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Indiana's X-Factor in 2014-15: Troy Williams

Can the Sophomore lead the Hoosiers back to the promised land?

Duane Burleson

There are plenty of options on this year's Hoosier team when it comes to X-Factors for the upcoming season. Newcomers James Blackmon Jr., Robert Johnson, and Nick Zeisloft are going to be incredibly important from a shooting perspective. Starting center Hanner Mosquera-Perea is an incredibly important factor down low and is simply just a question mark at this point in time - especially since he wasn't able to get on the court in Canada. Will Devin Davis step up his game enough for the team to be successful? All of these players could potentially fill the X-Factor roll on many teams in the B1G, but not on this team. That honor goes to Troy Williams as I believe his play this year will determine whether the Hoosiers can get back where they belong - the NCAA Tournament.

Williams showed how athletic he was during his freshman year - numerous times. The highlight of the year though may have been this dunk against Syracuse:

For the Hoosiers to be successful this season though - Williams will have to show more than his uber-athleticism. He will likely be starting the season in the #4 spot which will be very unfamiliar and uncomfortable for him on the defensive end as he will typically be facing much bigger players. He will need to use his athleticism in order to play bigger than his 6'6" to 6'7" frame. His ability to do this is going to be a major factor in Indiana's season as the front line is currently full of question marks in Hanner Perea, Devin Davis, Tim Priller, and Jeremiah April.

Williams defensive ability isn't going to be the only part of his game he needs to improve for a successful season. It will be crucial for him to cut down on the costly turnovers as well. Williams led the Hoosiers in turnovers per minute during the Canadian trip at .11 and that needs to be more than halved, in my opinion, for Williams to be at an acceptable level of turning the ball over. While you want Williams to play quickly and aggressively, you also want him to do that with a sense of control. More often than not in his freshman season, his mind seemed to be working much faster than this body which led to a lot of ugly turnovers. If he can close that gap this season - he could be an extremely special player to watch.

Also on the offensive end, it will be important for Williams to show he can hit a mid range jump shot. No one expects him to step back and hit a three point shot (and no Hoosier fan wants him to even attempt one as he shot 20.7% from deep last season). If he can prove he can hit a 10 foot jumper on a consistent basis, the lane will open up even more for him to drive and dunk which we all know he can do as good as anyone in the country. It will also provide another threat outside of the paint to allow shooters like Kevin Yogi Ferrell, Blackmon Jr, Johnson, and Zeisloft to get free for the outside shot.

If Williams can hold his own down low on the defensive end, cut down on his turnovers, and develop a mid range game - the Hoosiers are going back to the NCAA Tournament. There is no question in my mind about that. However, this is a lot too ask of a sophomore. He has had a good start to this season's campaign though as he was the third most efficient scorer and second leading rebounder in Canada and appeared to have really elevated his game during the offseason. If he can make the kind of jump that Victor Oladipo did before his junior season, the Hoosiers will be dancing and Williams likely won't be around for his junior season - and I think many Indiana fans would be just fine with that if it means a return to March Madness.