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Indiana Basketball Mailbag: Transfer portal, class of 2024 & more



Indiana basketball
Indiana Head Coach Mike Woodson watches during the first half of the Indiana versus Wisconsin men's basketball game at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023. (Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times-USA TODAY NETWORK)

The Indiana basketball program is in the midst of a new era and this offseason is one that has a lot of question marks. Indiana moves on from consensus First-Team All-American Trayce Jackson-Davis and the main question now is — what style of play will Indiana have?

“Trayce Jackson-Davis is the first center that I’ve ever coached in my career where I had to utilize my center as a post-up player,” Woodson said. ” … it’s the first time in my coaching career that I’ve had to coach a young man starting out on the block and expanding his game. I don’t know where we’re going to be next season in terms of how our style of play will be. But we’ve got to get better. I do know that.”

Mike Woodson and the Indiana basketball staff are already involved with numerous transfer targets trying to fill the void of three open scholarships at the moment. That doesn’t include any additional transfers and the looming decision of Big Ten Freshman of the Year Jalen Hood-Schifino.

Here are some key questions answered in the first installment of’s Indiana basketball mailbag.

Q: There’s a lot, but what are the key positions IU needs in the portal? (@Hoosiernation2)

There are a lot of spots that Indiana needs to address but most importantly it starts in the front court. Indiana will not return Trayce Jackson-Davis, Race Thompson and Logan Duncomb, so minutes will be available right away. You aren’t going to go out and find a replacement for Jackson-Davis in one portal target, so this is going to be by committee. Look for Indiana to add a few transfer bigs.

Second is perimeter shooters. This is a must and almost as a high of a priority as the front court. Indiana loses Miller Kopp — its top three-point shooter from this past year — and doesn’t bring back any true knock down and high volume shooters. The Hoosiers ranked 352nd in the country in attempted 3s and 334th in made 3s per game last season. That needs to change. Look for a few shooters — both spot up and off of the dribble — to be added.

In total you’re probably looking at one starting big, one reserve big, and then two to three perimeter players.

Q: Who are the realistic transfer additions right now (@bball992)

Indiana has been extremely active in the transfer portal thus far. Mike Woodson has already conducted in-home visits with Towson transfer guard Nick Timberlake — a career 37.9 percent three-point shooter — and Harvard transfer wing/hybrid forward Chris Ledlum. Indiana is making a strong push to get both on campus. Sources indicate to HoosierIllustrated that there is definitely a high amount of mutual interest between Timberlake and Indiana. He has had in-home visits with North Carolina, Ohio State and Butler thus far. He has a campus visit set with UNC this week.

St. John’s is involved with both prospects.

Minnesota 6-foot-7 transfer wing Jamison Battle is high on Indiana’s list as well. He fits the needs of a bigger wing who can create his shot off of the dribble or in catch and shoot opportunities. Look for that interest to continue.

Ball State 6-foot-9 center transfer Payton Sparks visited Indiana on Monday. Indiana is very strong in this portal recruitment. He was the former MAC Freshman of the Year. He averaged 13.3 points and 8.7 rebounds this season.

An intriguing prospect who emerged in the portal yesterday was Virginia 6-foot-11 center Kadin Shedrick. Indiana was involved in his recruitment out of high school and assistant coach Kenya Hunter was the lead recruiter for Nebraska when he was on staff. Nebraska was Shedrick’s first college offer.

Shedrick averaged 6.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game in 17.5 minutes a game.

That is a good look at the main group of prospects at the moment. There will be more, obviously. Right now, as Indiana you have to like where it stands for Sparks. Outside of him, things continue to progress with Battle and Shedrick is someone to keep a close eye on. With on-campus visits starting for Timberlake, Indiana needs to secure one quickly in order to keep the momentum it has with that recruitment.

Q: What are your thoughts on Payton Sparks and how he would fit IU’s current needs? (@C_Scher21)

Sparks is a 6-foot-9 and 240-pound center who was very productive at Ball State in his two seasons. He’s not going to come in and play starter minutes for Indiana but he is a very good depth piece with a good frame and skill.

He is almost entirely an inside-the-paint player, so he would need to be surrounded by some shooters. But, his high motor and extremely effective rebound ability is something Indiana needs at the position.

He has started all 62 games in his career and has 22 career double-doubles. He ranked second in the MAC in offensive rebound rate (12.9) and fourth in the league in total rebound rate (17.3) this season.

There is a reason high-major programs are after him right now. He would address depth and size for the Hoosiers and be a solid pickup if the were to commit to Indiana.

Q: Any 24 recruits able to reclassify to 23? (@trvlngwlbry)

The two main 2024 targets that Indiana is after with that option are 6-foot-11 forward from Overtime Elite (Ga.) Somto Cyril and 6-foot-10 forward from Montverde (Fla.) Derik Queen.

Right now, Cyril is the ‘more likely’ of the two. Queen, originally from outside of the Baltimore area, is looking more and more like a player Maryland will land, according to sources.

So for Cyril, he was impressed with Indiana on his official visit in November. He’s one of the more physically imposing big men in the country and showed that this summer on the AAU circuit. Right now, he’s a terrific rebounder, rim protector and defender with his offensive game continuing to develop. It’s likely a rim-rocking dunk at this point.

There is still a ways to go, including the potential for the professional route, for Cyril. Indiana and Cincinnati are the two programs he has visited up to this point.

Q: Who out this past freshman class will possibly see a bump up in minutes (@acedagooch76)

You’d like to see all of them but Kaleb Banks is the guy who I think carves out a nice role next year for Indiana. We already saw what he could do this season in very limited minutes. But, his motor, energy and IQ shined on multiple occasions.

He averaged just 2.0 points and 0.9 rebounds in 24 games this season. If you spread that out to a per 40 minute production he would be at 14.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. He’s a 6-foot-7 wing who has really nice versatility and has shown the ability to play both inside the paint and on the perimeter.

Q; Is Malik Reneau going to be able to help spread the floor by hitting shots from FT line and 3 point line? (@realDocBob)

I would like to say yes, but not sure that will happen. We saw Trayce Jackson-Davis play for Mike Woodson for two seasons and neither year did he improve on any type of jump shot.

Reneau has much more of a perimeter and 15-foot game than Jackson-Davis ever did, but it’s not likely that becomes a large part of his game-to-game skillset. Reneau will see most of his touches in the paint which he should. He’s shown the ability to use his athleticism and footwork to beat defenders on the block.

I think you could see some additional looks from 15 feet but anything more and of high-volume is wishful thinking and something that I don’t think happens.

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Alec Lasley is the owner of Hoosier Illustrated, a comprehensive site covering news, updates and recruiting for Indiana University athletics. Alec has covered Indiana for six years and is a credentialed media member. He has previously worked for both Rivals and 247Sports.