With the passing of the May 24th deadline for players to return to college, all Big Ten teams can begin projecting next year’s starting lineups with more certainty. One of the most fluid rosters this spring was at Indiana, where four underclassmen originally entered the NBA draft.
Ever since O.G. Anunoby, Thomas Bryant, and James Blackmon Jr. finalized their decisions to stay in the draft, Hoosier faithful have been wondering what next year’s team will look like in September.
Let’s take a look at how Indiana’s starting lineup projects for the 2017-2018 season.
Indiana Hoosiers 2017-2018 Projected Starting Lineup
Robert Johnson (Senior), Guard
Returning senior Robert Johnson announced via Twitter that he had one more year left in him for a Final Four run.
Johnson’s return for his senior season is huge positive for the Hoosiers, as he was the team’s second leading scorer last year, averaging 12.8 points per game. Johnson was an all around contributor for Indiana who also produced 4.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.
Johnson was second on the team in minutes played (29.4 per game), and had three games of 20 plus points (Austin Peay, Penn State, and at Ohio State). The Hoosiers were victorious in each of those three games.
Robert Johnson will provide scoring and leadership for the Hoosiers next season as one of the starting guards.
Josh Newkirk (Senior), Guard
The speedy 6’1” point guard led Indiana last season with an average of 3.2 assists per game. While only averaging 9.0 points per game, Newkirk showed the ability to score when needed. His best game of the year came against Penn State when he scored 27 points and shot four of eight from three-point range.
Just four nights later, Newkirk followed that effort with 22 points on the road against a defensively stubborn Wisconsin team.
Both games were during a late season stretch that saw Newkirk reach double digits in seven of nine games. He averaged 28.1 minutes per game, ranking third on the Indiana team.
The fifth leading scorer on last season’s Hoosiers team, Newkirk’s impact could be overlooked by Big Ten opponents, but certainly not by Indiana fans. He projects as the other starting guard alongside Robert Johnson.
Juwan Morgan (Junior), Forward
The 6’8” 230 lb forward will be asked to fill the rebounding void left by both Thomas Bryant and O.G. Anunoby’s departure. Morgan was the second leading rebounder last season, averaging 5.6 per game. He ranked slightly behind Bryant, and actually better than Anunoby.
Morgan led the team in field goal percentage with a 54.8 percent mark, which is even better when you consider he only shot 10 of 40 from three-point range. Foul trouble is definitely something he needs to improve upon, but when Morgan was on the floor he impacted the game on both the offensive and defensive ends.
Juwan Morgan will be a key component of Indiana’s foundation next season, and projects to be Indiana’s starting power forward.
De’Ron Davis (Sophomore), Forward
The 6’10” Davis possesses a variety of back to the basket offensive moves. He has a great motor and will need to keep that work ethic to replace the two year starter Thomas Bryant.
Davis had a solid freshman campaign for Indiana, averaging 5.9 points and reaching double digits six times. He needs to improve his low rebounding numbers (only 3.1 per game), and will get challenged by incoming 6’10” four-star recruit Clifton Moore of Horsham, Pennsylvania.
De’Ron Davis will provide much needed size inside to battle with the likes of Purdue and Michigan State’s big men next season. Davis projects to start at the Hoosiers’ forward/center position.
Collin Hartman (Senior), Forward
The “feel good” story of the Indiana team, the redshirt senior will return to Bloomington after a left knee injury last September.
At 6’7” 220 lbs, Hartman is a versatile scorer on can score from deep and made his free throws at an 84 percent rate before his injury. He is a true leader and the “glue guy” for this Indiana team. His three year career at Indiana has produced averages of 4.1 points and 2.7 rebounds. But his impact goes well beyond the numbers, and his return has brought excitement to all Hoosiers fans.
ICYMI: Collin Hartman will be back for his final year of eligibility https://t.co/kcwMyi7ubL— IndianaDailyStudent (@idsnews) March 31, 2017
With his size and versatile offensive scoring, Collin Hartman projects as Indiana’s starting small forward next season.
Indiana projects to feature one of the most experienced starting lineups in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers will have a solid bench with sophomores Devonte Green and Curtis Jones, along with a strong recruiting class of Justin Smith, Clifton Moore, and Al Durham. Coach Miller has already started building a solid foundation in Bloomington for years to come.