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Five important questions still to be answered for Indiana basketball



Indiana basketball head coach Mike Woodson (R) and assistant coach Yasir Rosemond (L) in the second half against the Kent State Golden Flashes at MVP Arena. Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana basketball is heading into the next phase of the season next week. The transfer window closes May 11, meaning nobody else can enter the transfer portal. That means the pool of players in the portal come that date, is the group of players to pick from if a team still needs to add to its roster.

For the Hoosiers, they have been extremely involved in the portal this offseason — adding three transfers. But, there are still some needs to their roster heading into the summer.

In a month, Indiana’s two-man 2023 recruiting class of Gabe Cupps and Jakai Newton will join the team in Bloomington.

There are still two scholarships available for the Indiana basketball program.

With that, here are five important questions still to be answered moving into the summer.

Where does Indiana go for shooting?

There’s no question that this is the biggest storyline and question mark about the Indiana basketball roster right now. The Hoosiers go into the close of the transfer window with no added depth to its backcourt. And, as of right now, have seen its shooting regress from last season with no addition.

Indiana shot 36.8 percent from three this season but ranked 353rd nationally in attempted 3s per game (15.5) and 334th in made 3s per game (5.7). Those numbers translated into the fourth best percentage in the Big Ten, but the least amount of made 3s on the season.

The Hoosiers missed on some of their key transfer targets on the perimeter and are now a bit behind the eight-ball.

There are still options, however. Indiana is going to be involved with Penn transfer Jordan Dingle. He’s averaged 2.5 made 3s per game for his career and an average of 66 made 3s a year.

On the wing, there is the option of 2023 five-star forward Mackenzie Mgbako. Mgbako is a shooting forward who has made 76 3s in the past two seasons for Roselle Catholic (NJ).

Outside of those two, Xavier Johnson returns as a 38 percent shooter in his Indiana career — on just 2.7 attempts per game, however.

Indiana needs shooting desperately and someone who can come in and be a high volume shooter.

What development does Malik Reneau make?

With the departure of Trayce Jackson-Davis, Malik Reneau is looked at as the guy who can step in and replace some of the production. He averaged 16.5 points 10.0 rebounds and shot 53.3 percent for his per 40 minute numbers. The biggest thing for the rising sophomore, however, is foul trouble.

His per 40 minute average of fouls is 6.8 … so, not ideal. He had as many fouls (89) as made field goals as a freshman.

Reneau showed the ability to be a highly effective player however. He scored in double-figures in seven games last season.

Reneau needs to be able to produce at a high level if Indiana basketball is going to carry over the success of the last two seasons.

Which other rising sophomore steps into a larger role?

Kaleb Banks and CJ Gunn are two important players looking to find their way into a key rotational piece next season. Both players flashed some potential this year but never saw the consistent minutes.

The best thing about both is their high motor and aggressive mindset. That’s something you can’t really teach.

Now, it’s about slowing them down and getting them to produce consistently.

Gunn came in with the reputation as a good shooter and that shot will need to drop in 2023. He has the size at 6-foot-5 / 6-foot-6 to be the prototypical wing for Indiana. He’s athletic, has great length and can be a great defender as well. If he can get his shot to drop consistently, he will be a key player for the Hoosiers. I think regardless, Gunn’s role increases drastically heading into the 2023-24 season.

For Banks, his ability to hit shots could be the key to keeping him on the floor as well. At 6-foot-8, he has great size for a perimeter player and right now, that’s where he needs to be able to play. With Indiana loading up on some key front court players this offseason, it’s important for Banks to fill out on the wing. He can still see spot minutes as a ‘4’, but his role could increase more if he shows the ability as a perimeter player.

Both players need to step up this summer and progress in the right direction.

Will Kel’el Ware progress back to the projected lottery pick that he was coming into college?

Coming into his freshman year, Ware was a projected lottery pick. At Oregon, it was not only the wrong fit, but the motor and toughness was in question. With Mike Woodson, that won’t cut it.

