2016-2017 Player Profile: OG Anunoby

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

Indiana ranked No. 12 in preseason coaches poll

The Indiana Hoosiers will begin the 2016-2017 season ranked in the USA Today coaches poll.

The preseason poll, released earlier today, has Indiana slotted at No. 12. Four other Big Ten teams are ranked: Michigan State (No. 9), Wisconsin (No. 10), Purdue (No. 15) and Maryland (No. 21).

Ohio State and Michigan both received votes.

The Hoosiers are ranked preseason No. 12 by Athlon Sports, No. 13 by The Sporting News and No. 18 by Blue Ribbon.

Kansas, who Indiana will play in the Armed Forces Classic, is ranked No. 2. Other Indiana non-conference opponents in the preseason top 25 include North Carolina (No. 6) and Louisville (No. 14). Butler, Indiana’s opponent in the Crossroads Classic, received votes.

Duke is the unanimous No. 1 in the poll.

The complete poll is available here.

2016-2017 Player Profile: Juwan Morgan

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 Juwan Morgan.

Thomas Bryant and OG Anunoby are the talk of Indiana’s sophomore class, but Juwan Morgan appears ready to make a major leap forward in his second season for the Hoosiers.

Jon Crispin of BTN recently said that “people don’t realize how good Juwan Morgan is.” It might not be long before Indiana fans find out as Morgan is close to being cleared for contact following offseason shoulder surgery.

“He’s gotten a lot better,” Anunoby said of his teammate who he’s known since middle school. “He’s shooting the ball really well. He’s more athletic. He’s a good leader, too.”

The shoulder surgery was to correct an injury that dated back to Morgan’s prep career at Waynesville (Mo.) High School and flared up frequently during the 2015-2016 season.

The shoulder injury didn’t cause Morgan to miss significant court time, but it did knock him out of several games down the stretch last season. Each time, Morgan would return to the floor the next game and continue battling through the pain.

“I felt 100 percent two or three months ago,” Morgan said Thursday. “But that’s probably why I’m not the doctor. They said (I’ll be cleared) maybe within the next week or less.”

Now a sophomore with the injury behind him, Morgan looks primed to take on a bigger role. As a freshman, he made 53.3 percent of his 2s and 45.5 percent of his 3s (in limited attempts).

This season, particularly with the recent injury to Collin Hartman, Morgan should have the opportunity to take on a larger role offensively while also continuing to serve as one of Indiana’s main catalysts defensively.

Like Anunoby, Morgan’s length and athleticism allows him to guard multiple positions. And his ball skills were solid enough last season to earn him spot minutes handling the ball when Yogi Ferrell was out of the game due to limited guard depth.

“He works so much in practice,” Bryant said. “He’s one of the real reasons that I’m getting better each and every day. When the season comes, people are going to be very surprised at what Juwan can do. A lot of people are just sleeping on him, he’s going to be able to wake up a lot of people.”

Bottom Line: Morgan earned the respect of everyone who followed Indiana basketball last season with the toughness he displayed throughout the season. His arm was literally left dangling off of his shoulder on multiple occasions, but Morgan simply kept working through the pain to continue contributing to IU’s late season success. His ball handling is solid for a 6-foot-8 forward and he showed off a shooting stroke last year that suggests he could become one of the team’s better 3-point shooters. While he might not be receiving the national recognition of Anunoby and Bryant, he’ll be an important part of Indiana’s frontcourt from both a production and leadership standpoint.

Quotable: “We have to make defense our identity. We can’t be lackadaisical on that side (of the ball). The points will come with good defense. Everybody loves scoring points and the more you play defense, the more run outs you get, the more easy baskets you get. I know everybody loves doing that, so if they love doing that, they have to love playing defense, too.” – Morgan on the key to Indiana starting the season strong defensively

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

Hartman not ruling out a return this season

Indiana senior forward Collin Hartman isn’t ready to declare that he’ll miss the entire 2016-2017 season.

Speaking to the media for the first time since undergoing surgery for a non-contact injury to his left knee, Hartman didn’t rule out a return the floor this season.

He wasn’t, however, ready to discuss any of the details pertaining to his injury or the procedure he underwent last month.

“Obviously I would love to be back,” Hartman said. “Who knows when I’ll be back. Early (season), late, middle, I don’t know. I just have to stay focused and literally take it day-by-day. If I look too far ahead, I’ll get disappointed with where I’m at.”

