A closer look at the Evan Fitzner addition

  • 05/17/2018 10:41 am in

Indiana added a 13th scholarship player to its roster earlier this month in Evan Fitzner, a graduate transfer from Saint Mary’s who will be eligible immediately.

The 6-foot-10 Fitzner, a native of San Diego (Calif.), has one year of eligibility remaining.

How will Fitzner impact the program next season? Here’s what Archie Miller said about Fitzner in the program’s press release announcing his addition:

“Evan is an experienced player who will have the ability to help us because he helps our team become older. He is a career 40 percent plus shooter from three-point range and is someone we are going to look for to stretch the floor with his range. He’s a physical presence who brings much needed depth to our frontcourt and his skillset gives us versatility that will be invaluable. The overall experience he gained at the high level he played over the last three years will be a tremendous asset to our program.”

What a player adds from a leadership perspective is difficult to forecast, but Miller is correct in terms of Fitzner making IU an older team. He will be the oldest scholarship player on the next season’s roster and the second oldest contributor behind Zach McRoberts.

Beyond giving the Hoosiers another senior, Fitzner also brings the potential to contribute in several key areas, including perimeter shooting.

In three seasons at Saint Mary’s, Fitzner made 125 3-pointers in 105 career games. More importantly, he connected at a 41.5 percent clip on 3s and his career effective field goal percentage is 58.8.

Looking at his offensive profile in Synergy Sports, there are four areas where Fitzner figures to help the Hoosiers. Most notably, he ranked in the 76th percentile nationally as a spot-up shooter, scoring 1.06 points per possessions in such situations.

As a team, Indiana ranked in just the 25th percentile last season in spot up situations and scored .89 points per possession on spot up possessions. The addition of Romeo Langford should obviously help, but adding a veteran floor spacer like Fitzner could also prove very beneficial.

As you’ll see in the clips below, Fitzner is great at finding space on the perimeter and catching and shooting:

In addition to his efficiency in spot up situations, Fitzner also moves well without the ball. According to Synergy, he ranked in the 73rd percentile nationally in cut situations. Fitzner scored 1.27 points per possession off of cuts.

With more talent around him, Fitzner should be able to continue to excel by simply moving without the ball and getting open for teammates to find him.

While he’s not an elite athlete, Fitzner can also be effective as the roll man in pick-and-roll situations. He ranked in the 54th percentile in such situations last season at Saint Mary’s, according to Synergy.

As Fitzner told us earlier this month, one underrated aspect of his game is his ability to put the ball on the floor, which we’ve shown a few times in the clips below.

Fitzner can either pop out and shoot the three as the roll man or he can put the ball on the floor, get in the lane and score:

Finally, Fitzner was effective (albeit in very limited opportunities) in transition. In 12 transition possessions last season at Saint Mary’s, he scored 15 points.

As you’ll see below, many of these opportunities came from teammates simply finding Fitzner for open looks with the defense on its heels:

With grad transfers effectively acting as a free agent market in college basketball, it makes sense for programs to fill in gaps for a season without tying up scholarships for more than that season.

Indiana has taken three graduate transfers in recent seasons and the results were a mixed bag. Going back to the 2013-14 season, the Hoosiers added Evan Gordon from Arizona State, which didn’t work out particularly well for the program or Gordon. Indiana later had success with Nick Zeisloft (who played two seasons) and Max Bielfeldt, who played one and was named the Big Ten sixth man of the year.

It’s worth noting that the most successful grad transfers are typically the guys who aren’t being asked to do too much in their new situation. Last season, Mark Alstork (Illinois) and Jaaron Simmons (Michigan) both had major expectations going into the season and were both moving up to the Big Ten from the mid-major ranks. Neither met expectations.

With Fitzner, he’s already played frequently against some of the nation’s best programs and he’s unlikely to be asked to take on a featured role at Indiana. For that reason, it’s probably not unrealistic to expect him to make an impact in line with what Zeisloft and Bielfeldt brought during their years in Bloomington.

Filed to:

  • Lance76

    Starting to balance the roster. I can see Langford inverting with Fitzner and Langford either posting up a smaller shooting guard or passing to Fitzner on the perimeter for three.

  • Banned on the Run

    Looks pretty smooth.

  • coachv

    crean should study the first two videos and see how to run your offense against a zone. perhaps he can spend a week in moraga this summer with bennet

  • Outoftheloop

    Both IU and Fitzner have a great opportunity! Now take advantage of it!

  • Jethro Jones

    This is small, but shows he’s got great fundamentals. He takes 1 or 2 steps to follow every shot for a rebound. Looking forward to watching him this coming season.

  • N71

    I was thinking his greatest value may be drawing an interior defender out away from the rim so Juwan isn’t double or tripled teamed. When Juwan is given room we know he gets it done. He was already a beast, one-on-one most possessions and I’m not sure what the ceiling looks like.

  • sd chuck

    I love how Archie operates, one of the big problems last year was inconsistent outside shooting, this guy is very much the outside shooter, and the freshmen should help also. Phinesse, damezi, Jerome, and Romeo all have shown they can shoot from out. That should not be a problem this year! Of course all will earn minutes on the floor with defense! Knocking down three’s will also help. I have to say this, They all need to hit FT’s much better if they are to advance in any tournament games. This starts with Juwan and DeRon!

  • #4 shorts

    Alex mentioned how EF said he can put it on the floor. I love that he can really utilize his length by getting from the perimeter to the hoop in one or two dribbles. Seems like a great addition.

  • coachv

    that particular skill should have been taught to watford. that really held him back

  • Steve Morgan

    The wrist cock back reminds me of Jordy’s shot- looks like a smooth effective shot. I have been dreaming of the pick and roll, Romeo with the ball, EF with the pick, Juwan coming from one corner, with Justin crashing from the other corner for a secondary pass/put back dunk. In my head, it works beautifully every time. And as a bonus, it puts less emphasis on the 1 for now! How long until the season starts?

