That’s A Wrap: Anthony Leal

  • 04/25/2024 8:09 am in

Welcome to “That’s A Wrap,” our player-by-player recap of the 2023-24 Indiana Hoosiers. Today: Anthony Leal.

Leal (21 games): 2.4 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 44.4 FG% in 14.7 minutes per game.

Previously: Gabe Cupps, Mackenzie Mgbako, Malik Reneau, Kel’el Ware, Kaleb Banks, CJ Gunn, Payton Sparks, Trey Galloway

A Bloomington native and a fan favorite since stepping on campus in the summer of 2020, Anthony Leal made his biggest on-court contributions as a Hoosier in the 2023-24 season.

While his role was limited in the team’s first 19 games – he logged minutes in just seven of those contests – Leal was an essential part of the IU rotation from January 27 onward.

Over IU’s final 14 contests, Leal logged double-figure minutes 13 times and had several key moments in terms of production.

He poured in a career-best 13 points in a 74-68 home win against Iowa on Jan. 30, splashing in three triples to the delight of the Assembly Hall faithful.

“I gave him the game ball after the game,” Mike Woodson said after the victory. “I thought he was huge – 13 points, seven rebounds. I mean, defended his ass off. It was a nice carry-over because I thought he played well in the Illinois game. That’s why we elected him to come in early and play him and he responded for us which was kind of nice.”

Just a week later, Leal’s corner 3-pointer against Ohio State in Columbus proved to be the game-winner, a pivotal moment that saw the Hoosiers overcome an 18-point second-half deficit to secure a 76-73 victory.

And in the Big Ten tournament, Leal’s late putback layup against Penn State lifted Indiana to a 61-59 victory and into the quarterfinals of the event in Minneapolis.

His overall statistics were meager – Leal totaled 51 points all season – but going with the Bloomington native late in the season for extended minutes was a net positive for the program. Despite lacking in athleticism, he made up for it with hustle and headiness on the court.

Leal got beat at times defensively but was always in the right spot on the floor, barking out instructions to his teammates or calling out actions as an extension of the coaching staff.

His 3-point shooting was a weapon despite his limited usage. Leal finished the season 9-for-19 on 3s (47.4 percent) and 7-for-17 in Big Ten play (41.2 percent). There’s a strong argument Indiana should have looked for him more on the perimeter and Leal probably could have been more aggressive in seeking out shots, too.

On IU’s senior day against Michigan State at Assembly Hall, Leal announced that he would return to Bloomington for a fifth season and utilize his extra year of eligibility granted due to COVID-19.

Bottom line: Leal has always been ready to play when his number is called despite having a limited on-court role for his first four seasons. That limited role will likely continue next winter as Indiana has recruited guard reinforcements from the transfer portal who will command major minutes. But Leal will continue to be a staple of the program on and off the court regardless of his spot in the rotation. He’s a leader in the locker room and when he’s put in the game, there’s never a doubt he’ll be ready to go.

Quotable: “Where I come from in the NBA, you call that a true pro. And Anthony is the ultimate teammate, man, in terms of just hanging in there with me. And I’ve coached him and he’s come to practice every day and has done what’s asked of him and never complained, not once. He’s been a true, true teammate. And guys like that, it’s easy to coach. It’s easy to throw them in the game and feel good about it because you know what you’re going to get based on how he performs in practice. And he’s earned the right to play, and that’s why I’m playing him.” – Woodson on Leal following IU’s win against Iowa.

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