The lone senior on Indiana’s roster, Hartman was injured on Tuesday, Sept. 20 during a drill during an individual workout. He underwent surgery on Monday, Sept. 26.

The rehabilitation process is already well underway for Hartman. Indiana coach Tom Crean recently said that he’s already been doing some stationary shooting.

“I’ve been shooting a little bit, not a lot,” Hartman said. “I’ve been slowly working my way back into things. I don’t want to rush back because re-injuring, I would hate that obviously. Just stay with what Timmy G (Tim Garl) and all the doctors are saying with rehab and just staying focused.”

This isn’t the first injury Hartman will have to overcome in his Indiana career.

Following his freshman season, he suffered a torn ACL in his right knee after planting his knee wrong in a drill. He subsequently missed Indiana’s trip to Montreal in August of 2014, but returned as a sophomore to play in 32 of Indiana’s 34 games.

Hartman’s mom, Melissa, recently underwent a seventh knee surgery just a few days prior to his injury occurring.

“We were at home for a few days together (after surgery),” Hartman said. “We would yell between rooms.

“I call her in the morning sometimes just to be like, ‘how are you doing? what are you doing in rehab today?’ Just keep her spirits up, too, because if I’m focusing on somebody else it makes my process easier.”

If Hartman is unable to play this season, Crean said recently that a medical redshirt would be a possibility.

“Long-term if it gets to that, yeah, absolutely, but again, he’s a senior,” Crean said on Sept. 30. “It’s got to be something that down the road he would want — it’s too early — it’s very — you can speculate the moment it happens, right, but it’s too early to put real timeline on exactly how he responds because he is a senior. Let’s see how responds to the rehabilitation. But that certainly, that would be on the table for sure down the road.”

Video: Indiana preseason media availability

Nearly every Indiana player was made available on Wednesday afternoon at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in advance of Saturday’s Hoosier Hysteria.

Inside the Hall was there and caught up with every scholarship player who was available, plus Zach McRoberts. Interviews with each player are available below:

Anunoby named to preseason watch list for Julius Erving Award

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced the preseason watch list for the 2017 Julius Erving Award, which honors the nation’s top small forward, on Wednesday.

Indiana sophomore OG Anunoby was one of three Big Ten players named to the 20-player list along with Ohio State’s Jae’Sean Tate and Purdue’s Vince Edwards.

The complete watch list, per a release, is available below:

Evan Bradds, Belmont
Kelan Martin, Butler
Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson
Terry Larrier, Connecticut
Jayson Tatum, Duke
Dwayne Bacon, Florida St.
OG Anunoby, Indiana
Deng Adel, Louisville
Justin Jackson, North Carolina
VJ Beachem, Notre Dame
Jae’Sean Tate, Ohio St.
Dillon Brooks, Oregon
Tres Tinkle, Oregon St.
Vince Edwards, Purdue
Dikembe Dixson, UIC
Kevin Hervey, UT Arlington
Jalen Moore, Utah St.
Josh Hart, Villanova
Markis McDuffie, Wichita St.
Trevon Bluiett, Xavier

POTB 146: Jon Crispin of BTN

Podcast on the Brink is back for a new episode with host Jerod Morris of The Assembly Call. The show is currently available weekly. You can access a full archive of episodes here.

In this week’s edition of the show, Morris and Inside the Hall editor Alex Bozich are joined by one of our favorite guests and friend of the show, BTN analyst Jon Crispin.

Among the topics discussed:

· Crispin’s impressions from Indiana’s televised practice
· Thoughts on sophomore OG Anunoby and why his upside is limitless
· What is different about James Blackmon Jr. this season
· Whether a point guard by committee approach can work
· How Thomas Bryant has developed over the offseason
· Other standouts from the IU practice
· The top four Big Ten teams going into the season
· Which team Jon believes could move into the top tier of the league
· Jon’s thoughts on Nigel Hayes as Big Ten preseason player of the year

And plenty more. As always, feel free to drop the show a note at jerod@assemblycall.com.

Listen in the audio player below, download the episode, subscribe via iTunes or subscribe to the RSS feed.

2016-2017 Player Profile: De’Ron Davis

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 De’Ron Davis.

Indiana ran a marathon in its recruitment of four-star forward De’Ron Davis and won the race.

