That’s A Wrap: Thomas Bryant

  • 03/30/2016 7:51 am in

Welcome to “That’s A Wrap,” our player-by-player recap of the 2015-2016 Indiana Hoosiers. Today: Thomas Bryant.

Bryant (35 games): 11.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 69.3% eFG, 70.6% FT, 33.3 3PFG% in 22.6 minutes per game.

Remember when Thomas Bryant wasn’t supposed to be a Hoosier?

“Really it’s down to two,” his mother told Syracuse.com in November of 2014. “Syracuse and Indiana. And it might be down to one soon. Thomas has always told me that Syracuse was the leader.”

She added about Indiana: “They have a lot going on. It seems like we went down there under false pretenses. They didn’t tell us anything about failed drug tests or that type of thing going on. My son doesn’t need to be around that stuff.”

When you juxtapose her comments with her son leaning on Crean’s shoulder after Indiana’s loss to North Carolina, a photo of a player and coach forever connected, it seems almost impossible they were ever even uttered. But such was the state of the program at the time.

Things changed. And after it seeming like a long shot, Bryant committed to the Hoosiers a little over four months later — marking the fifth straight season Tom Crean had wrangled in a McDonald’s All-American.

It was a big deal.

Bryant’s motor, skill and energy gave Indiana a legitimate presence on the interior and he delivered all season long. The center also dispelled the notion — after Cody Zeller and Noah Vonleh before him — that Tom Crean’s offense couldn’t find and feature big men. The truth is Zeller and Vonleh, despite their size, were not traditional back to the basket big men. It was sometimes a weird fit — square peg in a round hole type thing. With Bryant fully embracing and fitting such a role — though he flashed other offensive skills as well — he worked the block with an outstanding efficiency.

Bryant began the season 16-of-20 from the floor, scoring 39 points in his first three contests. In that third game, a blowout win against Creighton at home, Bryant also posted four blocks to go along with his 17 points. The Huntington Prep product screamed and yelled and celebrated with raw energy on Branch McCracken Court and his teammates appeared to feed off it. Bryant’s raw emotion, though, was sometimes an Achilles heel. He’d react too strongly to foul calls against him when he would have been better served to keep his emotions in check. Though as the season went along, he did get better with that.

Bryant ended the year with an effective field goal percentage of 69.3. Such a mark would have landed him third in the country in the category according to KenPom, though him playing less than 60 percent of Indiana’s minutes disqualified him from Pomeroy’s list. It was a mark that also bested Zeller’s 62.3 from his freshman campaign as a Hoosier.

Early in games, Indiana would look to feed Bryant on the right block and let him go to work. Bryant isn’t a jump out of the gym athlete, but he has the ability to use both hands and go over both shoulders, making him a tough cover. Bryant also showed he could handle the ball some, though his decision-making was sometimes questionable and led to a turnover. He didn’t take many, but Bryant flashed a fluid 3-point stroke and hit 33 percent on the season (5-of-15). After struggling a bit on defense in Maui, Bryant figured out pick and roll coverages better and it was one of the reasons Indiana’s defense improved once Big Ten play hit. Bryant’s lateral quickness could still use improvement, but his size and length were an asset to Indiana’s backline.

Bryant was also huge in Indiana’s win over Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32, as he scored 17 points in the second half to will Indiana to the victory.

Bottom Line: In terms of a traditional big man, Bryant’s freshman season proved he’s the best of the Crean era. He’s a smart kid with an infectious personality and the type of player you want on your side. The question now becomes: Will he turn pro? It’s likely Bryant declares for the draft to head to the combine and see what kind of feedback he receives. He’s currently No. 20 on Chad Ford’s Big Board, though both DraftExpress and NBADraft.net haven’t even slotted him anywhere in this year’s draft — instead having him as a first rounder in 2017. Another year in Bloomington of skill development under Crean could turn Bryant into a lottery pick in 2017. And that might be the better play for next-level preparation. But if it looks like he could go in the first round of the 2016 draft, it would be hard to fault him for taking the leap.

