POTB 131: Verdell Jones

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 former Indiana guard Verdell Jones to discuss his time in Bloomington and life as a professional basketball player.

Among the topics discussed:

· The Christian Watford shot and whether he still thinks about it today
· Verdell’s professional journey and where his career has taken him
· His decision to play in the D-League this past season rather than overseas
· The connection that brought him to the Santa Cruz Warriors, the D-League affiliate of the Golden State Warriors
· Life in the D-League and what it’s like versus professional leagues in Europe and Japan
· How he would advise a player leaving early that had to choose between Europe and the D-League
· What it was like his first three seasons at Indiana when the program was struggling
· The pivotal win during the 2011-2012 campaign that was a springboard for the season
· How difficult it was to lose the end of his senior season due to injury
· The toughest Big Ten road environment to play in
· Verdell’s thoughts on the upcoming NBA Finals

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.

Offseason storylines: How will Indiana replace Yogi Ferrell?

Welcome to offseason storylines, a look into some of the biggest storylines surrounding the 2016-2017 Indiana Hoosiers. First up, a look at the point guard position going into next season and a question to ponder: How will Indiana replace Yogi Ferrell?

As you saw in our latest post with several updated preseason top 25s for next season, the national media is bullish on Indiana next season.

And there is certainly plenty to like. The Hoosiers return a solid nucleus of talent – including a potential Big Ten player of the year candidate in Thomas Bryant – from a team that won the conference title outright by two games and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.

But there’s a major question lingering as Indiana enters June, the month when the incoming freshmen arrive on campus and offseason workouts commence. How will Indiana replace Yogi Ferrell?

Over the last four seasons, Ferrell owned the point guard position in Bloomington. He assumed the starting position from the time he arrived on campus as a highly touted McDonald’s All-American in the summer of 2012. Ferrell started all 137 games he played in an IU uniform and set a program record for assists with 633. He also leaves as Indiana’s sixth all-time leading scorer and second in career 3-point field goals made.

Not only was Ferrell an elite distributor who made his teammates better, no other Hoosier was as dangerous in transition, in the pick-and-roll or in isolation. As a senior, Ferrell struck a solid balance between scoring and distributing with a solid cast surrounding him.

He had more than half of Indiana’s possessions (179 of 351) as the ball handler in pick-and-roll situations, according to Synergy Sports. Ferrell scored .84 points per possession in those situations, ranking him in the 72nd percentile nationally.

In the Big Ten, only Maryland’s Melo Trimble, Penn State’s Shep Garner and Northwestern’s Bryant McIntosh had as many possessions as the ball handler in the pick-and-roll as Ferrell and none of them scored it as efficiently as he did. Of those returning to Indiana’s roster next season, only Robert Johnson (37) and James Blackmon Jr. (21) had more than 10 possessions in the pick-and-roll as the ball handler. Blackmon Jr. managed .81 points per possession and Johnson scored just .27 points per possession.

Ferrell was also a big part of Indiana’s transition offense as he was one of just five players in the league with more than 100 possessions on the break last season. In 115 transition possessions last season, he scored 137 points for 1.19 points per possession. That was more efficient than Troy Williams, who led Big Ten players with 129 transition possessions (1.08 PPP). Johnson scored 45 points in 47 transition possessions. Blackmon Jr. was excellent in transition with 61 points in 46 possessions, but those numbers are just over the team’s first 13 games.

Ferrell used 68 of Indiana’s 151 isolation possessions last season and ranked in the 93rd percentile nationally at 1.09 points per possession. No other Big Ten player scored as efficiently in those situation as Ferrell, according to Synergy Sports.

The defensive impact of Ferrell will also be difficult to replace. He was an all-league defender last season and often guarded the opponent’s best perimeter player. The role of defensive stopper is one that Johnson should be able to grow into in his third season in Bloomington.

Out of necessity, Indiana’s play at the point guard position, and most likely its offense, is going to look much different in 2016-2017.

Pittsburgh transfer Josh Newkirk will be the most natural point guard on the roster, but doesn’t pack the scoring punch that Ferrell delivered. Johnson was recruited as a combo guard, but has plenty of room to grow with his decision making to be considered a reliable point guard. And Blackmon Jr. needs to prove he can handle the position if he has NBA aspirations, but is a score-first guard.

The coaching staff has been positive with its comments on Newkirk, a former 3-star recruit who played mostly off the bench for two seasons under Jamie Dixon at Pitt. He’s coming off of microfracture surgery, but has been practicing since early this year. He had elite quickness before the injury, but had a major dip in production as a sophomore. After posting the sixth best offensive rating of any player in the ACC as a freshman, he made less than 30 percent of his 3s and just 42.4 percent of his 2s as a sophomore. He also turned it over on 21.7 percent of his possessions as a sophomore. And while their games are different, those numbers aren’t far off from what Verdell Jones produced for IU as a senior (44.6 2PFG%, 30.3 3PFG% and a 27.3 TO%).

Although he posted a much-improved offensive rating of 115.1 as a sophomore (up from 101.1 as a freshman), Johnson was also inconsistent as a ball handler as a sophomore. He turned it over on 24.7 percent of his possession in Big Ten play, the highest of any rotation player. If point guard is going to be Johnson’s primary position next season, that number must come down.

