The 2020-21 Indiana University men’s basketball season is right around the corner. To help get you ready, The Daily Hoosier is profiling every scholarship player on the IU roster. Indiana’s season is expected to begin on Nov. 25.
Indiana landed their top recruiting target in the class of 2021, and they got him with an added bonus.
Evansville, Ind. point guard Khristian Lander reclassified to the class of 2020, and the 5-star recruit immediately gives IU’s backcourt a major boost.
Head coach Archie Miller had prioritized Lander since he was a skinny high school freshman with loads of potential.
Now ready to make his debut in Bloomington, Lander has added muscle and looks ready to be a significant contributor from day one.
- Height: 6-foot-2
- Weight: 185
- Position: Guard
- Class: Freshman
- Hometown: Evansville, Indiana
- High School: Reitz
Lander was rated as the No. 26 player in the Class of 2020 by Rivals.com and 27th by 247Sports and ESPN. He scored 1,314 points in his career and averaged 21 points, 6 rebounds and 4.6 rebounds last season, leading Reitz to a sectional title.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
Head coach Archie Miller —
“He’s going to be that young guy you coach hard,” Miller said. “You’re going to push him, but you want to push him through mistakes as well and get his confidence up. Don’t let him worry about what the expectations are of him as a five-star guy.”
Junior point guard Rob Phinisee on having a second primary ball handler on the roster —
“I think we’ll complement each other pretty well,” Phinisee said. “He’s very quick. He likes to take ball screens. I feel like in the new offense we have, we’ll be able to play together and create for each other. It’s going to help a lot, just having another primary ballhandler allows me to be more off the ball. That will allow me to create more and do more things on offense.”
Sophomore forward Trayce Jackson-Davis on playing with Lander —
“With him at the point I can come up and set high ball screens and wing ball screens and he can come off and make plays,” Jackson-Davis said. “He’s doing really well already for a freshman to make plays off the dribble.”
WHAT 2020-21 SUCCESS LOOKS LIKE
Lander’s talent is undeniable, but the highest value he brings to Indiana in year one is adding a second true primary ball handler to the roster. That’s something IU hasn’t had during Archie Miller’s tenure in Bloomington.
The addition of Lander has already caused Miller to shift his overall approach for the upcoming season, with a more guard oriented, spread-out and up-tempo attack expected. That is particularly noteworthy because Miller won at Dayton with much more guard oriented lineups.
The first order of business will be to take care of the basketball. That won’t be easy for an especially young freshman in the rough and tumble Big Ten. Miller said in October that he wants to keep turnovers down to 10 to 12 a game this year. It will be a challenge for Lander to deliver the tempo Miller wants while not turning it over. Staying under an average of 2 turnovers per game and improving over the course of the season should be the goal.
Lander improved to become a good three-point shooter in high school, finishing 41 percent from behind the arc as a junior. But fans shouldn’t expect him to come in above 40 percent early in his career from long range. Anything north of 35 percent would be a nice addition to the offense and help accomplish the goal of spacing the floor.
How many minutes per game will Lander average? We expect him to progressively see his minutes tick up over the course of the season. If he averages 20 to 22 per game that likely means he had a strong freshman season. Anything more than 25 a game and you know Lander hit it out of the park in year one.
If Lander can average 8 to 10 points per game while shooting above 42 percent overall he will be a key contributor on the offensive end. A 2-to-1 assist to turnover ratio might be asking too much, but something better than 1.5-to-1 would be a success. Lander’s ability as a passer is underrated and he is at his best attacking off the dribble. It won’t be a surprise to see him facilitate more than score early on.
Lander’s versatility will be a key. Can he play both on and off the ball alongside Phinisee? The combination of the two together on the floor would seem to maximize Indiana’s talent and make the Hoosiers much more of a transition threat.
A freshman stat line along these lines won’t be a surprise: 22 mpg, 9 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3 apg, 1.8 tpg, 43 fg%, 34 3fg%.
But beyond stats, Lander’s value will be evident if he can help deliver the elusive up-tempo approach that Miller has desired since he arrived at IU in 2017.
Of course there is the defensive end as well. Lander has good length and lateral quickness to be disruptive on the ball. And his speed will be an asset when helping and recovering off the ball. Lander is by all accounts a good student of the game that will buy-in on defense, but projecting a freshman on that end is never easy.
Success on the defensive end might simply be that Lander has the versatility to guard effectively both on and off the ball, and that he picks up all of the ball screen coverage and help and recover concepts early so that mistakes are kept to a minimum. If he can do that, Lander’s speed, athleticism and instincts should take care of the rest.
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