Freshman Focus: Grant Gelon

“Freshman Focus” is an Inside the Hall series on each of Indiana’s four incoming freshmen. Over the next couple of weeks, we will take an in-depth look at all four newcomers. Today: Grant Gelon.

Crown Point coach Clint Swan was concerned.

As he prepared for the 2015-16 season, his senior leader Grant Gelon was about to face a new level of scrutiny.

After a strong summer with Indiana Elite on the adidas Gauntlet circuit, Gelon received a scholarship offer from Indiana and committed shortly after during an unofficial visit in August. An unheralded, two-star prospect, not only was Gelon going to face questions from Indiana fans about his standing in the recruiting rankings, Swan knew that opposing teams would be lining up all season to take their best shot at an IU recruit.

“I don’t think he was prepared – I don’t think anyone would be prepared – for the attention that was going to come his way,” Swan said. “He definitely had a big bullseye on his back. So we were concerned, to be quite honest with you, we were like, ‘how is this going to go?'”

So, how did it go?

Crown Point, which finished the season 19-9, won four games in the state tournament before falling to Warsaw in the Regional championship.

Individually, Gelon averaged 14.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game and shot 38.9 percent from behind the 3-point line on his way to being named to the Indiana All-Star team.

“He handled it extremely well,” Swan told Inside the Hall. “He continued to stay within the framework of how we wanted him to play. He didn’t try going off on his own. He played extremely hard. He continued to develop himself as a player and he didn’t let all of the attention get to him. It didn’t end up being a negative aspect of his season.”

Gelon has long been known in the Crown Point community school corporation as a shooter. Swan, who is entering his 11th season as the coach at Crown Point, says he became aware of Gelon as he came up through the middle school ranks.

His shooting prowess comes from a combination of a natural gift and countless hours in the gym. It wasn’t uncommon for Swan to have to kick Gelon out of the gym after a Crown Point practice so he could lock up the gym and go home. He would often open the gym so Gelon could come shoot on his own. The shooting gun, which rebounds shots and throws them back automatically, has taken on significant mileage due to Gelon’s use.

“Nobody has worked harder at perfecting that craft than Grant has,” Swan said. “He’s worked very hard at making himself into a better shooter and not just relied on his gift as a shooter alone.”

That work ethic Swan references figures heavily into the equation when you look at the reasons Indiana was the only Big Ten school to offer Gelon a scholarship.

It was a move that was met with skepticism from fans and media alike, but Indiana has a track record with under the radar players with a work ethic. Those who have been most successful in Bloomington under Tom Crean have demonstrated a willingness to put in extra work to reach their potential.

That’s not to say that Gelon should be compared to guys like OG Anunoby or Victor Oladipo – no one should – but the staff clearly believes they can develop him into a rotation player who can provide elite-level shooting.

As the Hoosiers enter another season with a preseason top 15 ranking and significant expectations, Gelon may not figure much into the immediate plans in terms of playing time.

That, however, isn’t necessarily a bad thing in Swan’s eyes.

“I think he can sit and watch and glean from the players that they have there right now and can pick up on not just how to play, but how to carry yourself,” Swan said. “He can learn on a day-to-day basis what the expectations are. I think that’s going to help him immensely.”

It’s likely to be a much different situation than the one that another Crown Point product, Spike Albrecht, faced when he headed off to the Big Ten.

“Compare that to Spike Albrecht when he went to Michigan, they had two point guards,” Swan said. “They had Trey Burke and Spike Albrecht. He was going to have to play and that kind of scared me a little bit. I thought that was sort of alarming that he was going to be called upon to play immediately. I think Grant is going to be able to get acclimated in summer workouts and practices and fall workouts. He’s going to be able to see how those guys carry themselves and see how they play. He’ll be able to bring himself along at a comfortable pace.”

Now that Gelon, along with Devonte Green and Curtis Jones, is in Bloomington, Swan’s hope is that he’s helped him prepare for what lies ahead.

Regardless of how his career turns out in terms of on the floor production, Swan says he wants fans to know how Gelon is viewing the opportunity to put on an IU uniform.

“It’s not something he’s taking for granted. He knows there’s a huge responsibility that comes with it,” he said. “That’s why he’s continued to work extremely hard since our season ended. He’s done everything he could to get himself ready for these summer workouts that he’s going through right now in Bloomington. It’s a badge of honor for him. He’s excited about it. He’s very honored to put on an Indiana uniform.”