Like Newkirk, Blackmon Jr. is coming off of an injury and nothing in his statistical profile from his first two seasons suggests he’s going to be a player who creates offense for others regularly. Blackmon Jr. had a significantly lower assist rate than Ferrell, Johnson and Stanford Robinson as a freshman and was below Ferrell, Johnson and Troy Williams last season.

The Hoosiers also welcome a pair of freshman guards in Curtis Jones and Devonte Green, who are both considered combo guards and could see time with the ball in their hands.

But without its definitive floor leader in Ferrell – one of the nation’s most efficient guards and IU’s best player – the focus of the offense is also likely to shift.

Despite the misinformed opinion of some that Indiana has struggled to properly utilize a big man under Tom Crean, the Hoosiers are likely to feature a big man as the focal point offensively in 2016-2017 as they shift away from the Ferrell era. In 2011-12 and 2012-13, Cody Zeller used the most possessions of any IU player and that title is likely to go to Thomas Bryant in 2016-17.

Featuring Bryant first, along with the continued development of O.G. Anunoby and Juwan Morgan plus the arrival of De’Ron Davis, should help Indiana to generate more points from its frontcourt.

However, that doesn’t erase the fact that the Hoosiers are going to need a reliable ball handler and distributor to facilitate for those up front. How that comes about is still up in the air as there are question marks about how capably both Newkirk and Johnson can man the position.

Neither is going to be able to replace the offensive or defensive production of Ferrell, but it’s important that one (or both) can command and run the offense while also taking care of the ball. Indiana won’t be able to replace Ferrell next season, but to meet expectations, the Hoosiers need someone to emerge as the answer at point guard.

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

With last Wednesday’s deadline to withdraw for the NBA draft, updated top 25s for the 2016-2017 college basketball season are beginning to trickle out.

In recent weeks, we’ve learned plenty about Indiana’s roster for next season. Troy Williams is off to the NBA draft, but OG Anunoby, Thomas Bryant and James Blackmon Jr. are all staying in Bloomington. Freddie McSwain joined the five-man 2016 recruiting class. And the Hoosiers had just one transfer – walk-on Harrison Niego.

Here’s a look at where the Hoosiers stand in several updated preseason top 25s for the 2016-2017 season:

Eamonn Brennan of ESPN.com: No. 11

The biggest announcement of Indiana’s offseason came long before May 25. For months, it seemed certain freshman centerThomas Bryant, a potential first-round pick, would be done after one. Not so much. Bryant’s return was the cornerstone, an implicit guarantee of baseline success. From there, IU had two more decisions to resolve. By May 25, both were foregone conclusions: James Blackmon Jr., still recovering from injury and merely gathering NBA info, was always going to return, and Troy Williams was determined to stay in, long-shot projections be damned. Even so, Blackmon and Robert Johnson will let Tom Crean surround his elite big man with another ball-moving, pace-pushing perimeter, and the result should be as fun as ever.

Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo! Sports: No. 8

Outlook: Indiana emerged as one of the big early-entry period winners because the Hoosiers lost only one of their four potential draft prospects. Yes, they said goodbye to the talented but erratic Williams. But keeping Bryant, Anunoby and Blackmon was huge, especially considering Bryant showed enough as a freshman that he likely would have been taken in the first round and Anunoby had flashed enough raw potential to be a potential second-round flier for a franchise willing to develop him. With those two back, Indiana’s strength should be in the frontcourt, as Hartman, Morgan and the promising freshman Davis are also 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.

Rob Dauster of NBCSports.com: No. 14

Why they’re here: The Hoosiers are another team that is very up in the air at this point, even with Thomas Bryant back in the fold. Blackmon and Anunoby should be key, but Williams’ loss hurts and Yogi’s graduation is a massive void.

Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com: No. 11

It’s always difficult to project how a team will respond to losing a top-shelf point guard like Yogi Ferrell. But there are enough good pieces returning at Indiana — Thomas Bryant, OG Anunoby, James Blackman, etc., — to make it reasonable to expect the Hoosiers to not slip much, if at all, especially if Pitt transfer Josh Newkirk is as solid as Tom Crean’s staff believes.

247Sports.com: No. 17

Yogi Ferrell (graduation) and Troy Williams (early entry) are both gone, but OG Anunoby, Collin Hartman and Thomas Bryant should make up one heck of a frontcourt. James Blackmon returns as a high-level scorer, and Pitt transfer Josh Newkirk is eligible and waiting for Ferrell’s spot.

The Big Lead: No. 10

The good news – star center Thomas Bryant is back. The bad – Troy Williams went to the NBA. Depending on what Hoosiers fans you talk to, there’s no bad news there. Anyway, OG Anunoby and James Blackmon should be difference-makers, but this team really needs a point guard, but replacing Yogi Ferrell is going to be impossible.

Big Ten Power Rankings: Offseason edition

It’s May and more than five months separate us from the opening of the 2016-2017 season, but it’s never a bad time to check in on the Big Ten landscape.

Here’s our first stab at forecasting next season’s conference standings with last season’s records in parenthesis:

14. Rutgers (7-25, 1-17)

· Returning: Corey Sanders, Mike Williams, Deshawn Freeman, Jonathan Laurent, Ibrahima Diallo, Shaquille Dorson, Nigel Johnson (Kansas State transfer becomes eligible)
· Arriving: Issa Thiam, Matt Bullock, Candido Sa
· Departing: Bishop Daniels (graduation), Jalen Hyde (graduation), Omari Grier (graduation), Greg Lewis (graduation), D.J. Foreman (transfer), Justin Goode (transfer)

· Outlook: Bleak. Can we stop there? Steve Pikiell inherits a mess and even if he does an excellent job from day one with the Scarlet Knights, Rutgers has a long way to become a competitive Big Ten program. There are some pieces to work with on the roster – namely Corey Sanders and Deshawn Freeman – but Rutgers has won three league games over the past two seasons. A transformation is Piscataway, if it is going to happen, won’t come overnight.

