2016-2017 Player Profile: OG Anunoby

  • 10/21/2016 8:28 am in

With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’re taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster this month. Today, we continue our look at Indiana’s roster with OG Anunoby.

Heading into his freshman season, few knew of 6-foot-8 wing OG Anunoby. An unheralded recruit from Jefferson City, Missouri, he was widely considered an afterthought in IU’s 2015 recruiting class, ranked far lower than both Thomas Bryant and Juwan Morgan.

Through last year’s nonconference slate, Anunoby had logged just 100 minutes on the court. In those 13 games, Anunoby never scored more than six points or played more than 17 minutes.

When Big Ten play started, something clicked, and Anunoby began to blossom. He started off the conference schedule posting consecutive career-highs, scoring eight at Rutgers and 11 at Nebraska. In a road game against Michigan State, Anunoby had the Breslin Center awestruck when he dunked over Kenny Goins.

“His work ethic is second to none,” Juwan Morgan said of OG Anunoby on Wednesday. “Every time I’m in [Assembly Hall], OG is in here. Before practice, OG is in here. I knew it was just a matter of time before he really understood what he could do and applied it to the court.”

In the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Anunoby effortlessly threw down a 360-degree dunk against Chattanooga on his way to a career night, finishing the blowout victory with 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting and adding two steals an assist and a rebound.

Two days later, he shut down Kentucky’s Jamal Murray, helping the Hoosiers reach the Sweet 16. The nation had taken notice.

Anunoby is now widely regarded as the top NBA prospect in the Big Ten and is one of 20 members of the preseason Julius Erving watch list, an award given annually to the best small forward in college basketball.

“I guess it’s nice,” Anunoby said. “But it doesn’t mean anything. The season hasn’t started. We haven’t played any games yet.”

Anunoby says he’s spent the offseason with an increased focus on ball handling, shooting and growing as a leader.

“Just talking everything out,” Anunoby said. “Communicating really, that’s the big thing. Switches, defensive positioning, offense, who’s going to post. All that stuff.”

If the comments from his teammates are any indication, OG Anunoby could continue rising up draft boards and piling up accolades.

“People will see when the season starts how much OG has improved.” Thomas Bryant said Wednesday. He’s a key focal point for our team. He has improved so much since last year. I just can’t wait for people to see it.”

Bottom Line: Anunoby hasn’t come anywhere near reaching his potential yet. His stats per 40 minutes as a freshman were outstanding: 14.2 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 2.2 blocks while shooting 61 percent from inside the arc and 45 percent from beyond it. The sample size, however, was simply too small to make any declarative statements. But if he continues his upward ascent while maintaining efficient shooting numbers and lockdown defense, the Big Ten better watch out.

Quotable: “He’s starting to use his body to his advantage. When he has a smaller player on him, he’ll put him down in the post. He’ll go down in the post more often. Also, he’s more efficient from three-point range. Me and (Anunoby) go head-to-head almost every time we play basketball. Clashing together, iron sharpens iron, and he’s getting so much better out there. He’s taking full advantage out on the court.”  – Thomas Bryant at Big Ten media day.

Previously: Devonte Green, Grant Gelon, Curtis Jones, De’Ron Davis, Juwan Morgan

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  • sarge

    OG OG OG! So happy with last year’s class. It was everything we had hoped for. I can see this year’s class of freshman impressing as well. I can’t wait to see this team at full strength. Let’s get healthy, have some fun and take some names. Hoosiers!

  • TomJameson

    This is going to be a very fun season. I just want the team to relax, have fun, and play to their potential. I seriously hope the fan base expectations don’t overwhelm them individually, or as a team, and make them try to force things.

  • BL4IU

    If you stop that dunk video at OG’s highest point both elbows are nearly on the rim, truly incredible for a kid that’s pushing 240 lbs. He MAY have some uneasy moments getting use to the spotlight but come BIG season I’m highly confident he’ll be living up to the hype, and that will include showing off some serious offense.

  • sarge

    That dunk over Goins was amazing! At 0:22, check the guys reaction just left of OG’s face. Even MSU fans knew that was nasty! That is incredible lift off – his head was almost at the rim. If he has been working on his handle and shot in the offseason, look out! This guy could be off the charts this season. Throw in JM and TB and defenses will have to be honest, even if he is the hunted instead of the hunter this year. I don’t think any of the guys he will be matched up against are going to enjoy the experience.

  • HoosierStuckInKY

    We would NEVER do that!

  • CreamandCrimson

    As Joe Maddon said before the current pressure-packed Cubs season: “Never permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure”.

