NBA decisions will shape Indiana’s outlook for 2016-17 season

  • 03/28/2016 9:21 am in

In the immediate aftermath of Indiana’s 101-86 loss to North Carolina on Friday at the Wells Fargo Center, Thomas Bryant and Troy Williams weren’t ready to talk about their futures in Bloomington.

In previous years, it was typically window dressing around the country to hear players utter the words “I haven’t thought about that yet,” but this year, it may actually be accurate.

New NCAA rules that were passed earlier this year will allow underclassmen to test the NBA waters without losing their eligibility, which is a major change in the system.

Under the new format, underclassmen can declare for the NBA draft, participate in the NBA draft combine and workout for a team and still maintain their eligibility provided they do not hire an agent.

Underclassmen have until 10 days after the combine to remove their name from the NBA draft.

The NBA draft combine will be held May 11-15 in Chicago, which means the key date in the process is May 25. Most players who have a shot at being invited to the combine are expected to declare for the draft and go through the process for both the experience and to gather feedback before making a final decision.

On Thursday in Philadelphia, Indiana coach Tom Crean expressed his support for the rules changes.

“I think anything that allows them to make the best decision possible, to get the best level of exposure — but it still comes down to this: There’s still very little real, honest, truthful, unfiltered, non-agenda-driven feedback,” Crean said. “And the whole key is to get that feedback, because so many mistakes are made because people get into the other part of it.”

Bryant is currently ranked as the No. 20 prospect in the latest top 100 published by ESPN.com and the No. 23 prospect according to DraftExpress.com.

Williams, who is expected to graduate in May, is ranked as the No. 83 prospect according to ESPN.com and DraftExpress.com.

The Hoosiers lose three scholarship players – Yogi Ferrell, Nick Zeisloft and Max Bielfeldt – to graduation and will welcome a four-man incoming class that includes a pair of four-star recruits in De’Ron Davis and Curtis Jones.

James Blackmon Jr. and OG Anunoby told reporters on Friday that they expect to return to Indiana next season.

In addition to those two, the Hoosiers are expected to welcome back a strong nucleus that includes Robert Johnson, Collin Hartman and Juwan Morgan as well as Pittsburgh transfer Josh Newkirk.

The decisions of Bryant and Williams, however, could ultimately shape the outlook of the season. If both choose to return, Indiana could be looking at another preseason top 15 ranking in 2016-17.

Thanks to the new process, both players will get a chance to get the necessary information to make informed decisions on their futures.

“There’s so many opinions and voices and everybody’s got an idea on it but there’s very, very few decision makers,” Crean added. “And the trick is to really understand what the decision makers see, get your people to understand that — which we’ve been pretty fortunate with that at Indiana — and then build from there. But that’s the most important thing. And I do love the new rules. And hopefully they’re here to stay. And we’ll see how it goes.”

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  • SeeingRed

    TB will have to likely have to show more than incremental gains to go from end of first round to lottery pick. And lottery pick probability (weighed against the risk of injury) is the only reason to come back. The questions to me are, what happens to his shooting percentage when he is forced into a first-option role, and will CTC make sure TB gets enough shots to put up the numbers he needs to put up? Can TB show in one more season at IU that he can be a legit rim protector, or will another season confirm for NBA scouts that he can’t?

    I think it is far more complicated than just deciding to play another year to develop into a better player. Sure, he will get better but there are many factors from his perspective.

    If he just really wants another year of the college experience, maybe that trumps everything and he comes back.

  • TomJameson

    Not sure that would be up to CTC. My understanding was that he was “out voted” on releasing Holt in the first place, so I doubt that the decision to bring back Holt would be in only the coach’s. I think the AD would have the deciding vote on that one.

    FWIW … I would absolutely love to have Emmit back again, but he’s not really a big like TB, he would be more of a 4 playing out of position. True bigs, like PeeYoo had this year, would probably give him a hard time.

  • TomJameson

    Yeah, I’m jumping on this bandwagon as well. I really think that he is just too aggressive at times … takes one step too many into traffic. Or like RDD said, needs to just keep his head up. I think with a good consistent year, he could very easily be a lottery pick next year.