At 7-feet, Ware is a highly skilled — yet still raw — offensive player. He’s best, however, in high pick and roll action. The ability to play off of Xavier Johnson in ball screens could be the key to unlocking his potential. Not only is Johnson terrific in ball screen action, he is terrific at finding the big man near the rim — something he and Jackson-Davis did magically when Johnson was healthy.

Ware also showed some ability to step out and keep the defense honest from the perimeter. He shot just 27.3 percent from three but attempted 10 more 3s and made three more than Race Thompson did last season. In his per 40 minute average, he attempted 1.5 more 3s a game than Thompson.

If Ware can keep his motor up, he can be an extremely huge addition to Indiana’s front court. He isn’t going to put up monster numbers, but he has the talent to be a double-digit scorer and someone who can rebound at a high rate, as well as defend the rim. He has all of the tools to do so.

How do the freshmen fit in?

Four-star guards Gabe Cupps and Jakai Newton arrive in Bloomington with the reputations as winners and tough kids. But, neither of them are truly expected to step into significant roles right away.

For Cupps, his ability to play spot minutes at the point guard position is critical in order to get Xavier Johnson some rest. But, if Indiana isn’t able to find another ball handler in the backcourt, Cupps’ importance to the team greatly rises. Right now, it’s Johnson and then Trey Galloway as ball handlers. While Galloway can provide minutes on the ball throughout each and every game, there needs to be another rotational ball handler. Cupps is the true competitor and his ability to be a true point guard is critical.

For Jakai Newton, getting and staying fully healthy is critical in the summer. After missing most of last summer and half of his senior season with a knee injury, getting back to full health — mentally as much as physically is step one. Newton — at 6-foot-4 — is built ready to play at the college level. His dynamic athleticism on both ends of the floor is so very intriguing. He needs to get better shooting from three, but the raw athletic ability is some of the best in the class when he’s on the floor.

The expectation is that these guys can be brought along much like Kaleb Banks and CJ Gunn this past season. But if the roster stays similar to what it is now, both players will be asked to provide more. The question is, where is that ceiling as well as the floor in terms of their minutes and production as freshmen.

SEE ALSO: Jordan Dingle makes the ‘ideal running mate’ for Indiana basketball next to Xavier Johnson 

Make sure to follow Hoosier Illustrated on Twitter @Indiana_FRN and YouTube to stay up to date on all of the news, updates and coverage of Indiana University athletics. 


Indiana women’s basketball and head coach Teri Moren agree to contract extension



The Indiana women's basketball program and head coach Teri Moren have agreed to a contract extension. (Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times-USA TODAY NETWORK)

The Indiana women’s basketball program and head coach Teri Moren have agreed to a contract extension, announced on Friday.

Moren, who is the reigning AP National Coach of the Year and the program’s all-time winningest coach, received an extension through the 2028-29 season.

Moren led the Indiana women’s basketball program to its first Big Ten regular season championship in 40 years.

Below is the full release from Indiana.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana University and IU head women’s basketball coach Teri Moren have agreed to an extended contract that will make her among the highest paid women’s basketball coaches in the country.

Moren’s deal features an average annual compensation of more than $1.3 million, which ranks second in the Big Ten and among the top coaches nationally. The contract has also been extended by two years thru the 2028-29 season and includes more significant performance bonuses that can enhance the deal, including the following:

  • Big Ten regular and postseason championships;
  • Top three Big Ten regular season finishes;
  • NCAA Tournament participation and victories; and
  • conference and/or national coach of the year accolades.

“Teri Moren has clearly established herself as one of the nation’s best basketball coaches, and in doing so has elevated Indiana Women’s Basketball to an unprecedented level in our program’s history,” said IU Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Scott Dolson. “The decision to modify her contract not only recognizes the tremendous successes she has enjoyed during her nine years here, but also Indiana University’s commitment to continuing to elevate IU Women’s Basketball into one of the best programs in the sport.”