    That’s much easier said than done but I’m with you and I am going to try and do my best, as I did last season (with varying degrees of success), to take each game as it happens and evaluate what occurred during those 40 minutes of game action. Doing that as opposed to applying every result to some larger picture narrative or “state of the program” makes sense to me and it made for a more enjoyable experience for me. Hopefully the coaches can do a good job in helping the players embrace the expectations without letting them become overwhelmed by them.

    As for the story…I cannot wait to see the progress OG has made and the impact he’ll have on the floor this season. He was a pleasure to watch last season and I’m sure he will be once again this time around. Who will he be matched up with each game defensively and how much of a force can he be on that end? How much has his offensive game evolved? Can he replicate and help replace the rebounding we lost with Troy’s departure? Who injects the energy off the bench that OG provided last season? So many questions but everything I have heard from people that have seen OG play during the offseason has me very, very excited.

  • HoosierStuckInKY

    I know it has to be hard interviewing OG, but I kinda like how he gets to the point. He doesn’t add in fluff or nonsense or coach-speak.

    “Did you expect to be this good as a sophomore?”
    “Yeah, I worked hard.” lol Love it.

  • BL4IU

    Yeah, while OG will become “the hunted”, the good news is teams have plenty of his pals to worry about. Put extra emphasis on stopping OG and JBJ, RJ, TB, JM etc. will go off.

  • sarge

    Is there anything not to like about OG?

  • HoosierStuckInKY

    The fact that he probably won’t stay for all four years. But that’s kinda like saying that your greatest weakness is that you work too much during your job interview.

    Maybe he could have a more aerodynamic hairstyle? Although if he ever cut it he’d be dunking over people with his shoulders above the rim. And we just can’t have that. The NCAA would find a way to fine him on some trumped up charges.

  • sarge

    I guess we got to love em while we have em. That goes for a few guys on this roster too, not only OG. Can you imagine how many will be drafted if we win it all come March and April. I would be ecstatic, until next year when many of my beloved Hoosiers are playing in different uni’s. I can’t wait to see my guys in action against Kansas. I have a feeling that the 11th of November will go down as one of the slowest days of my life, until 9pm.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    I can’t wait to watch him play this year!!

  • Alan H

    The thing I like best about Crean and his staff is that they continue to find passionate hard working kids who other programs overlooked or didn’t need and that once those kids are here they grow and improve as players and often as people. Olapido, OG, Zeisloft, Bielfeldt, Hartman, R Johnson, even Holt (if he hadn’t crapped out for other reasons) come easily to mind. Seriously, can you imagine what Michigan was thinking as they saw Max play last season. This year I expect Newkirk and Morgan to be the breakout players. I’m looking forward to a front court of Bryant, OG and Morgan. That should be fun to watch.

  • HoosierStuckInKY

    Totally agree. Looking at the current roster, I wouldn’t be surprised if most of those guys end up playing professionally someday. Either NBA or overseas. If they can stay healthy, I’d say at least 9 of them would at least have the opportunity to go pro. That’s a pretty amazing statement especially considering where the team has been in the last decade. IU is definitely trending in the right direction.

  • Gregory Spera

    Fan expectations could never outsize OG Anunoby’s infinite potential.
    You silly mortals still have know idea what you’re dealing with here…
    To quote the late, great Jim Croce, “You don’t tug on Superman’s cape.”
    It’s almost time to fly.

  • sarge

    You don’t spit into the wind
    You don’t pull the mask off that old lone ranger
    And you don’t mess around with OG Anunoby

  • Lance76

    Bielfeldt being released was such a head scratcher. Every time he hit a three, I felt like calling Ann Arbor and saying “did you just see that?”

  • dwdkc

    Those 3 are becoming one of my all time favorite IU classes. Bring home a banner and they go to #1

  • dwdkc

    Guys who had to play against Vic in 2013 described it as a nightmare. I think OG will be a similar matchup. That kind of quickness with his stronger body this year and the instincts–will be intimidating

  • Normally, I’d be really, really worried about a kid’s mindset with all this attention. But I’ve never seen a kid who’s as unaffected by things as OG. I’d tend to say he’s “shy” or something, but then he throws down a 360-degree slam on a break in the NCAA tourney. So, not “shy,” exactly. What I refer back to, though, is a statement he made during a post-game interview last season, something like, “I’m just a basketball player.” I really think that’s it for OG–he doesn’t care about the accolades or the limelight or any of that. Kid is just a basketball player.

  • BL4IU

    Calm, cool and collected. Big kudos to his parents.