13. Minnesota (8-23, 2-16)

· Returning: Nate Mason, Jordan Murphy, Dupree McBryer, Ahmad Gilbert, Bakary Konate, Charles Buggs, Stephon Sharp, Gaston Diedhiou, Davonte Fitzgerald (Texas A&M transfer becomes eligible), Reggie Lynch (Illinois State transfer becomes eligible)
· Arriving: Amir Coffey (247Composite top 100), Eric Curry, Michael Hurt, Akeem Springs (graduate transfer from Milwaukee)
· Departing: Joey King (graduation), Kevin Dorsey (transfer), Carlos Morris (dismissed/graduation)

· Outlook: The Minnesota program is a mess. From a sex-tape scandal last season to Lynch’s arrest on suspension of criminal sexual conduct to Richard Pitino’s ludicrous contract buyout, Gopher fans are probably longing for the days of Tubby Smith. Minnesota was an abysmal offensive team last season (278th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency) and unless that changes dramatically, the Gophers will be playing on the first day of the Big Ten tournament.

12. Illinois (15-19, 5-13)

· Returning: Malcolm Hill, Aaron Jordan, Tracy Abrams, D.J. Williams, Jalen Coleman-Lands, Leron Black (suspended for six games), Jaylon Tate, Maverick Morgan, Michael Finke, Mike Thorne (granted medical hardship waiver), Alex Austin, Kipper Nichols (Tulane transfer becomes eligible)
· Arriving: Tejon Lucas
· Departing: Kendrick Nunn (dismissed), Khalid Lewis (graduation), Mike LaTulip (transfer)

· Outlook: Illinois is another Big Ten program in disarray. The loss of Nunn is substantial because of his talent, but you have to commend new athletic director Josh Wittman for showing him the door after pleading guilty to domestic battery. Malcolm Hill could be an All-Big Ten first team guy, but there are a lot of question marks in Champaign. Will Thorne be healthy? Is Coleman-Lands ready for a sophomore leap? Will Black be a factor in the frontcourt? And most importantly, how will John Groce handle the pressure of coaching a season where his job is clearly on the line?

11. Northwestern (20-12, 8-10)

· Returning: Bryant McIntosh, Nathan Taphorn, Scottie Lindsey, Vic Law, Dererk Pardon, Gavin Skelly, Jordan Ash
· Arriving: Rapolas Ivanauskas, Barret Benson, Isiah Brown
· Departing: Alex Olah (graduation), Tre Demps (graduation), Joey Van Zegeren (graduation), Johnnie Vassar (transfer)

· Outlook: Chris Collins is assembling talent in Evanston, but the Wildcats have to replace Demps and Olah, which won’t be easy. McIntosh is one of the league’s best guards and Law is a potential breakout star, but who is going to man the paint against the league’s elite big men? It’s a question Northwestern must answer.

10. Penn State (16-16, 7-11)

· Returning: Shep Garner, Josh Reaves, Payton Banks, Isaiah Washington, Julian Moore, Deividas Zemgulis, Mike Watkins, Terrence Samuel (Connecticut transfer becomes eligible)
· Arriving: Tony Carr (247Composite top 100), Lamar Stevens (247Composite top 100), Nazeer Bostick, Joe Hampton, Satchel Pierce (Virginia Tech transfer, must sit out)
· Departing: Brandon Taylor (graduation), Donovan Jack (graduation), Devin Foster (graduation), Jordan Dickerson (graduation)

· Outlook: This may be too low for the Nittany Lions when we look back on this come conference play, but we’re exercising cautious optimism for now. Carr is an impact point guard, Garner is back and Pat Chambers may also have a few post guys to work with in Watkins and Hampton. Still, there’s work to do to improve on an offense that ranked outside the top 200 nationally last season.

9. Iowa (22-11, 12-6)

· Returning: Peter Jok, Ahmad Wagner, Nicolas Baer, Dom Uhl, Brady Ellingson, Christian Williams
· Arriving: Tyler Cook (247Composite top 100), Cordell Pemsl, Ryan Kriener, Jordan Bohannon, Maishe Dailey
· Departing: Brandon Hutton (transfer), Andrew Fleming (transfer), Jarrod Uthoff (graduation), Mike Gesell (graduation), Anthony Clemmons (graduation), Adam Woodbury (graduation)

· Outlook: Fran McCaffery lost four starters from a team that peaked in early February and then collapsed down the stretch last season. The Hawkeyes have a ton of production to replace and outside of Jok, there are plenty of guys who will need to take on bigger roles for Iowa to be successful. Baer, Wagner and Uhl need to take major steps forward and Cook and Bohannon will need to be reliable options as freshmen for Iowa to reach its ceiling.

