Khristian Lander decided the day after Archie Miller was fired that he would do this, and on Friday morning he decided it was time to make it official.
According to his father Keith, the Indiana freshman point guard called him Friday and then called IU athletic director Scott Dolson to inform him that he would be entering the transfer portal. However, he also told Dolson that like four of the other five players Indiana players who have entered the transfer portal since Miller’s firing, he too would consider returning to Indiana if he considered himself a good fit with the new coach.
“It’s really like the other guys,” Keith Lander said. “Just want to make sure that you’re covering your bases and if things aren’t a good fit when you bring a new coach in, you just have a Plan B. Honestly, he went to IU for a reason. He wants to be there, but at the end of the day if that’s not the best fit for him, we’re going to have to do what’s best for him. We don’t have any real clue who they’re going to get. They have some good candidates that they’re looking at, but at the end of the day, it’s about fit and about him fitting into the future of what his vision is.”
As a five-star recruit who reclassified to join the program in 2020, keeping Lander will presumably be a priority for any new coach, but his freshman year was a rocky one and he averaged just 10.2 minutes per game off the bench. He showed impressive flashes as a passer with 30 assists in 26 games and his ability to break down defenses off the dribble was evident. However, he had struggles on defense and with his shot, both at the rim and outside. He made just 18 of his 70 field goal attempts (25.7 percent), including 12 of 44 3-pointers (27.3 percent). The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder had such hard luck even making layups that he didn’t score a two-point basket from Nov. 25 to Feb. 27 and was 6 of 26 from 2-point range for the year.
“It was a rough year for him mentally,” Keith said. “He lost confidence. Especially at the beginning of the year. I’d say by the end of the year, even though it was still kind of funny with the time he was playing, he’d play 16 minutes one game and four the next, it was kind of weird. But at the end of the day, I think he lost his confidence for a long period of time during the season.”
That being said, Keith said neither Khristian nor his family have any regrets about him deciding to forego his senior year at Evansville Reitz to begin his college play early, because ultimately the rough times will make him a better player.
“Honestly, if we had to do it all over again, it sounds kind of weird, but we would,” Keith said. “I think that he gained more by going through this year, even the ups and downs mentally and all that, he gained a lot by going through that and growing a lot as a young man and as a basketball player. I don’t think he would have got that staying in high school. That was the purpose of leaving high school early. And also, I think he got a better opportunity than going to prep school, just for the simple fact that he was practicing against Big Ten players on a daily basis and that lifestyle of being in college. I don’t think you could replace that by going anywhere else but college.”
He would, however, have liked to have had a little more freedom to play through mistakes, Keith said. Between Dec. 13 and Jan. 24 he never played double figure minutes and he was more effective down the stretch once he did. And from the next coach, he wants to know that he’s an offensive fit.
“He wants a guy that’s going to hold him accountable as well as the rest of the team,” Keith said. “But also have a true identity of what you want to do on offense. More of an open, free-flow offense, but also have an idea of what you actually want to get done when you come down the court. It seemed like lot of times this year, there was confusion a lot of times and there could be a lot of factors involved. I’m not blaming it on anybody other than that’s what it looked like on the court. That’s what the results were.”
Keith said his son was not given any indication as to the direction of the head coaching search at this time, other than Dolson saying he has several good candidates.
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