wings, which OG fits. I merely listed both player and coaching attributes, you did the comparison.

  • sarge

    Will had a competitive fire that I’m not sure OG has until I see it in person. I agree that they have similar game, but OG seems to be a better shooter. I will gladly take any scenario. You will always have comparisons though, it was Vic to Dwade, TW to Vic. I think every player brings their own style and skill.

  • sarge

    I totally agree with everything you said. Vic became a great player when he got a jumpshot because it complimented his other offensive skills and he was already a great defender. Troy can take it to that level with improved defense and shooting. I know he is working on the jumpshot, lets hope the defensive work follows suit.