Evan Gordon isn't your average transfer. It's not every year where a transfer has such deep roots to a program, but when your older brother is current NBA stud and former Indiana guard and 2008 Big Ten Freshman of the Year Eric Gordon, you'll have expectations surrounding you. Evan Gordon has traveled a long and arduous path to Bloomington, but has emerged as a go-to scoring option off the bench after a rough start to the season. Let's take a look into his career so far, and how he can help this Hoosier team.
Gordon was a 3-star recruit from the class of 2009, and signed to play at Liberty University, where his dad played in the 80s. His dad is 16th in the program's history in scoring, and in Evan's two short years, he was quite the prolific scorer himself. He was a member of the 2010 Big South All-Freshman team, and put up double figures in 19 of his 31 games that year. Obviously, scoring is his calling card, but he wasn't a defensive slouch at Liberty - he was second on the team with 34 steals in his Freshman year. He continued his run as a scorer through his Sophomore year, leading the team in scoring with 14.1 points per game.
He sat out the 2011-12 season due to NCAA transfer rules, and played last season with Arizona State. He saw a lot of action for the Sun Devils, starting in 25 games, but had a rocky season. There would be games where he took over, and looked unstoppable with the ball, but others where he wasn't afraid to let it fly, even when it wasn't falling. He had one too many games going 3-10, or 2-7, or 1-6 from behind the arc for my taste. But he never shied away from attacking the basket, always making sure to get to the free throw line with poise.
But for his final season, he returned home to Indiana, and joined a team that needed depth and experience. After graduating Victor Oladipo and Jordan Hulls and allowing Remy Abel and Maurice Creek to transfer, Tom Crean needed Gordon's experience with putting up big numbers. So far, the 2013-14 season has been interesting for Gordon. But that wasn't without a tough stretch early. Through the first 8 games, Gordon only made 1 three pointer. Gordon would disappear in big games, as he would be on the court for decent minutes, but barely make a contribution with his scoring. For essentially a pure scorer, that's not what the Hoosiers want out of him. The Syracuse loss proves as a microcosm for his early tough patch. In 24 minutes, he went 1-1 from the field for a rousing 2 points. Obviously, Syracuse plays a vicious zone that the Hoosiers (mostly Tom Crean tho) have never been able to stump. But Gordon's confidence sure seemed to be an issue early this season.
That has all changed in the past three games. While Gordon has yet to start a game for the Hoosiers, he's looked fantastic coming off the bench recently. It all started with a lethally efficient 7-9 shooting effort against North Florida, dropping 15 points in the process. But his breakout game occurred against Oakland. He lit it up that game: 26 points, 10-12 from the field, and 4-5 from three. He even showed out on defense too, logging 3 steals, 1 block and a total of 13 deflections. The rest of Indiana's guards struggled that game, so Gordon took it upon himself to score. Boy, did he do that well. Because of that great game, he was rewarded with 30 minutes of playing time during the loss to Notre Dame. While he didn't look as great shooting, his confidence is sky-high, which is just what Tom Crean needs. It's not just Gordon's own personal confidence either. It sure seems like the whole staff and team wants to see him take those shots:
"When your team has confidence in you to make your shot, it gives you confidence," Gordon said.
So which Evan Gordon will turn up for the Hoosiers this year? Will it be the irrationally confidence Gordon who's bold shot selection kills offensive flow? Or will he be the Gordon of the past three games, coming off the bench and scoring like with efficiency? I think a better question is will he ever start? Crean has said that the starting lineup is "fluid," but hasn't made any changes. Could he scooch Will Sheehey into the 6th man role, where he thrived last year? Maybe, but Sheehey has proved too valuable on defense. Right now, the Hoosiers start Yogi Ferell, Noah Vonleh, and an assortment of 6-7 to 6-9 wings. If Crean ever feels like going small, he's got Evan Gordon ready to go off the bench.
I think Gordon will sneak into a starting role eventually, but he's going to be tested once conference play begins. Teams will dare him to shoot, hoping that he reverts back to his old ways. But if he keeps his wild self in check, he could be a major asset for these young and offensively challenged Hoosiers.