Roundup: Way-too-early preseason top 25s for 2016-2017

  • 04/05/2016 10:48 am in

Following a 27-8 campaign that included an outright Big Ten championship and a trip to the Sweet Sixteen, Indiana will be looking to build on this season’s success next winter.

There are, however, plenty of questions to be answered with next year’s roster. How will IU’s retooled backcourt look without Yogi Ferrell and Nick Zeisloft? Will Thomas Bryant or Troy Williams be on next year’s team? What kind of sophomore leap will OG Anunoby take? Those are just a few questions that will be addressed over the coming weeks and months.

The uncertainty, however, hasn’t stopped the national media from having a bullish outlook on the Hoosiers for the 2016-2017 season. Several early preseason top 25s are out and we’ve rounded up those rankings below:’s Eamonn Brennan: No. 8

Indiana won the Big Ten title outright and beat a Kentucky team many (rightfully) considered a national-title contender en route to a Sweet 16 finish. It was a resounding, narrative-flipping season built in large part on the brilliant work of Yogi Ferrell, who now leaves Bloomington as one of the most productive guards (and players, period) in school history. The return of guard James Blackmon Jr. from injury is among the many reasons to stay bullish on the Hoosiers. Robert Johnson, Collin Hartman, and OG Anunoby, a basketball cyborg incrementally approaching self-awareness, are also on that list. The draft, in the end, might be the difference: If neither Troy Williams nor Thomas Bryant return — the latter especially — the Hoosiers will be a fun, competitive Big Ten team. If either comes back, or both, title contention is totally in play.

Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo! Sports: No. 9

Outlook: Indiana is likely to contend in the Big Ten again next season, but how good the Hoosiers can be may depend on how many of their frontcourt standouts return. Bryant and Anunoby both have first-round potential but could potentially improve their stock by returning, while Williams’ athleticism should at least get him some looks if he chooses to forgo his senior season. If even two of those three return, Indiana will be loaded in the frontcourt as Hartman, Morgan and the promising freshman Davis will also be available and capable of making an impact. There’s no single player who will replace everything that Ferrell did for Indiana this past season, but Indiana has options in the backcourt too. Newkirk, a Pittsburgh transfer, should compete for playing time at point guard with Johnson. A healthy Blackmon is likely to start at wing and Jones should also see playing time as well.

Gary Parrish of No. 12


· Notable players definitely gone: Yogi Ferrell, Max Biefeldt, Nick Zeisloft
· Others expected to leave: Troy Williams
· Notable players we expect to return: Thomas Bryant, OG Anunoby, James Blackmon, Robert Johnson, Collin Hartman, Juwan Morgan
· Others we expect to join the roster: Josh Newkirk, De’Ron Davis, Curtis Jones, Grant Gelon, Devonte Green

Why the Hoosiers are ranked here: This ranking is based on Thomas Bryant returning to school, which is obviously still up in the air. But even if Bryant leaves, Tom Crean will have enough pieces to keep the Hoosiers competing at, or near, the top of the Big Ten.

The Sporting News: No. 10

Why they’re here: It’s hard to know exactly where to rank Indiana right now. If Williams, Bryant and Anunoby all return — which is certainly possible — the Hoosiers deserve to be in the discussion for a spot in the top three. If all three leave — which doesn’t seem likely — they’d be a bit further down in the top 25. So we’ll put Tom Crean’s team here for now, knowing they’ll score a ton of points regardless and knowing that De’Ron Davis (a 6-9 recruit) will make an immediate impact next year, too.

Bleacher Report: No. 11

Why They’re Here: Best-case scenario, the Hoosiers return a good core led by Troy Williams and Thomas Bryant. Worst-case scenario, they return talented pieces but lose both Williams and Bryant to the NBA. Both have a chance at getting drafted in the first round, so the worst-case scenario is a possibility.

But even if those two do leave, the Hoosiers still have the talent to be a top-25 team with James Blackmon returning and OG Anunoby continuing to get better. It will be tough to replace Yogi Ferrell at point guard, but Robert Johnson is capable of playing the point, and head coach Tom Crean does a good job of putting his scorers in position to succeed.

Rob Dauster of No. 21

21. Indiana

· Returning: James Blackmon Jr., Troy Williams, Robert Johnson, O.G. Anunoby, Juwan Morgan
· Newcomers: Josh Newkirk, De’Ron Davis, Grant Gelon, Devonte Green, Curtis Jones
· Why they’re here: The Hoosiers are another team that is very up in the air at this point. Will Williams, Anunoby and Thomas Bryant be back? Can anyone replace Yogi Ferrell at the point?

