The Daily Hoosier spent the week down in The Bahamas in connection with IU basketball’s foreign tour and had several opportunities to see the team in action. Since nothing was televised and not everything was public, we are going to go player-by-player in jersey number order to share our thoughts on what we saw and what to expect from Indiana’s 2021-22 roster.
With a lot of new players on the 2021-22 roster, one of many things IU basketball fans were curious about when it came to the foreign tour was the starting lineup. Before the trip head coach Mike Woodson said only Trayce Jackson-Davis had locked-up a spot in the first five, while the other four spots were up for grabs.
Parker Stewart jumped on the opportunity to walk out for the jump ball with strong performances at a pair of closed scrimmages just before the trip when he made 7-of-10 3-pointers over the two games. Ostensibly that was enough to push Stewart into the starting five, and it won’t be a surprise if his ability as a shot-maker at Indiana will correlate to his minutes throughout the 2021-22 campaign.
Stewart didn’t shoot the ball well in The Bahamas, making just 23 percent of his attempts overall and just 2-of-10 from long range. Shooting is his advantage over the two players he seems to be competing with the most for minutes — Tamar Bates and Trey Galloway. It seems clear after watching all three at the Atlantis Resort that Bates and Galloway are the more dynamic, athletic and versatile players, but shot-making is the wildcard. And if Mike Woodson’s starting lineup is any indication — it is the trump card.
The 6-foot-5 Stewart has had a very interesting college basketball career to this point. Despite being 23 years-old, he has only played two seasons — 2017-18 at Pittsburgh and 2019-20 at UT-Martin for his late father Anthony Stewart. In those two seasons he shot 36.6 percent from three on 388 attempts, including 38.6 percent as a freshman in the ACC.
If The Bahamas is a good indicator, and his career to this point suggests that it is, Stewart is a player whose fortunes will rise and fall with his shooting performance from behind-the-arc. He doesn’t have the look of a player who will be a major threat to attack off the dribble whether in transition or the half court. Instead, Stewart is a classic off-the-ball wing, constantly looking for space in the defense to spot up for catch-and-shoot opportunities. When those shots are falling like they did in the scrimmages, he is a game-changer. When they aren’t, the question will be whether he brings enough to the table to keep Bates and Galloway off the floor.
One of the outlier stats from The Bahamas was Stewart’s five steals in the first game. He had a good matchup against Malcolm Cazalon, a 19 year-old player from France who had his name on the NBA Draft early entry list at one point this summer. Stewart is average moving laterally, and Cazalon got past him a few times. But Stewart has very active hands and he was able to generate a couple of steals when Cazalon tried to take him off the bounce.
Stewart will be a physical defender who gives high-end effort and has good awareness, but despite the five steals we’d give the edge to Bates and Galloway on that end of the floor. Despite that, Indiana played very well defensively as a team with him on the floor in a touch matchup, so it isn’t like he projects as a weak link. Stewart is quiet on the court, but he is smart, active and in the right spots on defense.
Long term it would be a surprise if Stewart held on to the starting job unless it turns out that he just can’t miss from three-point range. We’ll talk more about Tamar Bates in our final edition of this series, but the freshman guard appears to have a more complete game. But with Indiana playing positionless four-out basketball, Stewart is going to get plenty of opportunities for heat checks from behind-the-arc whether he starts or comes off the bench.
If anyone deserves a bit of patience and the benefit of the doubt as he rounds into form — it’s Stewart. He hasn’t played a game in 17 months, he’s only played two seasons in the last four years, and he’s dealing with the loss of his father in November. That Woodson and the staff already had the faith to run him out there as a starter in August speaks volumes.
Indiana’s nonconference schedule doesn’t have too many major challenges, and that should allow Stewart plenty of time to fully get back into form and re-establish himself heading into Big Ten play. There he could play a key role in helping IU re-establish itself in the upper third of the league.
PARKER STEWART’S STATS IN THE BAHAMAS
- Game one: 24 minutes, 3 points, 1-5 FG, 1-3 3FG, 0-0 FT, 1 rebound, 1 assists, 1 turnovers, 0 blocks, 5 steals
- Game two: 26 minutes, 5 points, 2-8 FG, 1-7 3FG, 0-0 FT, 2 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 turnovers, 0 blocks, 0 steals
- Averages: 25 minutes, 4.0 points, 23.1% FG, 20% 3 FG, NA FT, 1.5 rebounds, .5 assists, .5 turnovers, 0 blocks, 2.5 steals
More Bahamas player reviews:
- Xavier Johnson
- Rob Phinisee
- Khristian Lander
- Miller Kopp
- Jordan Geronimo
- Trayce Jackson-Davis
- Race Thompson
- Trey Galloway
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