8. Nebraska (16-18, 6-12)

· Returning: Andrew White, Tai Webster, Glynn Watson, Jack McVeigh, Ed Morrow, Nick Fuller, Michael Jacobson, Anton Gill (Louisville transfer becomes eligible)
· Arriving: Isaiah Roby, Jeriah Horne, Jordy Tshimanga, James Palmer (Miami transfer, must sit out)
· Departing: Shavon Shields (graduation), Jake Hammond (transfer), Johnny Trueblood (transfer), Benny Parker (graduation), Bakari Evelyn (transfer)

· Outlook: The Cornhuskers have a solid perimeter group led by White, who tested the NBA draft waters before opting to return to Lincoln for his senior season. If Nebraska can improve upon its defense, which was ranked 129th last season nationally, it can make a move up in the league standings.

7. Ohio State (21-14, 11-7)

· Returning: Keita Bates-Diop, Jae’Sean Tate, Kam Williams, JaQuan Lyle, Marc Loving, David Bell, Trevor Thompson
· Arriving: Derek Funderburk (247Composite top 100), Micah Potter, Andre Wesson, C.J. Jackson
· Departing: A.J. Harris (transfer), Daniel Giddens (transfer), Mickey Mitchell (transfer), Austin Grandstaff (transfer)

· Outlook: Only Lyle remains from Thad Matta’s heralded 2015 recruiting class, but the Buckeyes do return their top six players from last year’s squad that made the NIT. Ohio State should once again be a fine defensive team, but they need more reliable point guard play and much better perimeter shooting (33.4 percent last season) to get back to the NCAA tournament.

6. Maryland (27-9, 12-6)

· Returning: Melo Trimble, Jared Nickens, Dion Wiley, Jaylen Brantley, Michael Cekovsky, Damonte Dodd, Ivan Bender
· Arriving: Micah Thomas, Anthony Cowan (247Composite top 100), Kevin Huerter (247Composite top 100), L.G. Gill (graduate transfer from Duquesne), Justin Jackson (247Composite top 100)
· Departing: Jake Layman (graduation), Varun Rum (graduation), Rasheed Sulaimon (graduation), Diamond Stone (NBA early entry), Robert Carter (NBA early entry)

· Outlook: We’re buying a bounce back season for Trimble, who wasn’t completely healthy last season and was the last Big Ten player to announce that he would return to school rather than stay in the NBA draft. The Terps lost a lot of talent, but welcome Wiley back from injury and should also be able to find a bigger role for Nickens, a capable perimeter shooter. Throw in a solid, but not spectacular frontcourt, two top 100 recruits and Gill, a grad transfer, and Maryland could very well be on its way back to the NCAA tournament.

5. Michigan (23-13, 10-8)

· Returning: Derrick Walton, Zak Irvin, Mark Donnal, Duncan Robinson, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Moritz Wagner, D.J. Wilson
· Arriving: Xavier Simpson (247Composite top 100), Jon Teske, Ibi Watson, Austin Davis
· Departing: Caris LeVert (graduation), Aubrey Dawkins (transfer), Ricky Doyle (transfer), Spike Albrecht (transfer), Kameron Chatman (transfer)

· Outlook: LeVert is gone, which may end up being a good thing as Michigan coach John Beilein no longer has to answer questions about when he’ll return from an injury that totally derailed the Wolverines last season. Michigan needs to be much better on defense than last season and perhaps two new assistant coaches will rebuild the Wolverines on that end of the floor. It would also help if Walton can stay healthy all season.

4. Purdue (26-9, 12-6)

· Returning: Isaac Haas, Vincent Edwards, Caleb Swanigan, Dakota Mathias, Ryan Cline, P.J. Thompson, Jacquil Taylor, Basil Smotherman
· Arriving: Carsen Edwards, Spike Albrecht (graduate transfer from Michigan)
· Departing: A.J. Hammons (graduation), Rapheal Davis (graduation), Grant Weatherford (transfer), Kendall Stephens (transfer), Johnny Hill (graduation)

· Outlook: Purdue has one of the best frontcourts in the country once again, but will the guard play be good enough to push the Boilermakers to their first NCAA tournament win since 2012? Edwards and Albrecht, if healthy, should help that situation. Purdue also needs more consistency out of Cline and Mathias, two guys who should be shooting in the mid 40 percent range from the perimeter.

3. Indiana (27-8, 15-3)

· Returning: Thomas Bryant, James Blackmon Jr., Robert Johnson, OG Anunoby, Juwan Morgan, Collin Hartman, Josh Newkirk (Pittsburgh transfer becomes eligible), Tim Priller
· Arriving: De’Ron Davis (247Composite top 100), Curtis Jones (247Composite top 100), Devonte Green, Grant Gelon, Freddie McSwain
· Departing: Yogi Ferrell (graduation), Max Bielfeldt (graduation), Nick Zeisloft (graduation), Ryan Burton (graduation), Harrison Niego (transfer), Troy Williams (NBA early entry)

· Outlook: Indiana’s offense is going to take a step backward, but the personnel exists for the defense to take another step forward. Bryant should be an All-Big Ten type of player, but who is going to be the point guard? The Hoosiers won’t be able to replace Ferrell, but need Johnson, Newkirk and Blackmon Jr. to be able to handle the ball handling duties. The frontcourt should be very good with Davis, Anunoby, Morgan and Hartman joining Bryant.