  • TomJameson

    Cody not progressing in his second year is a myth. Some folks try to perpetuate that because not every game was a “great” game, but his skills DID progress, and his climb up the draft ladder progressed immensely.

    At the end of his freshman year Cody said he was staying because he wasn’t done enjoying the college experience. Plus he had more to do. That, IMO, is what TB will be doing. He is really enjoying college, plus he KNOWS that he has more to do. I think he’ll be back for one more year, then go out in the lottery next year.

    Troy is the one I worry about. I think he might go for ANY money now, even in Europe.

  • TomJameson

    I certainly agree that Thomas stays and Troy leaves (although there is a slight hope that Troy comes back).

    As for leadership, I DO believe that RJ, CH, and even TB could be leaders, but IU will need one leader for everybody to look to for those qualities that finally developed in Yogi. Let’s face it, everyone “leads” at one time or another just by communicating and talking on the floor, but we need that one overall leader that sets examples, teaches the young padawans, and just takes over the show.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if either Josh Newkirk or RJ becomes that guy.

  • TomJameson

    My thinking almost exactly. It’s definitely in their best interest to declare, and if invited to a combine then they will get some very good feedback. My thinking after that is what you said about TB, he is enjoying himself and can raise his stock a ton. TW is another story, but even though I’m holding onto a slight hope he comes back, I think he may chase the money and pro career … even if it leads to Europe.

  • TomJameson

    A player can declare without hiring an agent, but you still have to be invited to a combine to attend one. Not quite sure Tim would be invited to a combine. But I sure would like to be surprise in that regard!

  • TomJameson

    I think Tim contributes in ways other than what you see during games.

  • SeeingRed

    Don’t forget that Vic and Cody benefitted a lot status wise from being in one of the weakest overall draft classes in a long time. This year is supposedly pretty weak, not sure about next year.

    I have no problem with Troy wanting to get paid, regardless of where it is. I don’t operate under the illusion that these players owe any D1 school anything when it comes to turning pro. They churn out untold millions for schools and the NCAA in this current paradigm.

    Just like anybody, Troy needs to make a career decision and it could work out well or backfire.

  • Fivelefts

    Not being fully developmentally prepared, be it mentally or physically, can hurt his overall career earnings as well. Sure he risk injury if he stays.., but that’s a chance all athletes face. However, coming back could help him grow into skill set in a more nurturing environment. You are correct in your assessment of Cody, from freshman year to Sophomore year..However, I place that blame on Cody.. For instance, I think TB uses more variety in his game, during live action than Cody did. Cody has a nice mid-range shot.. but he hardly ever used during live games, here at IU. I think TB’s willingness to explore his game “in-game”.. gives him the advantage of development over Cody. IMO

  • Fivelefts

    Nope! If only he could play consistently, as he did in the second half of that NC game..wouldn’t that be something!

  • Koko

    At what point does that invite come? It is my impression that any player can declare without an agent. Do you mean any player can declare without an agent but has to then be invited to the combine? No invite and that is the end of their no agent declare?

  • TomJameson

    Can you imagine it everyone turned up at the combine? It would be a zoo.

    The invitation list for the NBA combine is determined by a vote of the member teams of the NBA. In 2013 63 players were invited, in 2014 60 players were invited, and in 2015 I think around60 – 62 were invited.

  • Koko

    Two players just announced intentions to be graduate transfers.
    6′ 6″ USC guard Katin Reinhardt and Michigan guard Spike Albrecht.
    A 6′ 6″ guard might help us….anyone know anything about him?
    Another Michigan transfer to IU that plays well would send Beilein up a wall.

  • Koko

    Yes I see your point, it would be interesting if a couple hundred or so showed up to the combine. I can only assume that the invitation process from before the new rules still apply to those new rules….makes sense. The only difference being a player can go back to his college team if no go at the combine.

  • TomJameson

    I don’t know if there is a limit on the number or not, but I can see an increase because of the new rules. Pretty sure the sequence of events is …
    First — Players declare for the draft.
    Second — Invitations are sent from the list of declarations.

    — If not invited I would think that the players can get some kind of advice from somebody, then back to college to work on the advice.
    — If invited to the combine they participate to get some real advice on where they may be drafted, plus get some good advice on what they need to work on.

