In the weeks leading up to the 2017-18 college basketball season, BTPowerhouse will be releasing its preview series breaking down each Big Ten team. These will come in a set of series previewing the overall team, the team’s backcourt, wings, and big men, and the team’s schedule. Each post will take a look at its top in-depth and give predictions on the upcoming season.
Today's edition of the 'BTPowerhouse Preview Series' we will take a look at the wings for Indiana. The Hoosiers return experience and also welcome youth on the perimeter, which will be something to keep an eye on during the year.
'BTPowerhouse Preview'- Indiana Wings
- 2016-'17 All-Big Ten Qualifiers: None
- Departures: OG Anunoby
- Additions: Justin Smith
- Top Player: Collin Hartman
The Hoosiers will miss the services of OG Anunoby, who developed into an elite defender and was selected in the first round of the NBA Draft by Toronto. Anunoby averaged 6.8 points and 3.5 rebounds during his two seasons at Indiana, but his stat line doesn't tell the full story of his impact in Bloomington.
Anunoby's talent will be missed at Indiana, but Archie Miller has a veteran senior group ready to exceed expectations. Fifth-year senior Collin Hartman returns after tearing his ACL last preseason. The 6-foot-7 Indianapolis native was the glue guy for the Hoosiers' 2015-16 Big Ten Championship team and will be depended on to do even more in his last go around.
Other seniors include Freddie McSwain and Zach McRoberts, two transfers who joined the program last year and will be looking to expand their role this year. The lone newcomer on the wing is 6-foot-7 freshman Justin Smith. An athletic specimen who has excellent potential, Smith was a consensus top-100 recruit coming out of high school.
Collin Hartman isn't going to wow anyone with his athleticism. When he arrived on campus as a freshman, he was considered only to be a three-point shooter who would be able to use his size to shoot over defenders. Hartman is still a reliable threat from downtown, but he means so much more to the Hoosiers than that.
In his junior season, Hartman averaged 5.0 points and 3.1 rebounds while starting in 24 games. In no way was Hartman on the minds of opponents before a game, but he was the Hoosiers' most important player in some aspects as he did the little things that don't get attention from fans and media. Hartman is an excellent leader on the floor and will need to prosper in that role with all the change in the program from last season.
Hartman is realistically the only starter type player at the wing, although Zach McRoberts did start a handful of games due to lack of depth. I think Archie will start Rob Johnson and Josh Newkirk at the guard spots, Hartman on the wing, and Juwan Morgan and De'Ron Davis in the middle.
New to the program last winter, McRoberts and McSwain came off the bench and provided valuable minutes here and there for Indiana. An Indiana native, the 6-foot-6 McRoberts played his freshman season at Vermont, transferred to Indiana his sophomore year and didn't have any intentions of playing hoops for the Hoosiers, but decided to walk as a junior and found himself in the starting rotation a few times.
McRoberts doesn't have an established offensive game, but similar to Hartman, McRoberts enjoys doing the dirty work, and that's what gets him minutes.
Freddie McSwain, a 6-foot-6 JUCO transfer, is one of the best athletes in the Big Ten. Most of his points last year were around the basket, but it was apparent he wasn't use to playing against Big Ten competition. McSwain has a high motor. He gives 100% every possession which will make him a significant contributor coming off the bench.
The most intriguing piece of the Hoosier wings is 6-foot-7 freshman Justin Smith. Known for his athletic ability, Smith has a developing outside game which will make him more of a threat on the offensive end. For now, it seems Smith will be able to be a spark plug off the bench and will fit in perfectly with a relatively quick team who likes to push the tempo.
The wings are the forgotten position for the Hoosiers, but they may be the most important. Many blame Indiana's inconsistent 2016-'17 season on the injury of Hartman because the Hoosiers didn't have a legitimate leader.
If Hartman can stay healthy, he'll get a majority of the minutes. It'll be interesting to see how the minutes end up being distributed between McRoberts, McSwain, and Smith, though.