2. Wisconsin (22-13, 12-6)

· Returning: Nigel Hayes, Bronson Koenig, Ethan Happ, Zak Showalter, Vitto Brown, Brevin Pritzl, Charlie Thomas, Jordan Hill, Alex Illikainen, Khalil Iverson, Andy Van Vliet
· Arriving: Aleem Ford, D’Mitrik Trice
· Departing: Riley Dearring (transfer), Jordan Smith (graduation)

· Outlook: Wisconsin will be the pick by many to win the league, but for that to happen, Hayes needs to be a much better offensive player. He shot just 40 percent on 2s last season and 29.3 percent on 3s, which simply isn’t good enough for a player using that many possessions. Happ is coming off of a terrific redshirt freshman season and Koenig is now a senior with three NCAA tournament runs under his belt. Beware of the Badgers.

1. Michigan State (29-6, 13-5)

· Returning: Eron Harris, Matt McQuaid, Gavin Schilling, Alvin Ellis, Lourawls Nairn, Kenny Goins, Kyle Ahrens
· Arriving: Miles Bridges (247Composite top 100), Cassius Winston (247Composite top 100), Josh Langford (247Composite top 100), Nick Ward (247Composite top 100), Ben Carter (graduate transfer from UNLV)
· Departing: Denzel Valentine (graduation), Bryn Forbes (graduation), Matt Costello (graduation), Colby Wollenman (graduation), Javon Bess (transfer), Marvin Clark Jr. (transfer), Deyonta Davis (NBA early entry)

· Outlook: Michigan State returns mostly role players, but welcomes two McDonald’s All-Americans plus two other top 40 recruits and a grad transfer who can help. There will be growing pains in East Lansing as all of the pieces mesh together, but Bridges and Langford should be very good immediately. Losing Davis hurt, but the pieces exist for the Spartans to win the league. It also doesn’t hurt that Tom Izzo, the Big Ten’s best coach, (and a newly inducted Hall of Famer) continues to roam the sidelines of the Breslin Center.

An updated look at who is coming and going in the Big Ten

With the deadline to withdraw from the NBA draft behind us, it’s time for our updated look at who’s coming and going in the Big Ten for the 2016-2017 season.

Illinois (15-19, 12th place tie)

· Returning: Malcolm Hill, Aaron Jordan, Tracy Abrams, D.J. Williams, Jalen Coleman-Lands, Leron Black (suspended for six games), Jaylon Tate, Maverick Morgan, Michael Finke, Mike Thorne (granted medical hardship waiver), Alex Austin, Kipper Nichols (Tulane transfer becomes eligible)

· Arriving: Tejon Lucas

· Departing: Kendrick Nunn (dismissed), Khalid Lewis (graduation), Mike LaTulip (transfer)

Notes: Nunn’s dismissal is a loss from a talent standpoint, but Illinois did the right thing getting rid of him after a guilty plea on a domestic battery charge. Black and Tate are still with the program, as is Thorne, who got a sixth year of eligibility due to an injury last season.

Indiana (27-8, Big Ten champion, NCAA Sweet Sixteen) 

· Returning: Thomas Bryant, James Blackmon Jr., Robert Johnson, OG Anunoby, Juwan Morgan, Collin Hartman, Josh Newkirk (Pittsburgh transfer becomes eligible), Tim Priller

· Arriving: De’Ron Davis (247Composite top 100), Curtis Jones (247Composite top 100), Devonte Green, Grant Gelon, Freddie McSwain

· Departing: Yogi Ferrell (graduation), Max Bielfeldt (graduation), Nick Zeisloft (graduation), Ryan Burton (graduation), Harrison Niego (transfer), Troy Williams (NBA early entry)

Notes: As expected, Blackmon Jr. is back for his junior season and Williams opted to remain in the NBA draft. The Hoosiers will once again be talented, but there’s plenty of production to replace.

Iowa (22-11, 3rd place tie, NCAA tournament round of 32)

· Returning: Peter Jok, Ahmad Wagner, Nicolas Baer, Dom Uhl, Brady Ellingson, Christian Williams

· Arriving: Tyler Cook (247Composite top 100), Cordell Pemsl, Ryan Kriener, Jordan Bohannon, Maishe Dailey

· Departing: Brandon Hutton (transfer), Andrew Fleming (transfer), Jarrod Uthoff (graduation), Mike Gesell (graduation), Anthony Clemmons (graduation), Adam Woodbury (graduation)

Notes: The Hawkeyes figure to take a step back next season as they graduate four senior starters. Although expected, getting Jok back for his senior season was a big deal for Fran McCaffery.

Maryland (27-9, 3rd place tie, NCAA Sweet Sixteen)

· Returning: Melo Trimble, Jared Nickens, Dion Wiley, Jaylen Brantley, Michael Cekovsky, Damonte Dodd, Ivan Bender

· Arriving: Micah Thomas, Anthony Cowan (247Composite top 100), Kevin Huerter (247Composite top 100), L.G. Gill (graduate transfer from Duquesne), Justin Jackson (247Composite top 100)

· Departing: Jake Layman (graduation), Varun Rum (graduation), Rasheed Sulaimon (graduation), Diamond Stone (NBA early entry), Robert Carter (NBA early entry)

Notes: Trimble is back, which means the Terps have the pieces in place to once again make the NCAA tournament. Mark Turgeon and company lost plenty, but an elite point guard like Trimble gives this group plenty of hope.