USA Today: No. 18

Do-everything floor general Yogi Ferrell is gone, but Tom Crean will keep Indiana in the Big Ten race. Remember doubting them last season when second leading scorer James Blackmon Jr. went down for the season? It’s not recommended to count out the Hoosiers in 2016-17, either. Like other teams, the outlook is uncertain until NBA decisions happen. Troy Williams (13.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and Thomas Bryant (11.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg) both will test the waters. If either or both return, it’d be a big boost for Indiana, which will need to see reserves step up and Blackmon Jr. to become an even bigger star.

SB Nation: No. 14

Defections by James Blackmon, Thomas Bryant, Troy Williams and O.G. Anunoby (or just a couple of them) could knock Indiana down a few rungs when these rankings are updated in May, but for now, the pieces are there for the Hoosiers to build on their 2015-16 accomplishments. If everyone comes back, the reigning Big Ten regular season champs could very easily start next season somewhere in the top 10.

The Big Lead: No. 11

11. Indiana (27-8, Lost in Sweet 16): The school’s career assist leader, Yogi Ferrell, graduates. (Rising junior Robert Johnson – 8.1 ppg, 3.1 apg – will replace him.) Will Troy Williams leave for the NBA? Center Thomas Bryant might. If both stay, the Hoosiers will have Top 10 potential all season (the guess here is both leave). Keep an eye on OG Anunoby as a breakout star on the team next year, along with James Blackmon, who missed most of the 2015-16 season due to injury. Tom Crean landed two Top 50 recruits: F De’Ron Davis and G Curtis Jones.

Campus Insiders: No. 6

Losing Yogi Ferrell robs IU of its leader, but Thomas Bryant and Troy Williams are huge talents, and a healthy James Blackmon Jr. will give IU a solid scorer. Freshmen De’Ron Davis and Curtis Jones will make an instant impact, and this team will get a boost from Pitt transfer Josh Newkirk.

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  • I read a scouts analysis, actually I think it was on here.. And I don’t think Bryant is a first rounder.. As the scout indicated, he plays too ‘stiff’.. and he needs to work on his athleticism. Just because he’s 6′ 10″ that doesn’t necessarily get it in the NBA. I’d bet a big paycheck, he’s not going first round if he tries. There are at least 25 or 30 guys that are a lot better than he is and quite a few that are just as big, play way above the rim better than he does, and just how many of the first round teams are needing a 6′ 10″ project anyway.. I don’t think so.. I think he stays.. I think to a certain extent our viewpoint of TB is somewhat inflated on this site.. I may be dead wrong, but that is my take on it.. As far as Troy, I think he is all but gone. However I do disagree with a lot of the posters on here.. I think he could benefit significantly coming back one more year. Look how many four year players in the Championship game, a team would rather take a chance on than Troy.. Troy is a huge question mark.. and I think he could erase a lot of that with one more year of maturity..

  • They draft on potential of a guy is really a top pick already, i.e., Anthony Davis.. but there are a heck of a lot of players that have as much promise or more than TB that’ll likely be first round picks in this draft.. Just don’t see it with Bryant. he is way ‘green’ right now.. Now if he wants to settle for second round, then he’ll go.. but He isn’t a first rounder in my opinion right now.

  • IULore


  • Donnie Vick

    I believe Tharp is taking his talents into the professional field. He was a senior.

  • BL

    Watched a recent HS game online. Not one of those highlight tapes. Definitely not a lock down defender in that game.

  • You’re right. there were a lot of Seniors.. and really no freshman one and done players, in fact it’d be interesting to know how many Freshman actually played in that game.. And you can’t tell man NBA team wouldn’t take Kennedy Meeks, Bryce Johnson, or Justin Jackson off of UNC or .. Ochefu or Jenkins off of Villanova.. and that’s just off of the top of my head. I think Villanova has another 6′ 11″ Freshman, that’ll likely try out at the Combine.. That’s 6 right there without even thinking about guys like Ben Simmons, LSU or Karnowski or Sabonis from the Zags.. and I’m not even scratching the surface for big guys. That doesn’t mean some fast talking agent wont get to Bryant and sell him on going. but I just think he’s not seeing the first round..