Quotable: “This is why I’m here!” – Bryant to the Indiana crowd inside Wells Fargo Arena after his 17-point second half performance and Indiana’s win over Kentucky

Previously: OG AnunobyJuwan Morgan

Filed to:

  • Fifer39

    Seems like a guy for whom the programme, and his legacy to it, is very important. Or is that just the latest in my desperate search for reasons to convince myself that he’s coming back?!

  • BL

    I think TB will learn he’s at best a very late 1st rounder or could easily fall into the second round. Confident he’ll return for one more year.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    wow, what a turnaround! some seriously bleak times back when his mom made those comments. and he’s such a contrast to NV, who seemed to have one foot out the door from the minute he arrived on campus. i get the impression TB wants to do good things at IU before heading off to make his millions. hard to say, but my guess is he’ll be in candy stripes for one more season. and if so, what a season it will be!

  • Crimson&CremeFraiche

    Where would we have been this season without Big Tom? Come back and lets go even farther.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    where would CTC be now? quite possibly packing up his things? i dunno, but it was a huge get. thanks again to jimmy b for being such a cheating lowlife.

  • AJT

    If he learned anything from Yogi, he will be a Hoosier next year. There are so many facets of the game he can stand to improve in, and that hard work will pay off. It would be a shame to rush to the NBA as a later 1st or early 2nd round pick, when TB knows he has the potential to be a lottery pick the next year. Pretty confident he’s coming back.

  • SCHoosier

    I can only hope TB decides to come back for another year of development..which in IMO he needs. It was fun to watch this talented kid go from an over-emotional, whining freshman to the in control maturing college star that we saw in that interview. Great year Thomas..please come back for one more!

  • floorburn

    ITH, can you do That’s a Wrap on the assistant coaches as well? Or at least a summary of what they do for the team? Crean seems to have a great staff and it would be interesting to know which coaches develop which skills (i.e. the shot doctor)

  • Ole Man

    I remember when a self-named “expert” was declaring that the kid had lousy footwork and he would never want him on his team…this despite the fact that TB was battling foot injuries. Well, Mr. Expert, I hope you’re man enough to eat an extra helping of crow! You sure were a big man about tearing him down when he was hurting.
    Anyhow, TB was my favorite player on this year’s team.
    He’s definite 1st round, but outside the lottery; so, I think he will be back.
    Go Hoosiers!

  • Injuries?!? Man, you’re just making excuses!

    just kidding, of course. My only anecdote about TB is that in watching his videos prior to the season, I thought maybe he was a little cocky and had a bad attitude on the court. I had NO idea the kid had such an awesome infectious personality and would be the epitome of a team player.

    It’s hard to point to one player on this team this past season and say he’s my “favorite,” because they all worked hard, were great teammates, and contributed. But if I was forced at gunpoint to pick a favorite, TB would certainly come to mind.

    And I agree, I think he’ll be back, and if he is I think he’ll be one of the team’s most important leaders.

  • Koko

    Another year and he will be a first rounder no doubt. Question is can he wait? I think so. He seems to really like the college experience and the team oriented point of view. After the NC game he said “We won’t forget”.

  • pcantidote

    I remember thinking in November that this kid was all hype and was going to be a bust. It sounds like part of that was due to injuries but I also just think his development was fantastic over the course of the season. I bet his FT % in November was in the 50s. He was slow, got tired quickly, and his post moves were very herky jerky. Great job TB and the coaches for the development. Come back for one more your TB and you will be a lottery pick like Cody.

  • pcantidote

    A cheating lowlife who is in the final 4 playing against another cheating program. Some times things just don’t seem fair.

  • Koko

    Well at least one of them will lose.

  • cbags05

    We need to go easy on this sand pit training. I guarantee that causes foot issues, especially in bigger dudes.

    Come back with no mercy, TB!

  • I wish I could recall which one of these guys was that ‘expert’.. Isn’t it interesting how often that turns out to be the case? A guy gets on here a spouts off about something, that sounds completely plausible when in fact, it’s all just so much B$..