Michigan (23-13, 8th place, NCAA tournament round of 64)

· Returning: Derrick Walton, Zak Irvin, Mark Donnal, Duncan Robinson, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Moritz Wagner, D.J. Wilson

· Arriving: Xavier Simpson (247Composite top 100), Jon Teske, Ibi Watson, Austin Davis

· Departing: Caris LeVert (graduation), Aubrey Dawkins (transfer), Ricky Doyle (transfer), Spike Albrecht (transfer), Kameron Chatman (transfer)

Notes: The Wolverines had four players transfer out, lost two assistant coaches and graduated LeVert. But after playing most of last season without LeVert, Michigan returns just about every key piece from a team that won 23 games.

Michigan State (29-6, 2nd place, NCAA tournament round of 64)

· Returning: Eron Harris, Matt McQuaid, Gavin Schilling, Alvin Ellis, Lourawls Nairn, Kenny Goins, Kyle Ahrens

· Arriving: Miles Bridges (247Composite top 100), Cassius Winston (247Composite top 100), Josh Langford (247Composite top 100), Nick Ward (247Composite top 100), Ben Carter (graduate transfer from UNLV)

· Departing: Denzel Valentine (graduation), Bryn Forbes (graduation), Matt Costello (graduation), Colby Wollenman (graduation), Javon Bess (transfer), Marvin Clark Jr. (transfer), Deyonta Davis (NBA early entry)

Notes: Michigan State’s ceiling isn’t as high with Davis leaving early, but the Big Ten’s best recruiting class arrives in East Lansing along with Carter, who should help in the frontcourt.

Minnesota (8-23, 13th place)

· Returning: Nate Mason, Jordan Murphy, Dupree McBryer, Ahmad Gilbert, Bakary Konate, Charles Buggs, Stephon Sharp, Gaston Diedhiou, Davonte Fitzgerald (Texas A&M transfer becomes eligible), Reggie Lynch (Illinois State transfer becomes eligible)

· Arriving: Amir Coffey (247Composite top 100), Eric Curry, Michael Hurt, Akeem Springs (graduate transfer from Milwaukee)

· Departing: Joey King (graduation), Kevin Dorsey (transfer), Carlos Morris (dismissed/graduation)

Notes: Things should improve in Minneapolis with three transfers added to the mix – assuming Lynch’s legal woes don’t get him booted from the roster – and a top 50 guard in Amir Coffey arriving in the backcourt.

Nebraska (16-18, 11th place)

· Returning: Andrew White, Tai Webster, Glynn Watson, Jack McVeigh, Ed Morrow, Nick Fuller, Michael Jacobson, Anton Gill (Louisville transfer becomes eligible)

· Arriving: Isaiah Roby, Jeriah Horne, Jordy Tshimanga, James Palmer (Miami transfer, must sit out)

· Departing: Shavon Shields (graduation), Jake Hammond (transfer), Johnny Trueblood (transfer), Benny Parker (graduation), Bakari Evelyn (transfer)

Notes: White waited until the final day to announce his return to Lincoln, which was a smart decision. The Cornhuskers will still be young, but Tim Miles has some pieces to work with on this roster.

Northwestern (20-12, 9th place)

· Returning: Bryant McIntosh, Nathan Taphorn, Scottie Lindsey, Vic Law, Dererk Pardon, Gavin Skelly, Jordan Ash

· Arriving: Rapolas Ivanauskas, Barret Benson, Isiah Brown

· Departing: Alex Olah (graduation), Tre Demps (graduation), Joey Van Zegeren (graduation), Johnnie Vassar (transfer)

Notes: Northwestern welcomes back Law, who missed last season with a shoulder injury after a promising freshman campaign.

Ohio State (21-14, 7th place, NIT second round)

· Returning: Keita Bates-Diop, Jae’Sean Tate, Kam Williams, JaQuan Lyle, Marc Loving, David Bell, Trevor Thompson

· Arriving: Derek Funderburk (247Composite top 100), Micah Potter, Andre Wesson, C.J. Jackson

· Departing: A.J. Harris (transfer), Daniel Giddens (transfer), Mickey Mitchell (transfer), Austin Grandstaff (transfer)

Notes: The Buckeyes were hit hard by transfers, but will return their top six players following the recent news that Thompson will be back in Columbus.

Penn State (16-16, 10th place)

· Returning: Shep Garner, Josh Reaves, Payton Banks, Isaiah Washington, Julian Moore, Deividas Zemgulis, Mike Watkins, Terrence Samuel (Connecticut transfer becomes eligible)

· Arriving: Tony Carr (247Composite top 100), Lamar Stevens (247Composite top 100), Nazeer Bostick, Joe Hampton, Satchel Pierce (Virginia Tech transfer, must sit out)

· Departing: Brandon Taylor (graduation), Donovan Jack (graduation), Devin Foster (graduation), Jordan Dickerson (graduation)

Notes: Penn State might finally be ready to make a run at top eight in the Big Ten standings under Pat Chambers as it welcomes a strong influx of talent. Watkins, Samuel, Carr, Stevens and Hampton all have the potential to help right away.

Purdue (26-9, 3rd place tie, NCAA tournament round of 64)

· Returning: Isaac Haas, Vincent Edwards, Caleb Swanigan, Dakota Mathias, Ryan Cline, P.J. Thompson, Jacquil Taylor, Basil Smotherman

· Arriving: Carsen Edwards, Spike Albrecht (graduate transfer from Michigan)

· Departing: A.J. Hammons (graduation), Rapheal Davis (graduation), Grant Weatherford (transfer), Kendall Stephens (transfer), Johnny Hill (graduation)

Notes: Edwards and Swanigan both returned to school and Purdue should again have one of the nation’s best frontcourts. If their guard play is improved and Albrecht is healthy, look out.

