Welcome to offseason storylines, a look into some of the biggest storylines surrounding the 2015-2016 Indiana Hoosiers. First up, a detailed look at rising junior Troy Williams — his game, his numbers, his future and the possibility of another big leap as a junior.
If the title here looks familiar, it’s because a post with a similar title was penned last June. At the time, Williams was coming off a freshman season with mixed results, but there was plenty of optimism for what he might become in his second collegiate season.
A year later, Williams appears on the cusp of a breakout after a sophomore season full of improvements. At the recent Nike Skills Academy, Williams was already being discussed as a player who could find himself with a guaranteed NBA contract a season from now.
But there’s still plenty of room for growth for a player who has the talent to land in the first round of next June’s NBA draft. In fact, according to Williams’ uncle, Boo Williams, there were teams willing to consider him in the first round of this year’s draft, but that wasn’t assurance enough to convince him it was time to go.
Indiana coach Tom Crean was a guest on ESPNU’s college basketball podcast earlier today where he primarily discussed the legacy of Bo Ryan following yesterday’s news that the Wisconsin coach will retire after the 2015-2016 season.
Crean also discussed a couple of topics pertinent to next season and here are some highlights:
On Thomas Bryant: “We’ve had four different individual workouts with him now and every time I walk out of one there, there’s something that I really didn’t realize he has. Right away, I thought, ‘We’re going to have to do a lot more with his left hand this summer,’ though his left hand is pretty good. His shooting is coming, he’s got to learn to shoot off the move, and all of a sudden, he rings off five 3s in a row the other night in drills. To me, when you’ve got someone who can space like that — and that’s what we’ve got to get to as a team, is that you’ve got to guard us in the paint, you’ve got to guard us at the 3-point line and everywhere in-between, especially in transition and in the shot clock.”
Indiana junior forward Troy Williams is among the nation’s top college players currently participating in Nike’s inaugural Basketball Academy at Santa Monica (Calif.) Airport’s Barker Hanger.
The event, billed by Nike as an “effort to create a premium and seamless basketball experience with the game’s elite,” features both high school and college players and combines Nike’s previous three skills academies into one.
According to a press release, the academy “will allow the best players in the country to compete against the best competition while receiving guidance from Nike Basketball’s biggest stars; LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis to name a few. Additional basketball legends will be on hand to serve as mentors and coaches for the weeklong session with the top high school and college players in the country.”
I think Troy Williams has helped himself so far. Stroke looks good. Making plays with the ball. Athletic in transition. Lock 1st rounder.
The Inside the Hall Mailbag is a collection of questions tweeted to us via Twitter (@insidethehall), via email, submitted on our premium forum and sent to us via our Facebook page. Submit your questions and we’ll answer as many as we can.
Shknqk on the premium forum writes: If we assume Troy expects to play himself into the NBA, and in the league he will be a guard, can you characterize the likelihood he is the third guard in our three guard lineup? He will have to be able to go from being the killer baseline threat to truly driving and able to hit a 3-pointer. Having CH or EH at the 4 gives an excellent corner 3 threat (really valuable) and a great defensive threat (really valuable), respectively. I could see TW at the 3 being slightly less individually effective but better for the team.
Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I think Indiana sticks with Yogi Ferrell, James Blackmon Jr., Robert Johnson and Troy Williams as starters and plugs in Thomas Bryant to the spot formerly occupied by Hanner Mosquera-Perea.
The transformation Troy Williams made between his freshman and sophomore seasons at Indiana was significant.
The 6-foot-7 forward went from a player Big Ten defenses were often able to take away as a freshman to one that carried the Hoosiers at times as a sophomore because of his ability to impact the game in a variety of ways.
Williams improved his efficiency offensively, cut his turnover percentage by more than five percent, led Indiana in rebounding and showcased a much more polished stroke from the foul line and occasionally from behind the 3-point arc.
When Williams played well last season, so did the Hoosiers in most cases. In Indiana’s nine Big Ten wins, he averaged 15.5 points and 8.4 rebounds in 29.3 minutes per game.
His improvement from his freshman to sophomore seasons gave Williams the opportunity to explore his NBA draft options at the end of this past season, but he chose to return to Bloomington to continue to grow his game. He is also on schedule to earn his degree next summer.
With its top eight scorers returning and the arrival of a three-man recruiting class featuring McDonald’s All-American Thomas Bryant, there’s great optimism surrounding IU basketball as the Hoosiers prepare for the 2015-2016 season.
But as Williams sees it, the approach won’t change much this offseason from last even with greater expectations present.
Four of IU’s returning players – Collin Hartman, Robert Johnson, Nick Zeisloft and Troy Williams – along with associated head coach Tim Buckley, assistant coach Chuck Martin and director of basketball operations Rob Judson met with the media on Monday afternoon at Assembly Hall to provide an offseason update.