  • Koko

    Most “experts” fade into the darkness of night never to return.

  • Hoosieriniowa

    He could be playing in the final four at Syracuse

  • cbags05

    except the ones we have to deal with on ESPN. And meteorologists. “Get paid to never be right.”

  • Ms hoosier

    I remember watching an interview with TB back when he first committed to IU and he was ask how many years that he planned on staying and Thomas said “at least two years”. Let’s just hope he is still thinking that way!!

  • Ms hoosier

    Had it not been for all the injuries he could have been playing against Syracuse.

  • Hoosieriniowa

    I should have said would instead of could. Would is a certainty. Could is a possibility.

  • Koko

    Well yes….espn and meterorologists….lol. I meant the ones that come into our forum.

  • HuntinHoosier86

    Only bone I have to pick with your post was when you said TB was your favorite player on this year’s team. Maybe that’s true, but you posted an awful lot defending and praising TW’s play. You could have fooled me TB was your favorite!

  • calbert40

    Syracuse getting to the Final Four is a product of chance and luck. After beating Dayton in the 1st round, they were able to play upset seeds in the two rounds after that. Playing Middle Tennessee (15) and Gonzaga (11) were nice presents for the Orange. Beating Virginia was impressive, but I think we can all agree that UVA imploded down the stretch to assist SU in cutting down the nets.

  • cbags05

    Syracuse WOULD not have had the same draw if TB were involved. So your certainty is uncertain to me.

  • RDD#76

    CTC hit a Grand Slam with this Freshman Class, great kids with upside to get even better in future years. Just thinking imagine a lineup on floor of Bryant, Davis, OG, Troy at 2 and RJ when is last time we fielded a lineup that big? Plus a bench full of plugins.

  • Dean Olson

    Absolutely false. You can’t possibly know that for sure. Thomas is a great player, arguably better than anyone on SU’s roster. But, that doesn’t mean they’d still be in the final four. Their season would have likely been radically different, with different tournament match ups and, ultimately, results. Don’t confuse the final four with the top four.

  • iuoiu

    Now Tony B has the “can’t coach vs. Syracuse zone” albatross around his neck – enjoy Tony, hopefully the Hoos fans are less brutal about it than the Hoosier fans were to TC.

  • FKIM01

    If the NCAA had any balls, he would be playing in the final four against Syracuse (with about four scholarship players) and Roy Williams would be enjoying his forced retirement.

  • Ole Man

    Love Troy. Just think he got a raw deal sometimes.

  • Sarasota Hoosier

    Virginia beat Syracuse 73-65 at end of January. can’t coach against zone is gone, maybe we should just say he chokes in the big games.

  • tiredofdogma

    The Lion King is poised to become one of the all time greats playing FOR Indiana, and has the potential to be one of the most dominating players in B1G history. We love ya TB — IU is your home! Banner Up!

  • IULore

    Nothing like and to put pressure on the joints. They need to work on something soft, like hardwood

  • IULore

    Nova will win it all, so dont worry

  • marcusgresham

    They better worry about how to guard Buddy Hield first.

  • marcusgresham

    Pretty much everyone says that so that, if that freshman year doesn’t go as planned, thre’s no crow-eating

  • IUMIKE1

    And it’s not like there is a textbook out there showing how to do that.

  • dwdkc

    True, TB is a special personality that is great for the team. I don’t believe in being too hard on Noah; that team had some problems not of his making.

  • dwdkc

    Yes, and yes it is. Hope you’re right though

  • IULore

    Told you. Nova is really, really good.

  • burntbologna

    No, CTC likes guard play and motion, that lineup wouldn’t fit what he tries to do. RJ, JBJ, TW, Davis and Bryant would be solid, if TW comes back..doubt it though, IMO. OG off the bench one more year, along with the incoming recruit huntington prep who looks like an athlete!

  • RDD#76

    I am not saying that’s his starting lineup but against a bigger team he could go that big with Colin and JM to plug in there with Jones and health we can also be four deep at guard spot.