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Indiana Basketball: Five questions the Hoosiers answered this offseason



Indiana Head Coach Mike Woodson encourages his team during the first half of the Indiana versus Illinois men's basketball game at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023. Iu Ui Mbb 1h Woodson 1

The summer phase of the offseason is about to ramp up and with the transfer window officially closed and the team pretty much set, Mike Woodson and Indiana can start working with the pieces they have for the upcoming 2023-24 season.

With only one scholarship left, Indiana basketball had major success in the spring portion of the offseason being able to bring a total of four new faces to go along with their already signed freshman guards, Gabe Cupps and Jakai Newton. Indiana also added 2023 five-star forward Mackenzie Mgbako to incoming freshman class as well.

In the portal, the Hoosiers added Payton Sparks, Kel’el Ware, and Anthony Walker.

With summer workouts and newcomers arriving on campus soon, it is a good time to look at the questions and topics that Mike Woodson and Indiana answered.

Frontcourt replenished, now has depth

Going into this offseason, this quickly became an area that Indiana needed to turn their focus too. The Hoosiers, in total, lost four of their five front court rotation pieces.

With Trayce Jackson-Davis heading to the NBA, Race Thompson out of eligibility, and both Jordan Geronimo and Logan Duncomb opting to transfer, that left Malik Reneau as the lone front court option for Indiana to build around.

Luckily, Mike Woodson and the Hoosiers wasted very little time in filling up the front court as they were very aggressive in the transfer portal knew what they needed. The first addition to the front court came in April from Ball State transfer center Payton Sparks followed by Kel’el Ware, a transfer center from Oregon, and then lastly veteran power forward Anthony Walker from Miami (FL). If you were to throw in Mackenzie Mgbako, who can play both the three and four, the Hoosiers now have a solid, athletic 4/5 man rotation in their front court.

While it will be extremely hard to replace the production and leadership that players like Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson provided, the Indiana basketball staff did an outstanding job bringing in high-upside replacements in the their front court. Except to see a much different, athletic style in the Indiana front court than what fans have seen in the past few years.

A true playmaker on the wing

At last, Mike Woodson has seemed to have found that athletic, playmaking wing he has been searching for since he took over as Indiana head coach two seasons ago. With the late addition of 2023, five-star forward Mackenzie Mgbako, Indiana’s perimeter play gets a much needed boost.

It was clear in the past few years, Indiana basketball was in desperate need of shooting and a legit playmaker on the wing. While Mike Woodson tried many different pieces to fill that role, there was really never one that stuck. Miller Kopp was the guy on the wing for the Hoosiers the last two seasons, but inconsistency in shooting, not having the ability to make plays on the ball, and lack of usage from Indiana never really made him a true threat from the perimeter.

Mgbako, a McDonald’s All-American, comes in as the highest rated recruit that Indiana has seen in awhile. He can create on the ball, shoot it well from the outside, defend multiple spots, and so much more that fans have not seen in such a long time.

Mike Woodson got his wing.

Experience and leadership

When you look at this Indiana team on paper, this is an overall young Indiana team that is leaning on ‘untapped potential’ next season. However, while they don’t necessarily have the amount of experience they had last season, the Indiana staff did a good job of filling each spot with experience whether that be from the players that are returning or who they got from the transfer portal.

In the portal is where Indiana brought that leadership and experience to their frontcourt with additions of Miami transfer senior power forward Anthony Walker and Ball State junior center Payton Sparks.

Walker comes in having competed in 125 games in his four seasons at Miami averaging 15.1 minutes, 4.9 points, and 2.5 rebounds per game while also knowing what it is like to be a part of a team that made a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Sparks, on the other hand, comes in having averaged 13.4 points and 8.6 rebounds in 62 career games for Ball State. Both are expected to be important contributors in the front court rotation.

The returning experience and leadership came mainly from the backcourt with guys like Xavier Johnson, Trey Galloway, and even Anthony Leal all back for the Indiana Hoosiers. Both Johnson and Galloway bring back tons of experience for the Indiana backcourt and will be looked at as the leaders to help bring the young backcourt of CJ Gunn, Gabe Cupps, and Jakai Newton along and ready to contribute.

This team may be on the younger side, but Indiana basketball does have enough experience and leadership at almost each position to make these pieces work next season.

Their starting point guard

While the frontcourt was one of the bigger areas that Indiana needed to address this offseason, the most important spot on the floor that the Hoosiers needed to fill was their point guard spot.

Thankfully, the return of senior point guard Xavier Johnson, after his medical hardship waiver was approved, helped Mike Woodson and Indiana fill their biggest need on the floor and ensured the Hoosiers had their starting point guard figured out.

After suffering a broken foot on Dec. 17 against Kansas, Johnson missed the remainder of last season season which allowed him to earn a medical hardship. While this was not exactly an “addition” as Johnson has already two seasons at Bloomington under his belt, this was arguably the best move of the offseason for Indiana.

Johnson’s return next season gives Indiana a true ball-handler and playmaking guard as well as allowing the younger guards like Gabe Cupps to slowly be brought along and not thrown into the fire right away.

The return of Xavier Johnson is so, so significant for Indiana.

Recruiting not a concern, Hoosiers have two McDonald’s All-Americans on their roster

Going into this offseason, the recruiting class of 2023 for Mike Woodson and Indiana was topic of concern with the frontcourt being imploded with no commitments of a true post players and only two guards, Gabe Cupps and Jakai Newton, coming in. It was no secret, the Hoosiers were going to be heavily active in the transfer portal.

After the addition of Ball State transfer center Payton Sparks, Indiana made a their first huge splash off the offseason with them adding former McDonald’s All-American and five-star center Kel’el Ware from Oregon. The Ware addition was much needed for the Hoosiers as they got a versatile, athletic post player to pair with Malik Reneau in the frontcourt.

However, just when many thought Mike Woodson was done making splashes in the offseason, 2023 five-star forward Mackenzie Mgbako decommitted from Duke and fell into the lap of Indiana. After Mgbako’s visit, the Hoosiers were able to add yet another McDonald’s All-American as well as beef up their incoming freshman class with Cupps and Newton.

Both Ware and Mgbako come in with untapped potential and the opportunity to be major factors for the Hoosiers in the 2023-24 season. This is also the first time since the 2016-17 season that IU will have multiple McDonald’s All-Americans on the roster.

The concerns of Mike Woodson recruiting should honestly not be a concern anymore at this point. In his first three seasons, Woodson has been able to get late commitments in the Spring with Tamar Bates and Malik Reneua coming before Mgbacko.

On paper, Woodson has once again done an excellent job this offseason.

SEE ALSO: ‘The program is only going up from here’: Jalen Hood-Schifino, Trayce Jackson-Davis excited about path of Indiana basketball

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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