Don’t take this the wrong way.
Keion Brooks, Jr. is a big miss for Archie Miller. A huge miss, as any in-state five-star recruit would be.
But if, and this is a big if — IF Jerome Hunter is back and ready to go next fall, Brooks Jr. wasn’t the biggest need for Indiana in 2018-19. Not even close.
Based on what we’ve been told, Hunter doesn’t have an injury, but a medical condition. That’s the if part of it.
We don’t know for sure that the Ohio native will be able to play next year, but things certainly seem to be trending that way.
As of a couple weeks ago, Hunter wasn’t yet practicing with the team, but he has participated in individual on-court training sessions according to Miller, who indicated that he is happy with his progress through the rehab process.
If he can go, Hunter will return as a redshirt freshman for the 2019-20 season. Widely expected to see big minutes this year, the 6-foot-8 forward has the potential to start at the wing next year.
While both Hunter and Brooks could have been on the floor at the same time, neither is a natural “2” or “4”, so they would have for the most part been competing for minutes or playing out of position in the Big Ten.
With Romeo Langford almost certainly headed to the NBA and Indiana unable to drop perimeter shots in the ocean, what this team undoubtedly needs is a two guard, and specifically shooters. Lots and lots of shooters.
While Devonte Green’s progress has been encouraging, one consistent shooter is not enough. Green is 34 of 75 (45.3%) over his last 18 games. That’s about as good as you could expect from anyone. But as a team, Indiana needs an arsenal of shooters. That is what you see across the successful teams of college basketball today.
They have their point guard of the future in Rob Phinisee. Green and Al Durham provide solid depth. But to truly fill out the backcourt Indiana needs a couple shooting specialists.
In the frontcourt the core next year seems to be Hunter, De’Ron Davis, Race Thompson, Justin Smith and Trayce Jackson-Davis.
WHAT’S NEXT IN THE CLASS OF 2019
Assuming Langford goes to the NBA and there are no transfers, Indiana will have one open scholarship for next season. Here’s the latest on where they are focusing their attention.
Harlond Beverly – The 4-star top 100 combo guard visited Indiana for the Michigan State game. The recruiting services reported that he walked away impressed and appears likely to be back for an official visit. IU has a reasonable shot here. We should know more over the next month.
Lester Quinones – There is probably no player in the 2019 class that best fits IU’s immediate needs than Quinones. The Hoosiers were late in this recruitment but Miller has been down to visit in recent weeks and the issues at LSU, the perceived favorite, give Indiana an opening. Maryland and Memphis are likely the leaders, but if IU can get the shooting guard in for a visit they’ll have a chance. Quinones is on an official visit at Memphis this weekend.
Tre Mitchell – The Pittsburgh area forward recently included Indiana his final six. Indiana found out this year that you can never have enough big, physical bodies in the paint. At 6-foot-9 and 235 pounds, Mitchell has the frame to become a presence in college.
While Trendon Watford and Matthew Hurt are technically still on the board, it is our understanding that Indiana is no longer involved in their recruitment.
Beyond high school seniors, Indiana could also look to round out its roster via the transfer route. That option generally has three alternatives — immediately eligible graduate and junior college transfers, and traditional transfers that would have to sit out a year.
Brian Snow, of the 247Sports recruiting service, said this ($) earlier in the week about Indiana exploring potential transfers:
“I expect a few names familiar to Indiana fans to end up in the transfer portal over the next few weeks. While there is no guarantee that any of those players will end up in Bloomington, I think the Hoosiers will take a long look at numerous players either as a traditional sit out transfer or an immediately eligible graduate transfer,” Snow said.
Once the season ends for more and more teams look for names to pop up in the NCAA’s transfer portal, which is a public database of players that have declared their intent to transfer and are free to be contacted by coaches.
On the junior college front, one name that has come up is Sean McNeil. Indiana has expressed interest but we are not sure that there is anything more to it than that at this point.
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