POTB 135: The impact of Oladipo to OKC

Podcast on the Brink is back for another 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 edition of the show, Morris and Inside the Hall editor Alex Bozich are joined by Zach McCrite, formerly of The Franchise in Oklahoma City, to discuss the trade of Victor Oladipo to the Thunder.

Among the topics discussed:

· Zach’s reaction to Victor Oladipo being acquired by Oklahoma City
· How Oladipo will impact the Thunder and how he fits into their system
· Kevin Durant’s free agency and how important he is for the Thunder
· How Oladipo compares to Dion Waiters and whether Waiters will be back in OKC
· How the Thunder handles the media and how it will impact Oladipo with the media
· The key areas where Oladipo needs to be ready to make an impact in OKC
· Whether Oladipo can become a star in Oklahoma City
· Does Yogi’s game translate to the NBA?
· The chances for Troy Williams to make it in the NBA

And much, much 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.

(Photo credit: Buda Mendes/Getty Images South America)

Around the Hall: Bryant soaring on 2017 draft boards

Around the Hall is recommended reading from the Inside the Hall crew:

Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com published his “ridiculously early 2017 NBA mock draft,” featuring both Thomas Bryant and OG Anunoby:

5. Los Angeles Lakers
Thomas Bryant, Indiana

Bryant could’ve been a first-round pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. But he decided to spend at least one more year at Indiana. And, I think, he’ll benefit from it.

24. Toronto Raptors
OG Anunoby, Indiana

Anunoby was a lightly regarded recruit coming out of high school, relatively speaking. But most expect the 6-8 wing, who is still only 18 years old, to make a huge leap next season and find himself somewhere high on some franchise’s boards.

The Big Lead also has a super early 2017 mock draft featuring both Bryant and Anunoby:

4. Thomas Bryant, Sophomore, C, Indiana – Only played 22.6 mpg and still put up 11.9 ppg and 5.8 rpg. Not a great rebounder, but there’s a lot to like offensively. Saved his best for Kentucky in March: 19 points.

Chad Ford of ESPN lists Anunoby and Bryant as two of several sophomores to watch in 2017:

Only a small handful of talented players decided to skip the 2016 draft and return to college. Just about everyone with a shot at the first round threw their hat into the ring, thanks in part to the strength of the incoming freshman class. Only one returning college player — Cal’s Ivan Rabb — will be in the first edition of our top 15 for next year.

However, there are a number of interesting returning players — including Syracuse’s Tyler Lydon, Indiana’s Thomas Bryant and OG Anunoby, Kansas’ Carlton Bragg, Duke’s Grayson Allen, USC’s Bennie Boatwright, San Diego State’s Malik Pope and SMU’s Shake Milton — who could all end up in the middle of the first round or possibly higher with excellent seasons.

CSN Mid-Atlantic also includes Bryant in the top 10 of a mock draft for 2017:

No. 7: Thomas Bryant | 6-10 C | Indiana

Bryant is raw, so he probably made the right decision to return to Indiana for his sophomore season. Tremendous motor who outworked Diamond Stone in the lone matchup between Indiana and Maryland this season.

NBC Sports runs through 26 players that NBA draft fans will want to watch next season in college basketball:

6. Thomas Bryant, C, Indiana: Bryant had a good freshman season with Indiana, one where he consistently improved throughout the year. But that was inevitable considering just how bad he was when he got onto campus, especially defensively. He’s 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-6 wingspan and he plays the game hard and emotionally. Seeing just how much the rest of his game develops — defending pick and rolls, low post offensive, shooting stroke — will determine if he’s a first rounder or a lottery pick.

7. O.G. Anunoby, SF, Indiana: He has elite physical tools. He already is a terrific defensive player; ask Jamal Murray. He’s been compared to Victor Oladipo, although he’s about four inches taller than Victor. If he can make the same kind of jump offensively that Oladipo made, the rising sophomore could be a lottery pick.

FoxSports.com looks at six players who could be the No. 1 pick in 2017 NBA draft:

The question with Bryant simply comes down to this: Was his 19-point effort against Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament a one game aberration? Or a sign of what’s to come in 2017?

If it’s an aberration, well, someone will still take Bryant in the lottery next year, based on his 7’0 frame that already carries 250 lbs. and could easily add more weight without losing any quickness or athleticism.

But if it wasn’t an aberration, and instead a sign of what’s to come, look out. Bryant could be a double-double machine next year, and a guy in contention for the first overall pick in 2017.

Troy Williams signs summer league deal with Phoenix

Former Indiana forward Troy Williams, who went undrafted on Thursday night in the 2016 NBA draft at the Barclays Center, has agreed to a summer league deal with the Phoenix Suns.