  • I heard that Villanove cancelled classes for today.. Kind of shows where they place academics in the whole scheme of things I wonder if Carolina cancelled any imaginary classes as well.. So they could have an imaginary celebration for the team’s return from Houston.

  • Fifer39

    Yes agreed. Sounds like McSwain could be really good addition and wouldn’t it be nice if CTC has another ace or two up if sleeve in grad transfers if he has a scholly or two to fill!

  • Ole Man

    Oh, yea! Any win over pUKe is exceptional!

  • E Foy McNaughton

    To all those who said Thon Maker goes strait to the NBA, darn it if you were not correct.
    That said – the current roster (assuming no losses and the current additions should be fun for our brackets next year.
    Go IU!

  • Kyl470

    1. That is a total crap shoot. Can’t predict injuries.
    2. I think both will double their scoring average.
    3. JBJ should easily outproduce NZ.
    4. I expect DD to make an impact on defense. Offense not sure.
    5. JN won’t come close to replacing Yogi.
    6. No clue until I see him play a real game in D1 College.

    Thos are my guesses.

  • BL

    There are several draft boards that don’t even list TB. I think this whole thing is impossible to predict until the combine is complete. That said, If you put a gun to my head now, I’d say he passes all together or goes to the combine and walks away with a very, very late 1st round projection or top half of the 2nd round projection, and therefore chooses to return to IU for one more year. If he returns to IU, I believe he’ll improve significantly (athletically, statistically and eye test), and he’ll go top 15 in 2017. I believe he has more upside than the scout suggested.

    However, as I said in response to Arch’s post, if he does get a top 20-25 projection, very possible he goes.

  • Ole Man

    LOL. Glad to see my nickname for McSwain is catching on!

  • BL

    Absolutely. I believe it’s a divine omen.

  • BL

    1. That’s always a requirement and Damnit, we’re due.
    5. When I say godsend, I don’t mean he’s as good as YF. Just good enough with the teammates he’ll have around him. Btw, kids pretty good.
    6. I’ll go on record as saying McFly will be an incredibly nice addition off the bench.

  • BL

    Assume you’re referring to TW. Just to be perfectly clear, I believe TW could improve his game with another year at IU but the question is how much could he improve his draft stock. He might move up some but when conversation includes jumping all the way into the lottery, that’s when I tune out.

  • Since I think TW will be gone, I’d just slot OG in his place and there’s a winning starting 5. And as BL says below, OG should be starting soon in the season, given that he’s being slotted as a first-round NBA pick in 2017. 🙂

  • Hey, Yogi had a ton to do with the current players’ development last season. So, he could take at least a little bit of credit for a banner next season. How’s that for logic?

  • JetpackJunky

    I didn’t realize that at the time, but it makes me even more glad he was able to be a part of the roster for his last year with the team.

  • PocketHoosier

    So why is this “way too early?” It’s the day after last season’s championship. Offseason is in full swing!

    *yesterday* would have been too early, but today? Today is all systems go for 2016-17.

  • I tend to agree with you. Arguably, Yogi’s leadership was the difference last season, and I do wonder who’s going to pick that up next year. Yogi was an exceptionally smart basketball player, and we could see how he’d pick up on what the opposition was doing and the team’s play would improve throughout a game. I’m not saying a team _has to have_ that sort of a floor general to be successful, but it was sure nice to have.

  • Hoosier89

    I think McSwain can play the backup 2.

  • Fifer39

    Saw that Roy W said the worst thing for him was that he couldn’t take the hurt away. Feel bad for him – he took the academics away for as long as he could so he shouldn’t blame himself.

  • PocketHoosier

    Selfishly, I hope Troy hears bad news at this draft combine and “Lottery” talk at next year’s. I see him being an integral piece to a deep run next year, but I saw way to much bad basketball from this year to think he can’t improve his stock with 1 more season of *controlled* basketball.

    That is, unless he thinks he has peaked.

    I never really bought into the “Bad Troy” narrative.
    I think there was
    “Good Troy” and
    “Trying-Too-Hard-To-Be-Magnificent Troy.”
    He may hear what he wants from teams, but I’m expecting him to hear “2nd Round If” talk.
    If he can get rid of that second guy and work only on making that first guy better, he will make it to where he wants to be.

  • Hoosier89

    This is my expected lineup too.