The Hoosiers began tracking Davis as a freshman at Overland High School when he was ranked as one of the nation’s top five players. And even when Davis slipped in the national rankings, the IU staff was still there as other schools tapered off.

“He was able to build a relationship with them through adversity,” Danny Fisher, Overland’s coach, told Inside the Hall this summer. “When you have an opportunity to do that, it’s real.”

Indiana’s persistence with Davis paid off last November when the Hoosiers won his commitment after it appeared Mississippi State may swoop in and nab him at the last minute. Davis cited his long standing relationship with the Indiana coaching staff as the primary reason behind his decision.

“They knew what kind of player I was, they knew what I could bring to the program,” Davis explained. “Family always sticks together and I’m a big family guy. That really stood out to me.”

As a senior at Overland, Davis led Overland to a second straight Class 5A state title. He finished his prep career with 442 blocked shots.

He didn’t arrive in Bloomington until late August as he worked to finish up academic requirements in Colorado, but Davis should immediately find himself in IU’s rotation.

At 6-foot-10, Davis could back up Thomas Bryant or play alongside him at times, depending on the opponent.

“He’s been great. Always willing to learn, asks questions and listens,” Bryant said last week at Big Ten media day. “He listens when we tell him he needs to do something. He tries, he works very hard.”

Assuming he’s 100 percent healthy – a wrist injury in the spring and an Achilles injury this fall are two setbacks he’s had to deal with – Davis is a player that should continue to improve as the season moves along.

Despite the injury to Collin Hartman, the Hoosiers have some depth up front with Bryant, Juwan Morgan and OG Anunoby, which should allow Davis to come along at a comfortable pace.

Bottom Line: Davis was an important recruit for Indiana for several reasons. Indiana put a ton of time into him going all the way back to his freshman year of high school, when then-assistant coach Steve McClain began laying the ground work. While he wasn’t ultimately a five-star recruit, he has a chance to be a difference maker. He’s got excellent footwork and fundamentals for a player his size, but will need to improve his explosiveness and athleticism. Indiana’s defense should benefit from having Davis around the rim as he’s an above average shot blocker and rebounder.

Quotable: “I think at the end of his freshman year, midway through his freshman year, we’re going to see a completely different player. He’s truly going to see what he’s capable of. It’s going to make everybody go back and look at those rankings and say ‘how did we miss on this kid?’ Because De’Ron is a kid who gets better through adversity and when he’s challenged.” – Fisher on Davis and how he expects him to develop this season.

Previously: Devonte Green, Grant Gelon, Curtis Jones

Four-star Tremont Waters to announce decision on Wednesday

Class of 2017 Notre Dame-West Haven (Conn.) point guard Tremont Waters is ready to announce his college decision.

According to Joe Morelli of the New Haven Register, Waters will announce on Wednesday afternoon at the Farnam House in New Haven. The announcement is expected at approximately 4 p.m. ET.

The 5-foot-11 guard is ranked the No. 37 prospect nationally according to the 247Composite.

Waters took official visits to Georgetown, Kentucky, Indiana and Kansas. Most recently, he took an unofficial visit to Georgetown for Hoya Madness.

The Indiana recruiting target averaged 15.4 points, 5.2 assists, five rebounds and 1.4 steals per game in July in the Nike EYBL Finals at the Peach Jam.

Blackmon Jr. named to preseason watch list for Jerry West Award

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced the preseason watch list for the 2017 Jerry West Award, which honors the nation’s top shooting guard, on Tuesday.

Indiana junior James Blackmon Jr. was one of four Big Ten players named to the 20-player list along with Iowa’s Peter Jok, Malcolm Hill of Illinois and Michigan State’s Eron Harris.

The complete watch list, per a release, is available below:

Allonzo Trier, Arizona
Dusty Hannahs, Arkansas
Nick Emery, BYU
Jacob Evans, Cincinnati
Charles Cooke, Dayton
Grayson Allen, Duke
Jordan Mathews, Gonzaga
Malcolm Hill, Illinois
James Blackmon Jr., Indiana
Peter Jok, Iowa
Devonte’ Graham, Kansas
Malik Monk, Kentucky
Antonio Blakeney. LSU
Donovan Mitchell, Louisville
Eron Harris, Michigan State
Elijah Brown, New Mexico
Tyler Dorsey, Oregon
E.C. Matthews, Rhode Island
Shake Milton, SMU
Isaac Hamilton, UCLA