“I am honored and humbled to receive a contract extension from Indiana University,” said Moren. “I am incredibly proud of what we have been able to build during our time at IU which is a direct reflection of our student-athletes, coaches, support staff and fans who have all played a big part in our success. I am excited for what’s happening in the future of our program. A very heartfelt thank you to President Whitten and Scott Dolson for their support and their trust in me to lead this program for the long term. I am proud to be a Hoosier.”

The reigning AP National Coach of the Year and the IU program’s all-time winningest coach, Moren has compiled a 200-93 record (99-57 Big Ten) during her nine seasons in Bloomington. She’s enjoyed eight straight 20-win seasons, doubling the number of 20-win seasons that the program enjoyed in the previous 41 years.

She’s coming off a 2022-23 season where she guided the program to a 28-4 overall record, its first Big Ten regular season championship in 40 years, and its first-ever No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.  Her IU teams have earned invitations to each of the last four NCAA Tournaments and five overall during her tenure. Each of her NCAA-bound IU teams have won at least one NCAA Tournament game, while the 2020-21 team advanced to the Elite Eight and the 2021-22 team to the Sweet 16. In addition to the NCAA berths the team earned two WNIT invitations, highlighted by the 2018 WNIT Championship.

The program’s successes have also helped produce exponential growth in attendance at IU’s women’s basketball games. After averaging 2,708/game in the year prior to Moren’s arrival, average home attendance as Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall reached an all-time best of 8,104/game in 2022-23, a 199% increase compared to 2013-14. After previously ranking near the bottom of the Big Ten in attendance, IU ranked second in the Big Ten and in the top 10 nationally last season.

Make sure to follow Hoosier Illustrated on Twitter @Indiana_FRN and YouTube to stay up to date on all of the news, updates and coverage of Indiana University athletics. 

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Mike Woodson ‘always looking to better’ Indiana basketball with final available scholarship



The Indiana basketball program has one available scholarship for next season and Mike Woodson is 'always looking to better' the roster. (Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times-USA TODAY NETWORK)

As Mike Woodson and the Indiana basketball program approach the first segment of summer workouts, its roster is still not full.

Currently, the Hoosiers have one open scholarship for the upcoming season.

On Wednesday, Woodson made it clear — in order to compete at the top of the Big Ten and around the country, he’s ‘always looking to better’ Indiana basketball.

“We’re always looking,” Woodson said of his final scholarship spot. “Based on a lot of the players tonight that might pull out (of the NBA draft), there might be a player that falls through the cracks. I’m watching it closely and I’m always looking to better our team and if we can pick up someone, based on who falls through the cracks, then we will.”

The NBA Draft withdrawal deadline was May 31 at 11:59 pm and while there were some big names announcing their intentions on returning to college, Woodson isn’t going to go for just anybody.

With six new players coming in next season as of now, including three transfers, chemistry, role and fit are incredibly important.

“I mean I got really seven new players and I gotta figure it out in terms of how we gonna play, who can do what,” Woodson said. “So I’m kinda anxious to see this next week. A lot of the guys are coming back this weekend and getting them in the gym and see who can do what.”

The role that Indiana needs to fill is on the perimeter. The Hoosiers are lacking the consistent knockdown shooting it needs in order to raise their ceiling this year. As of now, a lot is being put on the untapped potential of the roster … mainly the young pieces.

Indiana has five-star newcomers in Mackenzie Mgbako and Kel’el Ware. It also has core pieces returning in Xavier Johnson, Trey Galloway and Malik Reneau.

But, Reneau, Mgbako and Ware have combined to start just seven games at the college level.

The talent level is there, as is the versatility — something Indiana hasn’t had from top to bottom on its roster since Woodson took the program over.

When it came down to assembling the roster that is currently constructed, while the Indiana basketball staff had full control of the players incoming, there will be a taste of what Xavier Johnson wanted as well.

“Yeah, he asked me who I was interested in and I told him and we got a couple of the guys that I actually liked,” Johnson said. “We built a solid, solid team coming in.

“I would say from my watch, I think we have a pretty — a pretty unique, unique team. We’ll be more athletic than last year.”