  • There’s this little voice inside me that says TB cares more about being an IU player than we’re giving him credit for. I’m sure he dreams about playing in the NBA, but I just don’t know if that’s what’s driving him right now. I’m burying this in the thread a little because I have no evidence for it except for his enthusiasm, his statements about “not forgetting” the UNC loss, and the picture of him being consoled by CTC. Just something about the kid (and maybe his mom, too) tells me he’ll be back.

  • My pet theory was that it was always “Good Troy when the game is going well, and Bad Troy when he thought he had to take the team on his shoulders.” I’ve never thought of Troy as a “selfish” player who was merely showboating, but a kid who generally cares about the team and often thinks it’s on him to pick things up–he said as much in one of the pressers before or after the UNC game, can’t remember which one. Basically, he said he does whatever he does based on what the thinks the team needs at any given point.

    That says nothing about whether or not I think he could benefit from another year, what we’d see from him next year, etc. Really, it makes TW something of an enigma that’s really hard to unravel and predict.

  • Troy is an enigma. I’d rather try to predict when the Big One will be hitting Southern California.

  • Fifer39

    Much as I loved Yogi (sucks writing that in the past tense!) I agree with you that we need to transform the offence rather than looking for someone to replace and be as dominant. With everyone healthy and even with Yogi gone, I think the backcourt will be better than this year and probably better by not having to rely quite so heavily on its PG for everything.

  • Fifer39

    I’m not sure we won’t see Johnson, Newkirk and Blackmon all start even though CTC seemed to favour the bigger line up this year. But if we go with your 2 guard line up I’m really interested to see what Davis can add. Taking a flyer here obviously, but would love to think there’s a chance he might be good enough soon enough to start with Bryant with OG at the 3 and Collin off the bench. With Troy?!

  • Fifer39

    Ole man, that’s not like you to think an IU win over just a decent UK is exceptional. Don’t you be mellowing on us now!

  • Fifer39

    The scout sounded pretty cool on TB particularly defensively. Said something like, he’s not a shot blocker so what do you do with him on the defensive end? That’s certainly an area that I’d love to see some development in if he does come back. The scout also acknowledged that many teams were much higher on him and I definitely think someone would take a chance on him in the first round. Hopefully not early enough for his liking though and so he’ll be back.

  • JetpackJunky

    Primarily, I’d say because no one knows the make-up of the teams in the fall. When you have to include multiple “If, then” clauses in your ranking, it’s probably a little early.

  • Fivelefts

    OG had more points in the post than JM.

  • I really disagree.. whether or not a team takes a chance on him is entirely dependent on do they really need a back to the basket
    guy, that can’t block shots, doesn’t defend that well and who else is available that is perceived as a better alternative.. believe me it is in some NBA scouts and general managers best interests to have a whole bunch of choices to consider, on draft day . So a lot of them are going to make it sound good for Bryant.
    I don’t think, he goes first round if he does declare. Believe me there are too many better alternatives. It wouldn’t be the first time a player thought he was first round. and he just kept getting passed over, until mid-second round somewhere.

  • Dunkin’ Depot

    Was thinking the last Kentucky championship…

  • BL

    Same. It’s impossible.

  • BL

    Hey, we could all get more sleep if he’d just come out and say he’s returning. C’mon TB!

  • Missing Moye

    You make a good point about Max. Where would we have been without him this year? I guess we’ll find out next year… As much as I really like Morgan’s game, I don’t want to see him having to consistently try to guard the 5-spot. And I don’t honestly know enough about Davis to know if he can defend that spot or not.

    I think next year will be fine, especially if TB returns. But I think it’s premature to be calling this team top 10-15 next year with the loss of Yogi, and as you pointed out, the lack of depth at the center position.

  • Sghoosier

    I am reading it the same way too. He has now a mission to accomplish at IU after the loss.

    Besides, this time last year he has asking Yogi to stay another year…. its time for him to pay Yogi/IU back!

  • Fifer39

    Well let’s just hope we don’t find out!

  • Ole Man

    LOL! When ya get so old ya can’t outrun trouble anymore, ya better not go stirring up so much!!

  • BL

    DD should be able to guard the 5 better than Max; he’s longer and more athletic. However, experience goes a long way.

  • BL

    Jones and Lamb were sophomores and Darius Miller, a senior, was huge in the tourney.

  • TomJameson

    Remember that Newkirk has been practicing with the team all year, so even if “we” don’t know how they play together, I think that learning curve for JN has already passed. I think your better point is how the players will come back from surgeries. Now that really worries me.

  • Well we found out.. they ain’t even goin’ to have a chance at him…lol..