The 6-foot-7 Williams, who left Indiana early for the NBA following his junior season, will have to play his way onto a roster without a guaranteed contract.

His opportunity will begin in July as he suits up for Phoenix in the Vegas summer league, which runs July 8-18 on the campus of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.

Williams is the fourth player to leave Indiana to play professionally with eligibility remaining under Tom Crean, but the first to go undrafted by the NBA.

Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo were both lottery picks in 2013 and Noah Vonleh was a lottery pick in 2014.

In 99 carer games for the Hoosiers, Williams averaged 11.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game.

Yogi Ferrell signs summer league deal with the Brooklyn Nets

After not being selected in Thursday’s NBA draft, it appears Yogi Ferrell will get an opportunity to play his way into the league with the Brooklyn Nets.

Ferrell’s mother, Dr. Lydia Ferrell, tweeted early Friday morning that the “Brooklyn Nets will soon see that they have a gem. Yogi will continue to rise to the top! Yogi NEVER disappoints!”

Undrafted free agents typically sign deals to play in the summer league with the hopes of securing an invite to training camp in the fall.

Brooklyn opens summer league play on July 9 in Las Vegas. The Nets finished last season just 21-61 and are in the midst of a major rebuild.

The Nets, using the No. 20 pick acquired in a trade that sent Thad Young to the Indiana Pacers, selected Michigan’s Caris LeVert in the first round of Thursday’s draft. Brooklyn also drafted Seton Hall’s Isiah Whitehead in the second round with a pick acquired from the Utah Jazz.

More importantly for Ferrell, Brooklyn’s point guard situation is far from settled.

The team holds a $6.3 million option on Jarrett Jack while Shane Larkin has a player option for $1.5 million. Donald Sloan is a free agent.

The Nets might have the most cap space available of any NBA team this offseason at more than $55 million.

Ferrell, a unanimous all-Big Ten selection as a senior at Indiana, averaged 14.5 points, 4.6 assists and 3.2 rebounds over 137 career games for the Hoosiers.

Victor Oladipo traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder

Former Indiana All-American Victor Oladipo was traded from the Orlando Magic to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday as a part of an NBA draft night deal.

The trade, as reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, sends Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and the rights to the No. 12 pick, Damontas Sabonis, to Oklahoma City in exchange for Serge Ibaka.

Oladipo, who is entering his fourth NBA season, was the No. 2 pick by the Magic in the 2013 NBA draft.

The former IU guard averaged 16 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game last season for Orlando.

Draft Watch: Will Ferrell and Williams get picked?

The wait is over for Yogi Ferrell and Troy Williams. The NBA draft begins tonight at 7 p.m. ET at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and both players are being discussed as potential second round picks.

In our final “draft watch” this year, we take a look at the latest on both players:

Draft Rankings – Williams

DraftExpress Top 100: No. 73 (up three spots since last update)
ESPN Top 100 (Ford): No. 75 (down five spots since last update)
NBADraft.net: No. 55 (down five spots since last update)
CBS Sports (Vecenie): No. 79 (up one spot since last update)

Williams has been absent in most mock drafts and the feedback from an anonymous NBA voice earlier this week in Seth Davis’ column wasn’t encouraging:

“I don’t see it. Plays too fast, doesn’t know who he is as a player. Not a lot of substance there. Awful decision to come out. Very possible he goes undrafted. Good athlete, but a poor shooter and a very low basketball IQ. He’s just out of his mind, he’s so wild. He can do highlight-reel stuff, but for every good play he makes, the next three are gonna be ugly. He’s not a great shooter, but he thinks he is. He’ll have an opportunity to play because of his athleticism and energy, but I don’t think he sticks very long.”

Jay Bilas of ESPN was more bullish on Williams in comments on a conference call on Tuesday afternoon:

“I think Troy Williams is probably going to be at or around the end of the second round. I do think he’s a draftable player because of his athleticism, his ability to run the floor and his ability to finish plays in transition. And I think he can be a good defender because he kind of fits the suit there. He’s got size, he’s not crazy long, but he’s a high-flyer. He’s explosive, he plays with a lot of energy. More of a driver than anything, but really did a good job in transition. Can hit some perimeter shots, but not quite an NBA range 3-point shooter. I think he should be a better defender with his athleticism, but he’s done a good job. I think his value is in the fact that he brings energy, athleticism and he can finish plays. He’s just got to play with a little more efficiency. Not turn the ball over, take better shots, things like that.”

