A lack of frontcourt depth has become a theme for Tom Crean and the Indiana Hoosiers. Two seasons ago, it was Noah Vonleh who was forced to take the bulk of the big man minutes for the Hoosiers, the team ultimately fizzled out in the Big Ten and missed postseason play all together. Last season, it was the nagging headache that was Hanner Mosquera-Perea and surprise Emmitt Holt holding down the paint. Unfortunately, both players were later dismissed from the program this offseason.
The Hoosiers will now turn to two freshmen to fill the void in the frontcourt if IU wants to be a legitimate threat to make a deep run in March.
Thomas Bryant, Freshman
For the fifth year in a row, Indiana's recruiting class features a McDonald's All-American, this time in the form of 6-foot-10-inch Thomas Bryant. Hoosier Nation caught its first glimpse of Bryant Saturday night at Hoosier Hysteria, and despite missing a large chunk of practices due to a foot injury, the Rochester, NY appears ready to "jump on it" scoring 13 points and grabbing four rebounds in the even's scrimmage.
Bryant's signing alone put sIndiana in many folks' preseason top-15. Fortunately for Bryant, the Hoosiers' returning perimeter talent should alleviate the pressure he'll face down low. Expect Bryant to dominate the early cannon fodder on Indiana's schedule, and we'll see how much substance there is to the hype come Thanksgiving week.
Juwan Morgan, Freshman
In the IU wings preview last week, I listed Collin Hartman despite him being essentially a low-post player for the Hoosiers last season. The reason being that I fully expect Juwan Morgan to take over the role of "guy that plays bigger than his body". The 6-foot-7-inch freshman, when on the floor, should be expected to guard opposing 4's and assist with opposing centers as well, as Tom Crean will have to find lineups that allow Bryant to not have to be on the floor more than 30 minutes per game.
Tim Priller, Sophomore
Tim Priller now finds himself as the veteran big man on this Hoosier roster, but with only 8 game appearances under his belt, averaging just 2.9 minutes per game, it is hard to imagine a significant increase in his role this season. Almost all of those minutes came in garbage time as well, but if Priller can contribute a handful of minutes per, and add a bucket or two per appearance, he may give Crean and staff an option to put in towards the end of first halves to give Thomas Bryant breathers. High end for Priller is likely 20 or so appearances with 4-5 minutes per appearance.
Jordan Fuchs, Sophomore
It appears that Indiana football tight end Jordan Fuchs will pull double duty again this year. I'm sure the 6-foot-6-inch sophomore can't wait to get off the sinking canoe that is now IU football this season. A late addition to the roster last season, joining the team in February. He made just 3 appearances averaging 2.7 minutes per. Expect him to join the team in December, but like Priller, it is hard to imagine Fuchs will have much of an increased role on the team this season.
Between the four frontcourt players for the Indiana Hoosiers, there is just 30 minutes of college basketball experience. Thomas Bryant must adapt quickly to the college game and force opponents to respect the low post of IU. Collin Hartman and Max Bielfeldt could also help the Hoosiers out down low, but if Bryant can solidify himself as on of the best freshmen in the country, the Hoosiers become a dangerous to make a deep tournament run.