While the sport that has the most active Hoosier professional athletes is actually soccer (with 19 current pros), the IU alums raking in the biggest salaries largely hail from the NBA, with a few exceptions playing in the NFL and MLB. No matter the sport, this illustrious list highlights the talent that once walked the streets of Bloomington.
The following list includes the top ten highest annual base-salaries of former Indiana University players in the 2020-2021 season. These do not include bonuses, incentives, or other endorsements.
10. Juwan Morgan (Salary: $1,517,981)
Utah Jazz / 2-year contract / $2,264,035
Juwan Morgan started his pro career by going undrafted and fighting his way to an Exhibit 10 contract with the Utah Jazz. After playing well in the G League, Utah decided to ink a new deal with Morgan in November 2019, upgrading the former Hoosier to an official contract.
While the details of the deal were murky initially, it appears that Morgan received a two-year deal, where according to reports he earned $746,054 last season and will make $1,517,981 this year. Morgan continues to climb the ladder within the organization, even starting two games in the bubble.
9. Romeo Langford (Salary: $3,631,200)
Boston Celtics / 2-year rookie contract / $7,089,600 total
As with all rookie contracts, Romeo’s deal with the Boston Celtics is only guaranteed for two years. In the third and fourth years, Boston has a team-option to keep Romeo on the roster for between $3.8 to 5.6 million per year. Romeo Langford will then have a fifth-year qualifying offer (an offer that Boston can make to have the “rights” to match any offers given to Langford) in the neighborhood $7.8 million.
8. OG Anunoby (Salary: $3,872,215)
Toronto Raptors / 5-year contract (1 year + 4 year extension) / $75,872,215 total
In December 2020, OG Anunoby received a lucrative contract extension of four years for $72 million. The extension will kick in next year, as Toronto opted to sign Anunoby before he hit free agency. As a result, he will finish out this year’s club option of his rookie contract before receiving a major paid upgrade.
This season Anunoby will make $3,872,215, but, due to the recent four-year extension, he will be making on average $18 million per year starting in 2021. As the first Hoosier to win an NBA title since Isaiah Thomas, Anunoby has become an integral part of the Raptors rotation and will be a mainstay in Toronto for years to come.
7. Kyle Schwarber (Salary: $7,010,000)
Chicago Cubs / 1-year contract / $7,010,000 total
World Series Champion Kyle Schwarber signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Cubs back in January 2020, which avoided arbitration between him and the Cubs. The deal was worth $7,010,000.
This was Schwarber’s second major pay bump in the MLB. Between 2015 and 2018, Schwarber never made more than $604,500. In 2019, he avoided arbitration by signing a one year, $3,390,000 deal (which was slightly more than projected, as Chicago opted to pay extra to seal the deal). Schwarber’s 2020 deal was even more lucrative, netting him nearly $4 million more than the previous season. This time, despite the salary increase, many believe Chicago got the better end of the deal, as the signing was almost $1 million under some analyst’s projections.
In December 2020, the Cubs decided to non-tender Schwarber, making him a free agent. The fourth overall pick of the 2014 MLB draft was in his final year of arbitration and would have earned between $8 million-$9 million next season if Chicago had proceeded with arbitration or an arbitration settlement. While Chicago has not ruled out bringing him back on a lesser deal, if Schwarber wants to make more than his 2020 salary next season, it will likely be for another team.
6. Tevin Coleman (Salary: $4,550,000)
San Francisco 49ers / 2-year contract / $8,500,000 total
Tevin Coleman is in the final season of his two-year deal with San Francisco worth up to $8.5 million total ($5.25 million were fully guaranteed). Prior to signing with the 49ers, Coleman was only making on average a little over $800,000 per season on his four-year entry-level rookie contract.
After moving on from the Falcons to reunite with Kyle Shanahan, Coleman has become an integral part of San Francisco’s multi-back running attack. Coleman will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.
5. Thomas Bryant (Salary: $8,333,333)
Washington Wizards / 3-year contract / $25,000,000 total
After Bryant’s breakout 2018-19 campaign, the Wizards made him a priority during the 2019 off-season. In fact, Washington wasted no time, signing Bryant within the first hour of free agency. According to reports, Bryant’s $25 million contract is fully guaranteed.
Bryant is an interesting case study to compare with OG Anunoby’s situation. Despite being drafted in the second-round of the same draft, Thomas Bryant benefited by being waived by the Los Angeles Lakers and then being picked up by the Washington Wizards. In turn, he was released from his rookie contract obligations and the Lakers no longer had the team-option rights to keep him around at a much lower salary.
4. Rodger Saffold (Salary: $9,500,000)
Tennessee Titans / 4-year contract / $44,000,000 total
In March 2019, Rodger Saffold signed a $44 million contract with the Tennessee Titans that included $22.5 million in guaranteed salary.
Saffold is in his 11th year in the NFL. At the conclusion of this season, he will have made nearly $61 million in career earnings and, if he finishes out the remaining two years of his contract, will have the opportunity to make around $20 million more.
3. Cody Zeller (Salary: $15,415,730)
Charlotte Hornets / 4-year contract / $56,000,000 total
Cody Zeller is currently on a four-year contract totaling $56 million with the Charlotte Hornets, a contract that was completed in October 2016. Zeller’s salary increased to $15,415,730 in the 2020-2021 season, which is the final year of his agreement. Under his current contract’s structure, Zeller’s salary increased by around $1 million each year. Thus, this season he will make the largest salary of his career thus far. The fourth overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft becomes a free agent in 2021.
In just a blink of an eye, Cody Zeller already has six seasons under his belt where he has averaged a career 8.6 points and 6.0 rebounds per game for the Charlotte Hornets.
2. Eric Gordon (Salary: $16,869,276)
Houston Rockets / 4-year contract / $75,574,356 total
The 13-year veteran is in the first year of a new four-year max extension worth over $75.5 million. Gordon is an elite NBA scorer and his recent extension reflects this value. In fact, despite being a veteran, Gordon is actually making nearly 20% more this season than last.
In his career, it is estimated that the 2007 Indiana Mr. Basketball will have earned over $138 million so far in the NBA.
1. Victor Oladipo (Salary: $21,000,000)
Indiana Pacers / 4-year contract / $85,000,000 total
Victor Oladipo is currently the highest paid professional Hoosier with an annual salary of $21 million. His contract is a four-year deal that was signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder, totaling a whopping $85 million over that period.
Oladipo is in the final year of his contract and is reportedly seeking a max contract moving forward. Thus, this season has a lot riding on it for the former Hoosier. If he performs well, he will likely see a bigger payday next season whether or not he remains in Indiana.
As the number two overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, Oladipo signed a two-year $9.74 million contract with the Orlando Magic after the draft. Orlando exercised the rookie team option in both 2014 and 2015 before finally trading Oladipo to the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2016, where Oladipo signed his current contract.
According to HoopsHype, Oladipo is the 51st highest paid player in the league for the upcoming season and he will be the 22nd best-paid guard.
(Featured photo: Brian Munoz/Getty Images)