Derby Festival Basketball Classic recap: Thomas Bryant

  • 04/15/2015 9:42 am in

Class of 2015 Huntington Prep (W.V.) big man and IU commit Thomas Bryant was one of three future Hoosiers who participated in the Derby Festival Basketball Classic at Freedom Hall.

Inside the Hall was there for both practices, the Night of the Future Stars event and the game. Today, we conclude our recap of the weekend for all three recruits with our look at Bryant.

Game stats

19 points (8-of-13 FG, 3-of-6 3PFG), six rebounds (two offensive), two blocks, two turnovers and a steal in 20 minutes; Purple Team MVP

Player observations

For those who had a chance to watch Bryant in Louisville, it is hard to draw anything but positives about his weekend. Off the court in interviews, he is an engaging and polite kid who likes to smile and laugh. His personality is one that Indiana fans should quickly embrace. And on the court, there’s plenty to like about the player he is now and the player he can become once he arrives in Bloomington. He’s only 17 and won’t turn 18 until late July, which means there’s still a chance he will continue to grow. He’s certainly strong enough to hold his own right now in the paint, but should look like a totally different person, particularly in the upper body, once he goes through several months of weight training at the college level.

As for his game, he’s exactly what Indiana was missing this past season. He’s mobile, has an outstanding motor and is going to be a factor challenging shots at the rim. He’s also likely to be Indiana’s best rebounder from the day he steps on campus. He showed off a very solid 3-point stroke all weekend, including three triples in Saturday’s game that were a primary reason he walked away with MVP honors for his team. Areas the IU coaching staff will be able to help him immediately are his footwork and his passing out of the post. All in all, it was an outstanding weekend for Bryant, who could move up in the final national rankings when they are released this spring.


“It was just a great atmosphere (at IU). They all welcomed me, they all wanted me. They had Noah Vonleh and Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo. Those guys came there and they’re still playing in the NBA. That means that coach Crean is doing the right thing at IU. I think with the guys coming back and the new additions, we can be a great team.” – Bryant before Thursday’s Derby Festival Basketball Classic practice.

Video recap

3-point shootout


Filed to:

  • inLinE6

    Bryant better than Stone?

  • Arch Puddington

    I watched the whole thing streaming, and allowing for all the appropriate disclaimers about what can be learned from an exhibition game, I was kind of amazed at Bryant’s performance. Great energy and activity, and an unmistakable physicality that the Hoosiers have largely lacked for many years. Runs well, catches well, can shoot from outside, and has solid low-post skills. And of course, rebounds and blocks shots. Again, just an exhibition, but if what I saw was representative, he compares quite favorably with Diamond Stone (#7 in ESPN’s Top 100, headed to Maryland), and may be meaningfully better than either Raymond Spaulding (#54, Louisville) or Daniel Giddens (#56, Ohio State).

    Reality awaits, but everything I have learned since he declared suggests he is as good or better than his ranking, and exactly what the Hoosiers need in a big man.

  • marcusgresham

    Regardless of whether he is better than Spaulding or not, given the team’s needs he’s far better for Indiana than Spaulding would have been. Spaulding is extremely thin and is more of a finesse-type player than the much thicker Bryant.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    heard a scout on local AM station yesterday talking about IU’s recruits. he like OG and JM as far as their athleticism, attitudes, work ethic, and hustle. and believes they’ll be solid 4-year players well suited for complimentary (i.e. role player) type roles. bryant, on the other hand, he was very high on. echoed what we’ve been hearing about how he’ll be an immediate contributor and fan favorite. also said he’s a couple post moves away from being a very good offensive player. so seems like a good mix to me, but would love to have another 5 star to go with em.

  • Max Bailey

    Very interesting player that should be fun to watch develop. His motor is unquestionably a big part of his game. Hopefully he can help change the defensive mentality of the team with his style of play. Bryant definitely has some developing to do, particularly offensively, but still has a strong set of offensive skills that make him a tough matchup, even in Big Ten play. Will be interesting to watch IU vs. Maryland next year. Or should I say, Bryant vs. Stone?

  • Max Bailey

    He has the edge in terms of potential and overall skill. I also believe he’s a better three point shooter, or even a better shooter in general.

  • Hoosier Hall

    His shot is pretty fluid for his size. He reminds me of Vonleh except he’s longer, runs the floor better and appears more offensively polished.

