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Despite Offseason Departures, Indiana Hoosiers Return A Deep Lineup

After a lot of talk about the departure of players from Indiana, we focus on what the Hoosiers returning from a team that fell in the Round of 64 last season.

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Stanford Robinson, Max Hoetzel, and Jeremaiah April transferred. Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Devin Davis were released. The Hoosiers, however, still have on of the best returning teams in the nation. Much has been made of the inability of head coach Tom Crean to retain players at Indiana, but heading in to his 8th season at Indiana, Crean has one of his most talented returning rosters.

The Hoosiers return 7 players including all 5 starters from their first round NCAA Tournament loss to Wichita State. This includes double digit scorers Yogi Ferrell (16.3 PPG), James Blackmon (15.7 PPG), and Troy Williams (13.0 PPG). Tom Crean's squad also returns Robert Johnson (8.9 PPG), Nick Zeisloft (6.6 PPG), Collin Hartman (4.8 PPG), and Emmitt Holt (3.6 PPG).

Ferrell is clearly the most notable returning player as the three year starter will play out his senior season at Indiana, giving the Hoosiers their leader back. Ferrell has led the team in scoring the past two seasons and will likely be at the top of that list next year along with James Blackmon. Coming out of high school, Blackmon was ranked as the 20th overall prospect and picked Indiana over a list of schools that included offers from Kentucky, Kansas, and Michigan State. Blackmon impressed last year as the freshman guard finished 2nd in the team in scoring (15.7 PPG) and 2nd in rebounding (5.3 RPG).

Ferrell and Blackmon will hold down the backcourt with the help of Robert Johnson as Crean will likely go with a smaller lineup. Juniors Collin Hartman and Troy Williams will be the two key players returning to the front court. Williams showed the ability to pound the boards during his sophomore season (7.4 RPG) while adding a much needed scoring punch (13.0 PPG).

It is a very unique scenario in the one and done era for a team to return so many key parts from the previous season. Experience could play a key role in helping the Hoosiers compete for the Big Ten title and make a run in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. The role of experience was shown to be big in the Big Ten this past year with Wisconsin being led by upperclassmen like Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker and Michigan State's success with Travis Trice, Denzel Valentine, and Branden Dawson. Indiana has a chance to follow in these teams footpaths and compete for a Big Ten title the great returning talent. Tom Crean has faced a lot of criticism over the last few years with so many players transferring and being released for "not living up to their responsibilities to the program".

Heading in to a season where Crean will undoubtedly be on the hot seat, however, he has built a roster that will be able to compete with the nation's best. Most of this is because of all the returning talent Crean will have at his disposal, despite all the shuffling of his roster over the last few years. When you add the 26th ranked recruiting class which features the #6 Center Thomas Bryant, this Hoosiers team could be Crean's deepest in his time at Indiana.