After receiving a commitment from Romeo Langford on Monday night, Indiana is down to one remaining open scholarship on its 2018-19 roster. With the top class of 2018 high school kids committed elsewhere, the logical move to fill this spot (if they fill it at all) is the graduate transfer market. Enter Evan Fitzner, a 6’10”, 230 pound redshirt senior to-be from St. Mary’s.
It has been an interesting career thus far for the San Diego native. He played his most minutes during his freshman year (2015-16), where he averaged 23.4 minutes, 8.7 points and 4.4 rebounds. He shot 41% from distance that year on nearly 4 attempts per game.
His minutes declined during his sophomore and junior seasons, and ultimately he lost his starting role. He played around 15 minutes per game the last two years, contributing around 5 points and 3 rebounds. The one constant even with fewer minutes has been perimeter shooting. Fitzner has shot better than 40% from 3-point range in each of his three seasons with the Gaels.
Now you might wonder, why is Indiana taking a look at a guy that isn’t starting for St. Mary’s, a team that plays in the West Coast Conference. First, as you may know, St. Mary’s is year in and year out a good team and a respectable program, despite playing in a non-power 5 league.
Second, the Hoosiers wouldn’t be looking for a guy to come in and start and play 30 minutes a game here. The role likely envisioned for Fitzner would be someone who could play 15 minutes a game, and really spread out the defense to create openings for guys like Juwan Morgan and Romeo Langford to attack the rim. With De’Ron Davis coming back from a serious injury, Fitzner’s 6’10” frame could add insurance defending the post as well.
Moreover, Fitzner’s 3-point shooting capabilities would be a huge asset for a team that still could use proven perimeter shooters. It is a bit dated, but this brief video will give you a sense for his capabilities shooting the ball:
Finally, as a graduate transfer with one year of eligibility remaining, Indiana wouldn’t be taking a long term gamble. They have the open spot for next season, and Fitzner fills a need. Sometimes it is just that simple.
The situation is actually quite similar to a couple years ago when Max Bielfeldt joined IU as a grad transfer. He was never a starter at Michigan, and played only 14 minutes a game during his final season in Ann Arbor, averaging 5 points and 3.6 rebounds. While he became a solid 3-point shooter with the Hoosiers, that wasn’t something that he brought with him from the Wolverines. So you could argue that Fitzner is a more proven commodity, although he admittedly has been playing in a lower-tier conference.
The discussions between Fitzner and Indiana have been just that — only discussions. We are not aware of any offers at this time. Reports have indicated that mid-majors are pursuing Fitzner as well, so at least on his end, it may come down to a decision between playing a on a high profile team on national television, or trying to secure a more significant role for his final season.
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