Rutgers (7-25, 14th place)

· Returning: Corey Sanders, Mike Williams, Deshawn Freeman, Jonathan Laurent, Ibrahima Diallo, Shaquille Dorson, Nigel Johnson (Kansas State transfer becomes eligible)

· Arriving: Issa Thiam, Matt Bullock, Candido Sa

· Departing: Bishop Daniels (graduation), Jalen Hyde (graduation), Omari Grier (graduation), Greg Lewis (graduation), D.J. Foreman (transfer), Justin Goode (transfer)

Notes: The Steve Pikiell era will begin in Piscataway next winter and the roster won’t necessarily be conducive to winning in a power five league. Getting Sanders back for his sophomore season was a major boost.

Wisconsin (22-13, 3rd place tie, NCAA Sweet Sixteen)

· Returning: Nigel Hayes, Bronson Koenig, Ethan Happ, Zak Showalter, Vitto Brown, Brevin Pritzl, Charlie Thomas, Jordan Hill, Alex Illikainen, Khalil Iverson, Andy Van Vliet

· Arriving: Aleem Ford, D’Mitrik Trice

· Departing: Riley Dearring (transfer), Jordan Smith (graduation)

Notes: The Badgers have the ingredients to make a run at the Big Ten title with Hayes and Koenig back for their senior seasons. Wisconsin hasn’t missed a beat under Greg Gard, who took over for Bo Ryan in December.

POTB 130: Blackmon Jr. stays, Williams goes

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 discuss Wednesday’s news of James Blackmon Jr. returning to Indiana for his junior season and Troy Williams departing for the 2016 NBA draft.

Among the topics discussed:

· Thoughts from Jerod and Alex on both decisions
· The impact on both decisions on IU’s team next season
· The challenges the Hoosiers will face next season without Williams
· The importance of Blackmon Jr.’s decision to return
· How these decisions shift expectations for next season, if at all

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.

Troy Williams forgoes senior season, will remain in NBA draft

Troy Williams is ready to begin the next chapter of his basketball career.

The 6-foot-7 junior forward has decided to forgo his senior season and remain in the 2016 NBA draft, he confirmed on his Instagram account.

Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com reported that Williams will sign with ASM Sports.

Williams, who averaged 13.3 points and 5.8 rebounds last season, was a third team All-Big Ten selection in his final collegiate season as Indiana won the league title outright and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.

His departure means the Hoosiers will be without four of their top seven scorers from this season’s team next winter as Williams joins Yogi Ferrell, Max Bielfeldt and Nick Zeisloft as departures from the program.

The decision of Williams to forgo his senior season, however, didn’t come as a surprise as Indiana had been preparing for life without him for months.

The coaching staff signed Neosho County (Kan.) Community College wing Freddie McSwain in April to occupy the final roster spot for the 2016-2017 season.

Most mock drafts have Williams, who recently said he is a couple of classes and an internship short of his bachelor’s degree, going undrafted next month. He attended the NBA draft combine earlier in the month and worked out for the Indiana Pacers last week.

But even if Williams is not selected by an NBA team, he should have heavy free agent interest and find his way into the NBA Summer League and a training camp next fall.

Williams played in 99 games over three seasons at Indiana, making 94 starts. He averaged 11.3 points on 52.2 percent shooting to go along with 5.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists and a steal per game.

Just one member of Indiana’s heralded six-man 2013 recruiting class – Collin Hartman – will complete all four years of eligibility in Bloomington.

Williams and Noah Vonleh both left early for the NBA, Devin Davis was dismissed from the program and Stanford Robinson (Rhode Island) and Luke Fischer (Marquette) both transferred.

James Blackmon Jr. returning to Indiana for junior season

After testing the NBA draft waters, James Blackmon Jr. has decided he’s not yet ready to take the next step in his career.

Inside the Hall has confirmed that the 6-foot-4 guard and former McDonald’s All-American will return to Bloomington for his junior season.

Blackmon Jr. played in 13 games last season for the Hoosiers before suffering a season ending right knee ACL injury two days before IU’s Big Ten opener at Rutgers.

Without Blackmon Jr., Indiana won 17 of its next 22 games and captured its second outright Big Ten regular season championship in four season.

The Hoosiers beat Chattanooga and Kentucky in the 2016 NCAA tournament before falling to eventual national runner-up North Carolina in the east region semifinal in Philadelphia.

Had he opted to remain the NBA draft, he was expected to go undrafted as he recovers from a third surgery since 2012.

As a sophomore at Fort Wayne Luers, Blackmon Jr. suffered a torn ACL in his left knee and in the summer of 2015, he underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus.

He said earlier this month that this injury has been the toughest to deal with of the three.

“It was a huge low point for me,” he told Moritz Sports in a radio interview. “Probably the hardest injury I’ve ever had to overcome. But I’m getting through it and everything looks up from here. I’m just staying positive through it all.”

In 46 career games, the Marion product has averaged 15.7 points on 43.6 percent shooting and five rebounds per game.

His decision to return is a major coup for Indiana, which will need to replace the perimeter scoring vacated by Yogi Ferrell and Nick Zeisloft.

