(Photo Credit: IndianaHQ)
When it comes to postseason basketball, success is often dictated by the performance of the bigs. A dominant scoring perimeter player will always be most influential come tournament time. But, size, rebounding, and interior defense are cornerstones of championship caliber teams. A team that can create second chances off of rebounds and limit easy baskets by protecting the rim will always be competitive. For IU, the bigs are versatile and provide offensive production that most teams envy. With a few key additions, the Hoosier frontcourt should be even more potent this season.
Thus, let’s take a look at what to expect from the Hoosier bigs:
Morgan is the heartbeat of the team – a fantastic player with all of the leadership qualities and experience to mentor the squad’s young players. Morgan does just about everything on the court. Last season, he averaged 16.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.4 blocks, and a steal per game. Every year, as his minutes increase, so do his numbers. He is always productive and always impactful. He is always at the center of IU’s success. Look for him to have another fantastic season and continue to be one of the best bigs in college basketball.
Fitzner will likely be a huge addition to the team this year. Coming from Saint Mary’s, Fitzner is a 6-10, 230 pound big with the ability to space the floor. His ability to shoot and play on the perimeter was a substantial factor in why the IU coaching staff targeted Fitzner. Although only playing about 15 minutes per game last season as a Junior and only averaging 5 points and 2.2 rebounds, Fitzner shot 40% from three. During his freshman season, Fitzner played 23.4 minutes per game and almost every statistical category doubled in production (and, he shot 41% from three). Fitzner was simply a victim of circumstance. The Gaels had a loaded frontcourt, including Jock Landale. As a result, minutes were split between several players. But, what was impressive about Fitzner was that he was always productive, even in a limited role. His shooting and ability to space the floor will certainly help the Hoosiers this season. In particular, it will allow more room for Morgan and Davis to operate down low. Fitzner should be an ideal fit within the IU scheme.
Davis is a very underrated player for the Hoosiers. He is your traditional strong, physical center. He also has a nice scoring touch and effectively blocks shots. He averaged 9.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game last season in about 19 minutes per game. He started the first 15 games of the year before suffering a torn Achilles in early January. However, he was extremely productive before the injury. In fact, Davis dropped 16 points against then-ranked #1 Duke, where he was squared off against two of the best bigs in the country in Bagley and Carter Jr. Considering the severity of the injury, the timetable for Davis’s return is unknown but he appears to be progressing nicely. Even after the injury, it may take him a little time to knock the rust off. But, Davis should be a big-time player for the Hoosiers this season once fully healthy.
Thompson was the #71 player in the country in the Class of 2018 before reclassifying and leaving high school a year early to join IU, where he redshirted last season. All indications are that he took full advantage of his redshirt season. In particular, he worked on his body and became much stronger. Thompson already had an impressive skill set and his new physique should mean that he will compete for minutes at the power forward position this season. In high school, Thompson was an effective scorer and rebounder. He comes from a family of athletes. Both of his sisters played college volleyball, his brother plays football at Minnesota, and his father was drafted by the Green Bay Packers. Thus, athletic success, a strong work ethic, and professionalism run in his veins. So far, it seems Thompson has brought this focus and determination to Bloomington. Thompson may be ahead of schedule and may be a pleasant surprise this season.
Forrester has had less time in the Bloomington weight room, but has reportedly made vast improvements already. Forrester is extremely athletic but is just starting to scratch the surface of his basketball abilities. He was the #127 recruit according to Rivals and has a lot of potential. It will be interesting to see how quickly he can grow this season and whether he will be able to find time at power forward position. At the very least, he should be able to provide some quality depth in the frontcourt.
Moore only saw action in 9 games last season. Coming out of high school, he was the #127 recruit according to Scout.com. Moore has a nice shooting stroke and good overall skill set. He is another player that has substantially benefited from the strength and conditioning program. Look for him to become more productive as he continues to grow into his role.