Inside the Hall photographer Jamie Owens had the chance last month to photograph the members of the 2014-2015 Indiana Hoosiers and produced a gallery that includes all 15 players on this season’s roster.
Check out his work from the photo shoot in the embedded gallery after the jump.
Practice is underway across the country, Big Ten media day is next week in Chicago and we’re less than a month away from the season’s first exhibition games, which means it is time for a closer look at expectations for the conference at-large and more specifically, Indiana.
We’ve given you a rundown of the preseason projections from all of the major preseason magazines, including Athlon Sports, Blue Ribbon, Lindy’s Sports and The Sporting News.
But as we’ve done in the past and to provide a better snapshot of how the league is being viewed nationally, we’ve combined the projections from those four magazines with ESPN Insider’s picks as well as those of Dan Hanner of RealGM.com. (Note: Hanner’s picks are included because they are backed up by his model’s numeric projections. While those haven’t been released yet for the Big Ten, he confirmed to us that the order the teams are listed in his write up are indeed his projections for the order in which the league will shake out.)
Here’s a look at all six sets of projections along with a seventh column that includes the order of finish if you average them out:
It’s no surprise that Wisconsin is the overwhelming and consensus favorite to win the conference as the Badgers return nearly everyone from last year’s group that reached the Final Four.
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 Max Hoetzel.
The story behind Max Hoetzel’s recruitment to Indiana is somewhat ironic. After all, the 6-foot-8 forward likely would not be donning the cream and crimson this season had it not been for current UNLV freshman Goodluck Okonoboh.
The summer before his senior year of high school, Hoetzel chose to transfer from his hometown Calabasas (Calif.) High to Wilbraham and Monson (Mass.) Academy in order to gain more exposure for his recruitment. At the time, Indiana was recruiting Okonoboh as part of its 2014 class.
And when Indiana coach Tom Crean and then-assistant Kenny Johnson arrived on campus to watch Okonoboh, WMA coach Chris Sparks convinced them to watch his newest player — one he knew they certainly would be interested in due to the Hoosiers’ lack of 3-point shooters.
“He’s a lot like a Chandler Parsons type,” Sparks said at the time. “I’d compare him to Kyle Korver too, but that’d be selling him short on his athletic ability.”
Indiana, of course, had that same vision. After watching him that day, the Hoosiers stayed in touch and brought him to Bloomington for an official visit the weekend of Oct. 25. He committed just two days later.
The recruitment of class of 2015 Jefferson City (Mo.) forward Ogugua “O.G.” Anunoby will be coming to a conclusion soon, according to his high school coach.
Jefferson City coach Blair Thompson told Inside the Hall on Monday morning that Anunoby, who visited Bloomington over the weekend, has completed his official visits and hopes to have a decision soon.
“He said it (the Indiana visit) went really well,” Thompson told Inside the Hall. “At this point, he has taken all of the official visits to the schools at the top of his list and I would anticipate, in talking to him, a decision within the next 7 to 10 days, at the most.”
Anunoby, a 6-foot-8 forward, has taken official visits to Iowa, Georgia and Indiana.
He’s rated the No. 240 prospect nationally in the 247Composite and became a target for the Hoosier staff over the summer when they saw him play for Team Thad.
“I think they ran into O.G. this summer and saw him late this summer,” Thompson explained. “Since they saw him play with Team Thad this summer, they contacted me and have been in regular contact with O.G. and have stayed very, very persistent and active in his recruitment. They definitely have let him know that the interest is there. I think they’ve done a fantastic job of staying in communication with him and letting him know where they stand throughout the whole process.”
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 start our look at Indiana’s roster with James Blackmon Jr.
James Blackmon Jr.’s decision to re-open his recruitment in August of 2013 was a crippling blow at the time for Indiana. After the Hoosier staff had spent another summer tracking Blackmon Jr. around the country, the five-star guard decided he wanted to look around and assess his options.
But after two-plus months of visits, phone calls and the best efforts of some of the country’s top programs, Blackmon Jr., in front of a national television audience, announced that Indiana was the place for him.
“This was where my heart was,” Blackmon said. “I couldn’t imagine myself not playing for the fans of Indiana basketball.”
Fast forward to almost one year later and the 6-foot-4 shooting guard is preparing for his first season in Bloomington, where he’ll be expected to play a major role.
He’s already been recognized as one of the top 20 guards in the country by Sports Illustrated because of his prowess as an elite scorer and shooter. “Indiana needs shooting. Badly,” SI wrote. “Blackmon addresses scoring from the perimeter instantly as one of the best marksman among the incoming freshmen, and he’s building strength to endure the workload.”
And unlike most freshmen, Blackmon Jr. had the opportunity to get a jump start on his college career as Indiana took a five-game exhibition tour of Canada in August. The Fort Wayne native was the team’s leading scorer on the tour as he averaged 18.8 points and posted an effective field goal percentage of 65.3.
So how does Blackmon Jr.’s game translate to college?
Indiana officially tipped off the 2014-2015 season earlier today with its first practice in Assembly Hall. Afterward, Tom Crean talked to IUHoosiers.com and provided some observations from the opening practice, which we’ve transcribed below:
On what most excites him about this group:
“Well it’s always going to be spirited. There’s no doubt about that and it’s going to be exciting. I loved the retention that we had when we did some offensive things at the beginning of practice from the summer, but the most exciting thing for me was how guys continued to compete when fatigue came.
“We didn’t always play as smart and we didn’t always play as efficient, but we continued to compete. And we’ll clean up the skills, but the competition now and guys really being able to get after it and get after one another and play to win, that’s something that is an acquired trait. You’ve got to have something inside of you, but you’ve got to be willing to bring it out and you’ve got to be willing to bring it out in others. I thought we took some steps towards that in this first practice.”
With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’ll be taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster over the next month. Today, we wrap up our look at the Big Ten with the Wisconsin Badgers. Our player-by-player look at the IU roster begins on Monday.
There’s an overwhelming favorite in the Big Ten this season and with good reason. Wisconsin, which finished last season 30-8 and narrowly lost to Kentucky in the Final Four, is as big of a favorite as the league has seen in several seasons.
The Badgers welcome back four of five starters and besides Ben Brust, every notable contributor from a team that was a few plays away from the national championship game. Most notable of the returnees are Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, who have both received numerous preseason accolades and should be in any conversation for preseason Big Ten player of the year.
Kaminsky was arguably the country’s biggest surprise last season as he emerged from a role player into a first team All-Big Ten performer. As noted in our list of the league’s top 25 players, the 7-footer hit 58 percent of his 2s and 38 percent of his 3s a season ago and was also among the league’s best rebounders and shot blockers. Kaminsky is a difficult player to contain because he can score on the block, facing up, in the pick-and-pop and also from behind the 3-point line.
Dekker has a chance to develop into a lottery pick with a strong junior season and has reportedly grown another inch this offseason. He’s now listed at 6-foot-9. As a sophomore, he made 55 percent of his 2s and only turned it over on 10.2 percent of his possessions, the fourth best mark among returning Big Ten players.