Williams also generated some positive buzz following a workout in Dallas:

Draft Rankings – Ferrell

DraftExpress Top 100: No. 63 (unchanged since last update)
ESPN Top 100 (Ford): No. 76 (up three spots since last update)
NBADraft.net: No. 80 (down seven spots since last update)
CBS Sports (Vecenie): No. 58 (down one spot since last update)

Ferrell’s big board rankings are all over the place as DraftExpress and CBS both have him in the mix for late second round and ESPN and NBADraft.net have him much lower on their boards. The anonymous scout interviewed by Seth Davis was more positive on Ferrell than he was on Williams:

“I like that he got better, especially as a defender. He thinks he belongs. He’s a good shooter, but he’s tiny, and he’s not a dynamic athlete. Good player but not at our level.”

Jay Bilas on Tuesday said he doesn’t have Yogi getting picked because of his size:

“Yogi is a smaller guard. He did a very good job, he kept getting better and better, he can shoot it, good leader. Very good job at creating for himself and for others out of pick-and-roll situations. Gets his shot off quickly. He can shoot it off the catch, shoot it off the dribble. Pretty good in isolation. He’s just not got a lot of size. He’s not a superior athlete and he doesn’t have a lot of size. I do not believe he’s going to get drafted. He wasn’t invited to the (draft) combine. I thought he should have been, but he wasn’t and that’s a pretty good indicator that he’s not high enough up on the draft radar. But like I’ve said about other players, he might be better off not getting drafted. Then he can pick where he goes and have a better opportunity to make a team.”

Sports Illustrated, however, has Ferrell as one of its five draft sleepers:

Considered right on the cusp of some team’s draft boards, Yogi Ferrell will almost certainly be in an NBA training camp next season. He can run a team extremely well at the point guard position. He’s a pit bull on-ball defender. Ferrell has shown a solid shooting stroke as well—he was the only point guard in the NCAA this year to average 17 points and 5.5 assists per game while shooting more than 40% from three-point land. At 6′ 0″, there are warranted defensive concerns about Ferrell around the league. As the playoffs just proved, it’s easy to target smaller perimeter defenders in pick-and-rolls. He’s also already 23 after graduating from Indiana, but Ferrell has been a proven winner and has outperformed many of the higher-ranked point guards on the workout circuit. He’ll either be drafted or his agent’s phone will be buzzing afterward from teams trying to sign him to a small, guaranteed contract to get him on their summer league roster and into camp. Don’t be surprised if he ends up a team’s third point guard on opening night a la T.J. McConnell and Matthew Dellavedova.

Meanwhile, Ferrell said on Wednesday night that he’s hearing he’ll be picked early to mid second round:

POTB 134: Sports media at IU, state of the program

Podcast on the Brink is back for another 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 edition of the show, Morris and Inside the Hall editor Alex Bozich are joined by Dr. Galen Clavio, sports media associate professor and director of the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana, to discuss a variety of topics:

Among them:

· The Cuban Center
· The technological advances fans should expect in the future as a result of the Center
· How the sports journalism experience at IU continues to evolve for students
· The current state of Indiana basketball and last season’s success
· An outlook for next season
· Which player stands out as an x-factor for the 2016-2017 season
· Whether it’s fair for fans to expect more NCAA tournament success

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

If you’re interested in learning more about the media school at Indiana, you can email Dr. Clavio at gclavio2@indiana.edu.

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

Jay Bilas talks draft prospects of Yogi Ferrell, Troy Williams

ESPN college basketball and NBA draft analyst Jay Bilas was available Tuesday afternoon to discuss Thursday’s NBA draft at the Barclays Center. Bilas will be a part of ESPN’s draft coverage along with Rece Davis, Jalen Rose and Mike Wilbon.

Here’s what Bilas had to say about the draft prospects of both Yogi Ferrell and Troy Williams:

On Williams:

“I think Troy Williams is probably going to be at or around the end of the second round. I do think he’s a draftable player because of his athleticism, his ability to run the floor and his ability to finish plays in transition. And I think he can be a good defender because he kind of fits the suit there. He’s got size, he’s not crazy long, but he’s a high-flyer. He’s explosive, he plays with a lot of energy. More of a driver than anything, but really did a good job in transition. Can hit some perimeter shots, but not quite an NBA range 3-point shooter. I think he should be a better defender with his athleticism, but he’s done a good job. I think his value is in the fact that he brings energy, athleticism and he can finish plays. He’s just got to play with a little more efficiency. Not turn the ball over, take better shots, things like that.”