  • Gregory Spera

    Finally, it does seem we have a post player who, when push comes to shove, can more than hold his own under the basket. Love that Bryant’s relentless “motor” is the first thing people mention. Obviously, there are going to be some outstanding young bigs in the B1G next season. I actually think Giddens, in particular, looks very good.

  • Ok… those more I watch the more that I learn him shooting (and making) a 3 is by no means something shocking. Talk about stretching the defense!

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    And, hopefully, Yogi vs. Melo.

  • HannerTime Hoosier

    The reason I came here to comment, CTC’s future to remain @ IU hinges on his ability to showcase TB’s talents . . . especially his 3 point shooting! Seriously, you heard it here.

  • MK

    thank you for that earth shattering analysis

  • SCHoosier

    Agree..I’m just hoping TC’s offense lets TB use his entire package..

  • It’s funny, but I already feel like he’s been playing at Indiana for awhile even though he has yet to put on the uniform. Just something about his attitude–a nice kid, funny, confident but not arrogant, knows what he can contribute but realizes it will take hard work. And, in the video I’ve seen, he has a bit of an attitude on the court. Not mean, but not willing to back down either. Seems like a great combination of qualities.

  • HannerTime Hoosier

    It was not to the level of earth-shattering, but I did feel the orbit of the earth shift! Lmao

  • kaponya44

    Did he not get the better of Stone recently? Just curious..

    For what it may be worth,I was impressed with the “eye test ” on vids of Bryant but the videos weren’t labeled to indicate who he was doing well against..I wonder who ,if any of the bigs I saw him powering through to the rim are significant players in this years Fr class.

  • kaponya44

    Similar mean streak to Cody but Bryant is less subtle about it on the court.CZ just smirked but Bryant appeared to get vocal.

  • chris

    if i’m not mistaken TB got a block on Stone in the Derby Classic

  • Arch Puddington

    Not sure about any previous encounters between Stone and Bryant, and of course this one was not serious enough to draw serious conclusions. Still, Stone looks awfully tough when he gets the ball on the block; very strong, great feet, nifty moves. I don’t get the impression, thought, that he is as active all over the court as Bryant. Both are really good and will contribute significantly to their teams next year.

    As far as the other videos, if we are thinking of the same ones, I did look up who he was overpowering. One is Daniel Giddens, and the other is a 6’11”, 245 lb. junior named Rodney Miller who is being recruited by Duke, Kansas, and some other excellent programs. Highlights are always misleading, but Bryant sure does look rugged in those particular clips.


    Exactly what I was just thinking. I just hope we don’t have repeat of Zeller in that we have a true big that has a decent outside shot, but for whatever reason he rarely, if ever, utilizes it. I don’t care how many other 3pt threats there are on the court, if you have a true big that can step out and be a threat to nail a 3 then you have to let that type of thing play a big part in his overall game. Frank the Tank anyone ?


    No, what would make us all feel the orbit of the earth shift would be if Crean’s game plan is to start, and play, two true bigs at the same time next year, and I don’t mean TW as the other big either. He should be at the 3 whether his perimeter shot takes a big leap next year or not.

  • kaponya44

    I appreciate your assessment Arch .Thank you !

    I figured some of the kids he was overpowering were top players..I looked up more on Miller..I was not aware of him..I wont forget who he is now . Giddens looks really good in most of what I saw..OSU fans have to be thrilled..I know I am going to enjoy seeing who emerges as the best among Giddens,Stone,Bryant,and Swanigan.There are a couple more front court kids coming into the B1G who could be good too ,but those are the main guys I have read up on..Also the most polished …Thomas Bryant addresses a lot from day one with his interior play ,awareness and physicality.

    A side thought /question : Have we had a kid as rugged as TB with that kind of size ,talent,and with as well rounded of a skillset upon arrival any time recent?

    Correct me if necessary,but I think everyone else was either more finesse(Haston,Jeffries,Leach,Newton,Zeller,Vonleh).or shorter(Killingsworth,DJ)…

    Maybe Noah or Cody did but we only saw so much of their abilities when they were here.I hope Bryant is allowed to showcase more of his game during his time in the program.
    I am sure I probably left someone out,but I know we sure missed out on a ton of good post kids over the years.

    TB appears to be pretty decisive on the perimeter like Kaminsky and Adreian Payne.