The NCAA made the peculiar decision to open the transfer portal the day after the NCAA Tournament field was announced.
Yes, the portal opened for undergraduates on Monday, just as 68 staffs around the country are preparing for their opening round games in the Big Dance.
For Indiana and every other program in the NCAA field, this week will be about dividing up and conquering both the NCAA Tournament and the transfer portal.
So that means we’ve got to dual-track it too.
We’ll call this our “lay of the land” post, to be followed up with all of the notable portal activity involving Indiana.
As you likely know, the Hoosiers have a full allotment of 13 scholarship players this season, but significant change is expected.
Here’s what we know right now:
OUT OF ELIGIBILITY
These are the only two scholarship players who are 100 percent gone for certain — because they’ve used up all of their college eligibility.
- Race Thompson
- Miller Kopp
ELIGIBLE TO RETURN BUT LIKELY HEADED TO NBA
While these two are technically able to return, both are rising up NBA Draft boards. It would be a major surprise to see either of this dynamic duo back in Bloomington.
- Trayce Jackson-Davis
- Jalen Hood-Schifino
Already you can see, Indiana is a virtual lock to lose four of its starting five from this season.
SEEKING MEDICAL REDSHIRT
As you know by now, Xavier Johnson opted to not return late this season, and instead he will seek a medical redshirt.
- Xavier Johnson
That leaves eight scholarship players with no strings attached, save for the possibility that they enter the transfer portal.
And let’s just be honest, not all from this group are likely to return next season. Indiana had four go into the portal after last season. That’s just the reality of college basketball in 2023:
ELIGIBLE TO RETURN
- Anthony Leal
- Malik Reneau
- Kaleb Banks
- C.J. Gunn
- Jordan Geronimo
- Trey Galloway
- Logan Duncomb
- Tamar Bates
FRESHMEN IN 2023-24
Indiana currently has two high school recruits signed and expected to join the team this summer.
- Gabe Cupps
- Jakai Newton
It is worth at least mentioning that Indiana has signed two high school players (Bates and Reneau) in the spring following coaching changes. So that remains a possibility once again this year, in addition to the transfer portal.
If we go with the assumption Xavier Johnson will return next season for Indiana, here is how the roster would stack up positionally:
- C/PF- Reneau, Duncomb
- F – Geronimo, Banks
- SG – Bates, Leal, Gunn, Newton
- SG/PG – Galloway
- PG – Johnson, Cupps
On its face, that looks like a reasonably balanced roster, at least positionally.
What is obvious and glaring when it comes to the gaps in that group is any kind of proven ability to be a primary scoring option at the high major level of college basketball.
Jackson-Davis has a usage rate (possessions ending in their makes, misses with no offensive rebounds, and turnovers) higher than 30 percent, and Hood-Schifino higher than 25 percent. They rank No. 30 and 336 in the country, respectively, according to that metric. Additionally, they are on the floor at the same time almost all of the time, so there is a massive void to fill. And if you count assists and quality shots created by the pair, the hole grows even wider.
So if you go with the assumption Indiana will have an experienced anchor at point guard (Johnson) and in the post (Reneau), then it becomes clear where they need to focus — versatile scorers/shooters on the wing, including out to the power forward position. That seems like an obvious area of focus we will see over the next few weeks.
The portal is always open for graduate transfers, and already with the pursuit of Harvard’s Chris Ledlum, you see the staff trending in the direction of primary scoring wings. We expect you’ll see a few other players in the versatile scoring mold emerge as IU targets in the near term.
Who else Indiana starts pursuing aggressively will also tell a story.
If they go hard after a point guard, that could suggest they have doubts about Johnson’s return.
If they go hard after a traditional center, that could suggest they have doubts about either Reneau or Duncomb, although true Big Ten size and length is still a need going forward.
Of course once Indiana’s season ends we’ll start to get some answers — if and when any of their own players enter the portal.
However it goes, expect a wild ride. Indiana didn’t add anyone from the portal a year ago. But they are almost certain to bring in a few fresh faces from the college ranks this time.
And that is going to make for an active spring.
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