On Ferrell:

“Yogi is a smaller guard. He did a very good job, he kept getting better and better, he can shoot it, good leader. Very good job at creating for himself and for others out of pick-and-roll situations. Gets his shot off quickly. He can shoot it off the catch, shoot it off the dribble. Pretty good in isolation. He’s just not got a lot of size. He’s not a superior athlete and he doesn’t have a lot of size. I do not believe he’s going to get drafted. He wasn’t invited to the (draft) combine. I thought he should have been, but he wasn’t and that’s a pretty good indicator that he’s not high enough up on the draft radar. But like I’ve said about other players, he might be better off not getting drafted. Then he can pick where he goes and have a better opportunity to make a team.”

Around the Hall: Draft discussion, Big Ten TV deal, more

Around the Hall is recommended reading from the Inside the Hall staff.

Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated has his annual pre-NBA draft column featuring feedback from anonymous NBA sources more than 50 prospects. The words on Yogi Ferrell and Troy Williams aren’t particularly kind:

Yogi Ferrell, 6-foot senior guard, Indiana: “I like that he got better, especially as a defender. He thinks he belongs. He’s a good shooter, but he’s tiny, and he’s not a dynamic athlete. Good player but not at our level.”

Troy Williams, 6’7″ junior forward, Indiana: “I don’t see it. Plays too fast, doesn’t know who he is as a player. Not a lot of substance there. Awful decision to come out. Very possible he goes undrafted. Good athlete, but a poor shooter and a very low basketball IQ. He’s just out of his mind, he’s so wild. He can do highlight-reel stuff, but for every good play he makes, the next three are gonna be ugly. He’s not a great shooter, but he thinks he is. He’ll have an opportunity to play because of his athleticism and energy, but I don’t think he sticks very long.

Rob Dauster of NBCSports.com runs through his list of potential breakout lottery picks in college basketball next season:

O.G. Anunoby, Indiana: I’m not sure Anunoby fits the criteria here, considering that he didn’t declare for the draft and spent much of his freshman season playing limited minutes behind Troy Williams. But once Tom Crean realized what he had in Anunoby, he became a integral piece of Indiana’s puzzle. He’s such a talented and versatile defender, if he can make himself into some kind of offensive threat on the perimeter he’ll be a first rounder. If he turns into a guy that can average 15 points and shoot 40 percent from three, he might be a lottery pick.

Jeff Borzello has a summer recruiting road map for Indiana over on ESPN Insider ($):

And that brings us to the big question of the 2017 cycle for Indiana: what will it need 10 months from now? With Durham taking Hartman’s vacated scholarship, the Hoosiers are already at 13 scholarships for the 2017-18 season. However, Blackmon, Anunoby and Bryant could all leave early for the NBA. Blackmon tested the NBA Draft waters this past spring before coming back for another season, while Anunoby and Bryant decided in April to return to Indiana for their sophomore campaign. All three could leave after next season, meaning Crean could need some reinforcements. We’re likely to see the Hoosiers look for big men, given they still lack size up front — as well as a scoring guard or wing, and potentially a pure point guard depending on how the freshman class performs next season.

Teddy Greenstein of The Chicago Tribune writes that Big Ten coaches are excited about the news of the league’s new deal with ESPN:

Delany declined to confirm the deal in a text message to the Tribune, saying the conference was not the source of the SBJ story. Delany said the conference has had “constructive discussions with ESPN” and he hopes to have more to say later in the summer.

A logical time and place for an announcement would be Big Ten football media days July 25-26 in Chicago.

The conference has asked coaches and athletic directors not to comment on the pending deal, but their excitement is palpable — and not just over the prospect of an extra $20 million per year.

“An amazing deal,” one coach called it.

Awful Announcing breaks down what the new Big Ten TV contracts mean for viewers:

For those who watch Big Ten Network, nothing will change, It will still carry 35-40 football games and 60-65 in-conference basketball games and selected tournaments games. Fox has 51% ownership of the Big Ten Network, but now by getting half of the main Big Ten contract it adds to its college sports portfolio and brings some big games to FS1.

As for ESPN/ABC, you won’t watch the major football and basketball games after this season. Starting with the 2017-18 season and going through 2022-23, the ESPN family won’t be the main network for the Big Ten. That now shifts to Fox which will have first pick of the football games for much of the season. In addition to keeping the Big Ten Football Championship, expect to see games like Michigan-Ohio State, Michigan-Michigan State and other big conference games on Fox/FS1. ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC will continue to air Big Ten football, but ESPNU which carried its share of conference football games will see a reduced schedule to almost none.