Team: Indiana Hoosiers
Head coach: Mike Woodson (second season)
2021-22 record: 21-14 (9-11)
Season finish: NCAA First Round
Players returning: Trayce Jackson-Davis, Race Thompson, Xavier Johnson, Miller Kopp, Anthony Leal, Trey Galloway, Tamar Bates, Logan Duncomb, Jordan Geronimo
Players departed: Michael Durr (UCF), Khristian Lander (Western Kentucky), Rob Phinisee (Cincinnati), Parker Stewart (UT-Martin)
Key additions: Jalen Hood-Schifino, Malik Reneau, Kaleb Banks, CJ Gunn
Indiana comes into this season with a lot of their talent from last season still in Bloomington. The Hoosiers were awarded with a surprise after the season ended, as star forward Trayce Jackson-Davis announced he was returning to school and continuing his collegiate career after most people thought he would be heading to the NBA.
Jackson-Davis comes back after averaging 18.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game last season. He is a three-time All-Big Ten selection and has one All-Big Ten defensive team selection. Jackson-Davis made his presence known in the Hoosiers NCAA Tournament play-in victory over Wyoming, recording 29 points and nine rebounds.
Starters Xavier Johnson, Miller Kopp and Race Thompson also return for head coach Mike Woodson, and the Hoosiers bring in the second-best recruiting class in the conference and the ninth best in the country, according to 247Sports.
Kopp, Thompson, and Johnson are all veterans that can average double digits points per game in addition to Jackson-Davis. The Hoosier offense should be incredibly potent this season.
Xavier Johnson. Johnson is returning to the Hoosiers following a solid first season in Bloomington after spending his first three collegiate seasons with the Pittsburgh Panthers. He averaged 12.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game with Indiana. He struggled at the early part of the season, but started to find his groove and look more comfortable in his new role during the latter part of the year.
“I put in a lot of work, and I was getting mad at myself for not being successful,” Johnson said at Indiana’s media day. “So, when it came, I just took the opportunity and excelled at it. I just try to get everybody to be on the same page. Every day, we got to come every day ready to practice. Every game is gonna be a lesson.”
Johnson knows his relationship with the star Jackson-Davis is important and pivotal to the Hoosiers success.
“I’m his point guard,” Johnson said. “He’s one of my responsibilities. Let him know, get him to play hard every possession and go finish at the rim.”
The Hoosiers were able to make the tournament following an up-and-down season after winning their play-in game, but lost by 30 to St. Mary’s in the First Round in a game that they simply never made competitive.
“You can never lose track of that,” Johnson said. “It was best to make the tournament. But when it all comes down to it, we got to know that we pretty much didn’t deserve to be in that position. Honestly.”
Coach Woodson knows how important Johnson’s play is to the team’s success as the starting point guard and the team’s floor general.
“X has grown a lot, based on the things that he’s done this summer,” Woodson said. “He’s put himself in a wonderful position with me being the coach. I like everything about what X is doing now, because he is doing the right things on and off the court.”
On paper, this is the best team in the Big Ten. They have the least amount of question marks, the second-best recruiting class in the conference coming in and likely the best player in the B1G.
Jalen Hood-Schifino and Malik Reneau are the ones to watch in the incoming class. Hood-Schifino joins the roster as the consensus favorite for Freshman of the Year in the Big Ten as the No. 23 ranked player in the 2022 cycle. Reneau is not far behind however, as he ranks as the No. 29 player in the class, and Kaleb Banks is the No. 89 player in the cycle.
All of these guys are immediate contributors for the Hoosiers, and with four returning starters, they have the recipe for success. Add in guys like Anthony Leal, Tamar Bates and Jordan Geronimo coming off the bench in expanded roles, and the Hoosiers are going to be a tough team to take down — especially in Assembly Hall, one of the nation’s toughest environments.
This is the team that I have winning the Big Ten and being a top-four seed in the NCAA Tournament. They aren’t perfect, and will need the freshmen to contribute, but as long as they do, this team’s ceiling is incredibly high.