With Indiana’s offseason roster changes behind us, we bring back our annual tradition of taking a closer look at the players expected to return to the program.
Next up is Jordan Geronimo, who is training for his third year with IU basketball.
THE 2021-22 NUMBERS
Geronimo played in 34 games off the bench, missing just the Big Ten Tournament semifinal contest against Iowa after suffering an injury the day before. The New Jersey product averaged 4.4 points and 3.6 rebounds while playing 12.6 minutes per contest. He tied for second on the team with 24 blocked shots.
Perhaps most noteworthy, Geronimo was seventh in the Big Ten in blocks and rebounds on a per-40 minute basis.
Geronimo also had the highest offensive rebounding rate on the team, and the second highest defensive rebounding and block rates.
After making 59.1 percent of his 2-point shots and 31 percent (9-of-29) from three, Geronimo had the third highest effective field goal percentage on the team (55.9 percent).
WHAT WENT WELL
Geronimo has always had a high ceiling with a long-term horizon, and he took positive steps forward late in the season. He had 10 points in 13 minutes at Minnesota, averaged 12 points and 6.5 rebounds in the two NCAA Tournament games, and Geronimo had two blocks and was on the floor as part of an elite team defensive effort as IU rallied against Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament.
The name of Geronimo’s game is hustle, and as his per-40 numbers suggest, he was able to make an impact in numerous ways when he saw the floor — from rebounds and blocks, to more difficult to measure aspects like deflections, soaring close-outs, and he had at least six offensive rebounds on free throws including one he smacked off the floor and into the hoop.
Something else difficult to measure that we liked about Geronimo — the moment never seemed to big. Although he only made nine threes, they seemed to come at big moments, such as in the second half against St. John’s to break a tie, and another against Ohio State to tie the game.
OFFSEASON DEVELOPMENTAL NEEDS
1. Develop more perimeter skills. It’s no secret, Indiana has a crowded and talented frontcourt with Trayce Jackson-Davis, Race Thompson, Malik Reneau, and Logan Duncomb all in the mix at the four and five spots. To this point in his career Geronimo has functioned primarily as a power forward, but in order to truly maximize his playing time he would do well to develop a skillset that allows him to play the three or the four along with talented freshman Kaleb Banks.
Indiana started Miller Kopp throughout the 2021-22 season at the three spot for one primary reason — his shooting ability. Geronimo can overtake him if he can improve upon his career 33.3 percent mark from long range on higher volume. Kopp isn’t particularly strong off the dribble, so that is another area where Geronimo can cut into his playing time if he develops. It will go a long way if he can dribble drive with both hands, and complement that with an array of counter moves.
Already Geronimo is a better lateral defender and far better rebounder than Kopp, so there is a foundation to build from — but skill development is the name of the game.
2. Expand beyond doing “Geronimo things.” Last season Geronimo said he was asked to do “Geronimo things” to stay on the floor — like creating havoc with rebounding and defense. IU will need all of that from him once again. But that’s more “spark off the bench” stuff rather than the starting five.
Indiana’s offense will run through Xavier Johnson and Trayce Jackson-Davis, but the Hoosiers will need additional consistent scoring threats. We’ve seen hints of Geronimo’s ability from three, the midrange, and he’s a force on put backs. He had four double-digit scoring games during the season including a career-best 15 against Wyoming.
Can Geronimo become someone who actually scores more within the offense on a consistent basis playing off of Jackson-Davis and Johnson? Someone who can make defenses pay in multiple ways for an overemphasis on others? It ties into developing on the perimeter, but there is a clear opportunity for someone to step into a consistent volume scoring role from the wing. It’s what was missing last year when Parker Stewart and Kopp both averaged around six points per contest.
3. Polish the details. There are holes in Geronimo’s game that he has to clean up. At 4.6 per 40, he fouls too much. He frequently made bad passes and had a 21.3 percent turnover rate, highest among the forwards on the team. Geronimo also had the lowest assist rate on the team, and he shot just 56.8 percent from the free throw line. None of that stuff was a major issue for someone playing 12 minutes and providing a spark off the bench, but those are all limiting factors when it comes to trying to carve-out a much larger role.
WHAT SUCCESS LOOK LIKE IN 2022-23
Geronimo still has three years of eligibility remaining, so this isn’t a decisive season. But he arrived at IU as someone looked upon to really start to emerge by year three.
One thing is certain, Geronimo’s path to the floor is full of competition. He isn’t going to see even 15-20 minutes a game unless he earns it. He is either going to have to do things better than both veteran Thompson and 5-star Reneau, or be able to function as a modern three on both ends and surpass Kopp.
If Geronimo can get to 20 minutes a game while averaging eight efficient points and five rebounds, his junior season would be a major step forward and set him up for an even more substantial opportunity when the frontcourt veterans move on.
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