  • coachv

    fitzner’s shooting form from outside is a little iffy but he’s making it work

  • John D Murphy

    Nice article Alex. Kid does have a nice shot

  • Mark Bando

    When we get in the tourney, his tourney experience will be helpful in our march to the final four (half kidding half serious on final four).

  • Tommy Morrsion

    He always got it stripped when trying to dribble in the lane. Very frustrating.

  • AndyCapp

    I thought I noticed that too. What’s he doing that seems so different? It’s not a smooth stroke by any definition

  • Donnie Vick

    Can he defend? Exciting to see a quality shooter coming into the program who has tourney experience.

  • iugradmark

    I think that is the big question. He played about 15 minutes per game at St. Mary’s and said that he lost his starting job because they played a lot of teams that went 3 guard and he was a liability on defense. I see him as a situational player when we need some outside shooting but his defense will determine how much he eventually plays.

  • oldiugymnast

    I thought he did okay against USF on D. I know one of the USF kids – local kid I have played lots of pick up ball while nearby (he is the skinny guard who tried to disrupt the last shot in the last video) – so I went to see the St. Mary’s game. He struggled if he got switched to the 1 or 2, but I don’t think that is especially surprising and something that can be avoided. He did fine against 3-4-5 – although USF’s 5 is not a BIG sized 5.

  • for whom the balls roll

    Ridiculous comparison.

  • Ole Man

    He lost his starting job because St. Mary’s brought in a near All American center.

  • TomEke

    Did my earlier comment get blocked Alex/Ole Man? Why?

  • Ole Man

    I just got on so I have no clue.

  • coachv

    nice “disfunctional” usage

  • coachv

    he’s loading up from the right shoulder for one thing. sometimes overextending his follow through and rotating his shoulders, but not always. haven’t really put a date to the highlights to see if it has improved through his college career. you should see how ugly it was in high school (youtube).

  • coachv

    that’s because he would lope through the lane when driving, so unsure of his ball handling he would try to protect the ball using his body as a shield. the result was a slow, uncertain attack rather that a forceful one. he usually took 3 dribbles to get to the basket. never should have been more than two dribbles from beyond the 3 pt line.

  • Arch Puddington

    Maybe, but the shot at Tom Crean is pretty gratuitous. Not relevant to this discussion, and wouldn’t be constructive even if it were. I like coachv, but this is just a cheap shot for its own sake.

  • coachv

    i used to go to some games at usf. miss the old neighborhood

  • TomEke

    Fitzner played for a 30 win team at St Mary’s last year. For reference, the last time an IU team won 30 games in a season was 1992-93. I was trying to think if anyone who transferred to IU between then and now would have been part of a 30 win team. I’m not saying the WCC is the B1G. However, winning is a habit and it will help this team to have a player who is used to winning on a regular basis. Juwan Morgan is the only player besides Fitzner currently on IU’s roster to have been a part of a 20 win team (once in 2015-2016) — Fitzner has been a part of 4 20 win teams (including a red shirt year).

    McKeon Pavilion, where St Mary’s plays home games, seats 3,500 people. This website says that would tie for the 95th largest high school gymnasium in the state of Indiana (http://indianahsbasketball.homestead.com/files/gyms.htm). He has played in bigger gymnasiums than that, but I was surprised at just how small St Mary’s home arena is.

    Fitzner played in a game against Archie’s Dayton team in 2016 — St Mary’s won the game, which was played at Dayton.

  • coachv

    highlights never show the misses

  • coachv

    nice use of the shot fake. perhaps he can teach the rest of his new team. also seems to know how to find the open spot and create a passing lane for himself. love having 23 year olds on the team.

  • coachv

    you are exactly right. i believe that is the thing archie was looking for

  • AndyCapp

    LOL, well I guess at 6′-10″ you don’t have to jump a lot to shoot 3’s

  • coachv

    robert horry

  • AndyCapp

    Seems to really push the ball off of his right arm. As you said, guess it is working for him.

  • for whom the balls roll

    Arch, really? Somebody pinch me. LOL.

  • for whom the balls roll

    Definitely working, he’s a 100% shooter, judging from the videos. LOL.

  • coachv

    one thing no one has speculated. would if miller brought fitzner on board because he knows morgan is not coming back?

  • for whom the balls roll

    No, please. Leave me in blissful ignorance. There’s enough for me to handle in my life right now.

  • coachv

    me too. my palm trees are dying

  • for whom the balls roll

    Palm trees? In Indiana?

  • AndyCapp

    Mine too, of course, I live in Montana so to be expected 😉

  • coachv

    funny how in this thread some are saying it’s smooth while others are saying it’s not smooth

  • AndyCapp

    Yup, that’s pretty speculative! More likely he wanted some more height because he is not sure when DD will be ready.

  • AndyCapp

    Shot faking is a lost art it seems but both Romeo and Fitzner do it effectively. Maybe these two will rub off on some of the other players!

  • John D Murphy

    True. But some shots look better. His form has a little hitch but the ball flight looks really good

  • John D Murphy

    I think BYU has the only B1G comparable arena and attendance in the WCC

  • SCHoosier

    If this kid can hold his own on defense and rough it up on the B-10 boards….he’s going to demand some minutes.

  • RonMlarkey

    More likely that he doesn’t have a lot of faith in DD being able to contribute much this season.

  • for whom the balls roll

    It’s almost like how a guy would shoot if you told him he wasn’t allowed to jump. LOL. Not sure how to describe it in more basketball terms.

  • Alexander Supertramp

    Nope.