So, as Woodson and the rest of the Indiana basketball staff look at its final scholarship spot, it’s one that is 100 percent open for use, but not one that will just be tossed around unless the specific skillset arises.

SEE ALSO: ‘It’s going to be my job to bridge the gap’: Mike Woodson’s vision for Indiana basketball is coming to life

Make sure to follow Hoosier Illustrated on Twitter @Indiana_FRN and YouTube to stay up to date on all of the news, updates and coverage of Indiana University athletics. 

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Indiana basketball senior guard Xavier Johnson gives update on his health: ‘I’m 100 (percent)’



Dec 10, 2022; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Indiana Hoosiers guard Xavier Johnson (0) reacts after a three point score against the Arizona Wildcats during the second half at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

Besides the additions of Oregon transfer center Kel’el Ware and the commitment of 2023 five-star forward Mackenzie Mgbako, the biggest offseason win for Indiana basketball was the return of senior guard Xavier Johnson.

Last season, Johnson played and started in just 11 games before he suffered a broken foot on Dec. 17 after playing only nine minutes against Kanas. He would go on to miss the reminder of the season.

Towards the end of last season however, there were rumblings that Johnson and Indiana would seek a medical hardship waiver, which they opted to do, with the senior guard running out of chances to realistically get back into the rotation and contribute.

Going into the offseason, the potential return of Xavier Johnson quickly became one of the bigger storylines for the Indiana basketball program and on April 26th, it was announced that Johnson’s medical hardship waiver was approved by the NCAA. 

Mike Woodson and Indiana basketball had their starting point guard back.

“It’s been a long process, honestly,” said Xavier Johnson when speaking to the media on Wednesday night. “I had to see it all through, talked to my coach (Woodson) and my family. The best option was to come back to school just for the benefit of my health. I would say I thought I was gonna come back in February, late February, but I think it was best for the team just to keep competing (last year) without me and I’ll just be there to support.”

During the process of the medical hardship waiver application, there is not much that a college athlete can do but just wait and see what the NCAA decides based on the facts.

Waiting is exactly what Xavier Johnson did.

“I really just had to wait, honestly, I mean there’s nothing right to the process, but waiting,” Johnson added.

As a senior and the elite competitor that Xavier Johnson is, it certainly was hard for him to have to sit on the sidelines and watch his teammates at Indiana play without him for the second half of last season. When Johnson went down, the keys were given to freshman guard Jalen Hood-Schifino as the primary ball handler for the Hoosiers, who used that opportunity to play his way into a potential lottery pick in the NBA Draft.

Even though there was a chance that Xavier Johnson could have returned late last year, the best thing for Johnson in the long term was to sit out and have a better chance at coming back this season and playing a full senior campaign.

When Johnson got the word that his wavier was approved by the NCAA, you can say the wait was well worth it.

“It was a long process of getting my waiver, but once I got it, that weight was off my shoulders.” said Johnson.

“Coach (Woodson) called me and asked me if I wanted to transfer. I was like ‘what you mean do I want to transfer? Did I not get my waiver?’ He was like ‘yeah you got your waiver. Do you want to come back and play for me?’ I was like ‘yeah!’ (laughter).”

Besides Johnson, there might not be a happier and more excited person on this earth to know that his starting point guard, his senior leader, is returning to help captain the 2023-24 Indiana Hoosiers than Mike Woodson.

The coach-player relationship that Mike Woodson and Xavier Johnson have built these past few seasons is truly special. Woodson has a special connection with his point guards and really understands the value of having a great one like Johnson.

And as far as Xavier Johnson’s health heading into the summer portion of the Indiana offseason?

“I’m 100 (percent),” Johnson simply and confidently said.

SEE ALSO: ‘I think we are getting into more of what coach Woodson wants’: Former IU basketball player Christian Watford discusses Hoosiers offseason

Make sure to follow Hoosier Illustrated on Twitter @Indiana_FRN and YouTube to stay up to date on all of the news, updates and coverage of Indiana University athletics. 

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