    I’m pretty sure that both TB and TW would get invited. Hopefully they would both return, but that is probably pie-in-the-sky hoping.

  • dwdkc

    He really seemed to improve his coaching this year. We saw lots of halftime/ingame adjustments that worked, better use of personnel (helped that he had more to work with this year instead of trying to hide a flawed team last year), and most importantly, he was able to have them playing their best at the end. With better health and in almost any other region where they didn’t come up against a deep NC team shooting their best all year, we’d very possibly be getting excited for a Final 4 game. He’s never had a problem with recruiting. Given IU’s huge fanbase support and the instate talent level, I give him an outside chance to turn us into a top 5 program like we were in the 70s and 80s (but were no longer after 1993). And after Coach K retires, we might see better results than Duke.

  • dwdkc

    (Except, maybe, for you, Ken.) And the Boilers.

  • Ole Man

    He will have his degree in May.
    His game is more pro oriented.
    Not sure how well he really gets along with CTC.
    Risk of injury.

  • Fifer39

    All valid reasons, but set against the potential to realise your dream of playing at the highest level I just think I’d be giving it one more go. I hope he believes in himself as much as you do 🙂

  • Doug Wilson

    That is the ticket… We can only hope IUs storyline this year will impress that ’17 recruiting class…. Hopefully Bryant and Williams will see that in coming back, IU is strong with experience, but also get another year to make headline for future recruits to see. It can take years to develope as a NBA player. Why not do it old school. STAY in School. The NCAA gets more exposure than the D League. Just saying! And that is where TW would be heading.

  • Arch Puddington

    What counts, though, is what HE wants. If he is content to serve as a practice player and occasional mop-up guy, there is no harm in it. Every team in America has one or more scholarship players who never play, often several of them. Teams win because of their top 7-8 guys for the most part, with a few teams going as deep as 10 who see regular minutes. The 13th guy on the roster has no impact on a team’s success, nor should he. Even Kentucky and Duke can’t recruit and keep 13 genuine contributors, and it wouldn’t matter even if they could because they wouldn’t all play. There are only 200 minutes in a game, and the best guys will always get the bulk of the minutes.

  • b_side

    How about defensive improvement. According to kenpom, the team went from 84 in defensive efficiency to 28 year over year. Suppose that was all on Yogi’s arrival? You might say, how do you measure defense…well Sports Reference offers defensive win shares, which showed improvement. In fact, his offensive win shares went down (more support/less reliance due to guys like Victor and Yogi).

    Putting aside defense, we’re talking about a team in 2011-12 ranked 15-25 (sometimes not ranked at all) vs. the #1 ranked team throughout most of the season. You don’t get that kind of leap without your best player developing year over year.

  • SeeingRed

    The main question I would be pondering if I was TB: if I come back, is this offense going to run through me? Am I going to get enough shots to shine up my numbers enough to make me a lottery pick?

    Deron Davis needs shots. JBJ needs shots. An improving OG needs shots. If Troy comes back, he’s coming back to shoot. RJ isn’t going to quit shooting because he’s handling the ball more. Crean talks a lot about working inside out and getting paint touches, but anyone who follows his teams can clearly see that’s not really where the the focus is. There’s a lot of perimeter weave and slash, and outside shooting. Not much direct feed to post players.

    Yes, it sounds cynical and selfish but this is really a business decision. I don’t doubt TB will get better in most areas if he comes back. It’s a question of how much improvement is likely given the situation, and is that enough?

    If he decides another year will take him to the NBA easy street, he’ll be back.

  • b_side

    The good news in terms of touches for TB, JBJ or co. is that Yogi’s departure opens doors for shots.

    I agree that TB didn’t shoot enough. In fact, I’m fairly certain he didn’t qualify for national FG% because he took 4.8 shots a game instead of the benchmark of 5+.

    That said, TB’s offensive game has to be the least of scouts’ concerns. He has great hands, solid footwork and even showed off his prowess from distance in a limited sample size.

    If I’m thinking about drafting TB, I want to see him playing 30 minutes a game. That means staying out of foul trouble, defending without fouling and controlling the glass.

    We saw glimpses of this dominance, both offensively and defensively, against UK in the last 8-10 minutes.