Blackmon Jr. is expected to be a major part of Indiana’s backcourt rotation next season, a group that will also include Robert Johnson, Josh Newkirk, Curtis Jones and Devonte Green.

He said recently he’s at about 75 percent health as he continues to rehab.

“The doctors told me six months would be coming back fast,” Blackmon Jr. told Moritz Sports. “I’m at four months and I’ve been working so hard at the rehab and doing a lot extra. So I’m at four months and I feel really good. I’m not going to rush anything back or try to come back too fast.”

Indiana to host North Carolina in Big Ten/ACC Challenge

Indiana will host North Carolina in the 2016 Big Ten/ACC Challenge, ESPN announced on Tuesday afternoon. The matchup was first reported on Monday by CBSSports.com.

The two teams will meet at Assembly Hall on Wednesday, November 30.

The Tar Heels and Hoosiers met in the 2016 NCAA tournament East region semifinal in Philadelphia in March. North Carolina beat Indiana 101-86 and advanced all of the way to the national championship game, where it fell to Villanova.

North Carolina will return a strong nucleus that will include Kennedy Meeks, Justin Jackson, Isaiah Hicks, Theo Pinson and Joel Berry.

John Gasaway projected North Carolina to finish second in the ACC next season in his early forecast for the league’s standings next season.

“Brice Johnson and Marcus Paige are gone, but feast your eyes on everyone who’s coming back for another season in Chapel Hill: Joel Berry, Justin Jackson, Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks, Theo Pinson and Nate Britt,” Gasaway wrote. “You can also throw in top-20 freshman Tony Bradley for good measure. That’ll do — assuming of course that the NCAA’s long-running investigation into alleged paper classes at UNC doesn’t decree otherwise.”

Indiana hosted North Carolina in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Nov. 27, 2012 and won, 83-59.

Other Big Ten/ACC Challenge matchups include:

– Michigan State at Duke
– Syracuse at Wisconsin
– Purdue at Louisville
– Ohio State at Virginia
– Virginia Tech at Michigan
– Georgia Tech at Penn State
– Wake Forest at Northwestern
– Rutgers at Miami
– Minnesota at Florida State
– Nebraska at Clemson
– Pittsburgh at Maryland
– North Carolina State at Illinois
– Iowa at Notre Dame

Other known non-conference opponents for Indiana next season include IPFW (in Fort Wayne), Kansas (at Pearl Harbor), Louisville (neutral court) and Butler (neutral court).

To stay or to go: Breaking down the impact of Williams, Blackmon Jr. NBA decisions

The deadline to withdraw from the NBA draft is Wednesday, May 25, which means we’ll know in the next 72 hours whether Troy Williams and James Blackmon Jr. will return to Indiana next season.

Here’s a look at the impact of each decision for Indiana’s outlook next season:

Troy Williams

If he stays: Regardless of how much you believe in OG Anunoby taking the next step in his development as a sophomore, the return of Williams makes Indiana’s frontline even more dangerous next winter. Yes, his decision making is questionable at times and he’ll have games where he’s a no-show (at Michigan State last season), but there are also times when Williams can take over a game by attacking the basket relentlessly.

Many have anointed Indiana a top 10 or top 15 with or without Williams next season, but Indiana has more upside with him on the roster. A third team All-Big Ten selection as a junior, Williams would likely enter the season as one of the Big Ten’s 10 best players with a chance to show he can lead a team as an upperclassman.

If he goes: If Williams stays in the draft, Anunoby morphing into an all-league type of player and solid production from De’Ron Davis and Juwan Morgan will be a necessity for the Hoosiers. Anunoby has shown he can play at a high level, but he also struggled against North Carolina in the NCAA tournament, so he’s no sure thing to be as productive as Williams.

Indiana would also be without one of its best playmakers with the ball and a guy who can create a shot for himself, even if he is turnover prone at times. The rebounding presence vacated by Williams, the team’s best defensive rebounder from a percentage standpoint, would also have to be replaced.

James Blackmon Jr.

If he stays: Blackmon Jr. was averaging 15.8 points and shooting 46.3 percent on 3s as the time of his injury last season, which are two numbers that are unlikely to be duplicated by anyone else in IU’s backcourt. With the loss of Yogi Ferrell to graduation, Indiana needs a backcourt player who can create offense and if healthy, Blackmon Jr. is the best option on the roster to step forward. He’s not a point guard, but he can handle the ball capably enough to spend some time there and can also get his shot in late shot clock situations.

His defense obviously needs work, but after watching his teammates win the Big Ten title last season because of their improved work on that end of the floor, Blackmon Jr. surely knows he’ll have to step up the production on that end of the floor. If he’s back, it also allows Indiana to bring freshmen Curtis Jones and Devonte Green along at a slower pace as Blackmon Jr., Robert Johnson and Josh Newkirk should start the season as main cogs in the backcourt.

If he goes: Indiana loses its best backcourt scorer and will need Johnson to become a much bigger part of the offense. The Hoosiers will also have to rely more on Jones, a top 50 recruit and perhaps Green as well.

The backcourt scoring piece, however, is the key. Indiana is already losing Yogi Ferrell, so losing Blackmon Jr. would make the Hoosiers a much more frontcourt oriented team with less perimeter shooting. Tom Crean’s best teams in Bloomington have struck a solid balance between scoring up front and in the backcourt, but this group would likely be counting on Thomas Bryant to score 17 or 18 a game in the scenario that Blackmon Jr. departs.