Michelle Pemberton/IndyStar

Indiana Basketball 2018-19 Player Previews: Evan Fitzner

The 2018-19 Indiana University men’s basketball season is right around the corner.  To help get you ready, The Daily Hoosier is profiling every player on the 2018-19 IU roster.  You can see all of our 2018-19 player profiles in one place here.  If you are looking for the 2018-19 IU basketball schedule, you can find that here.


When graduate transfer Evan Fitzner committed to Indiana back in May, it felt to many like an afterthought.  It has, after all, been an interesting college career for the San Diego native.

Fitzner played his most minutes during his redshirt freshman year (2015-16), where he averaged 23.4 minutes, 8.7 points and 4.4 rebounds.  He shot 41% from distance that year on nearly 4 attempts per game.

His minutes declined during his sophomore and junior seasons, and after starting in every game the first two seasons, he ultimately he lost that starting role.  The Gaels had lost two games in a row early in the 2017-18 season, and there was some rumblings about the need to improve defensively.

Fitzner played around 15 minutes per game the last two years, contributing around 5 points and 3 rebounds.

The one constant even with fewer minutes has been perimeter shooting.  Fitzner shot better than 40% from 3-point range in each of his three seasons with the Gaels.  If you attended Hoosier Hysteria or have watched video from that day, you saw his ability from long range first hand.

Whatever people thought about Fitzner back in May, the decision to offer him the scholarship just made sense.  It is a one-and-done situation, so even in the worst case there is no long term risk with tying up a scholarship.

The reality is shaping up to be much better.

ESSENTIALS

Evan Fitzner
Photo Credit: IU Athletics
  • Height:  6-foot-10
  • Weight:  225
  • Position:  Forward
  • Class:  (RS) Senior
  • Hometown:  San Diego, California
  • High School:  Francis Parker

2017-18 STATISTICS (at St. Mary’s)

  • Minutes per game:  15.6
  • Points per game:  5.0
  • Rebounds per game:  2.8
  • Assists per game:  .3
  • Blocks per game:  .2
  • FG%:  48.2%
  • 3FG%:  40.0%
  • FT%:  86.4%

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING

Archie Miller on Fitzner at the IU media day —

“Evan is a fantastic kid. He’s a fantastic player. Couldn’t be more excited he decided to join us, and I would say of all of our additions, he may be the most important just due to the age that he comes with, the experience level in college basketball’s big scene, by winning as many games as he’s won, and he brings an offensive skill set that maybe, like you said, was lacking a little bit from the ability to maybe have a fourth shooter on the floor, fifth shooter on the floor. I definitely think he’s a bona fide game three-point shooter. His percentages stay that way, and then watching him work out, he’s very serious about his game. He just brings another mature winning approach, and I think he’ll be a home run in terms of to our fan base and to his teammates and everyone. He’s just a really, really likable guy that we’re excited to have.”

VIDEO

WHAT 2018-19 SUCCESS LOOKS LIKE

What success looks like for Evan Fitzner this year is a seemingly evolving opinion.

From “Hmmm, not sure about this guy” back in May, to “Could this guy start” today — the truth is probably somewhere in between.  In any case, it now seems certain that he will have a role.

With depth in front court, the Hoosiers aren’t looking for Fitzner to come in and play 30 minutes a game.

The role likely envisioned for Fitzner would be someone who could play 15 to 20 minutes as a stretch-4, and really spread out the defense to create openings for guys like Juwan Morgan and Romeo Langford to attack the rim.

With De’Ron Davis still coming back from a serious injury, Fitzner’s 6-foot-10 frame can add insurance defending the post as well.  His ability to defend, especially in the Big Ten, will likely dictate the extent of his minutes.  We’ve seen enough of Miller to know that defensive liabilities will not be tolerated.

Speaking of Davis, he noted that there is more to Fitzner’s game than just being a 3-point specialist, saying this at the IU media day —

“He gets to the rim real smoothly. I think he’s going to be able to spread the floor, and I think people underestimate his postgame, too.  He has a real smooth and like majestic postgame.”

That kind of versatility would certainly seem to suggest a bigger role for Fitzner, especially as Davis continues to round himself back into form.

If Fitzner can pull together a Max Bielfeldt-esque single season at IU (8.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 45% from 3-point range), that would have to go down as an unmitigated success for both him and IU.  Those numbers might be the ceiling for Fitzner, but they don’t seem to be completely outside the realm of reasonableness.


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