2013-2014 Season Preview: No. 25 Indiana Hoosiers

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All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. The rest of our Top 25 Countdown can be found here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

Last Season: 29-7, 14-4 Big Ten (1st); Lost in the Sweet 16 to Syracuse

Head Coach: Tom Crean (6th season at Indiana: 84-82, 33-57 Big Ten)

Key Losses: Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo, Christian Watford, Jordy Hulls, Remy Abell, Mo Creek

Newcomers: Noah Vonleh, Troy Williams, Stanford Robinson, Luke Fischer, Evan Gordon, Devin Davis, Colin Hartman

Projected Lineup

 G: Yogi Ferrell, So.
G: Will Sheehey, Sr.
– F: Jeremy Holloway, So.
– F: Noah Vonleh, Fr.
– C: Luke Fischer, Fr.
– Bench: Evan Gordon, Sr.; Stanford Robinson, Fr.; Troy Williams, Fr.; Hanner Mosquera-Perea, So.; Austin Etherington, So.

They’ll be good because …: Indiana certainly has enough talent on their roster, as Tom Crean once again brought in a recruiting class that ranked as one of the best in the country. What that means is that the Hoosiers can go 10 deep before you even consider the likes of Peter Jurkin, Devin Davis and Collin Hartman. Noah Vonleh is a top ten recruit with a chance to be a lottery pick whenever he leaves school, Yogi Ferrell should have a big season as he’ll be expected to shoulder more of the offensive load and Will Sheehey is one of the more underrated wings in the country.

Jeremy Hollowell, Luke Fischer, Troy Williams, Stan Robinson and Hanner Mosquera-Perea are all kids that, with time, should develop into big-time contributors for the Hoosiers. Without question, Indiana has the pieces to remain a contender in the Big Ten.

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But they might disappoint because …: The most important two words in the entire paragraph above are “with time”. The Hoosiers will be one of the youngest, most inexperienced teams in the country next season, especially up front. Ferrell is a sophomore and started at the point last season, which makes him an old man in college basketball these days, and the senior duo of Sheehey and Arizona State transfer Evan Gordon should give Tom Crean some veteran leadership in the back court.

Up front is a different story. Vonleh, Fischer and Williams are freshmen. Mosquera-Perea and Hollowell are sophomores that saw limited minutes last year. That group is loaded with talent and potential, but just how effective they end up being in their first season playing (or playing big minutes) at the college level is yet to be seen.

Outlook: Indiana has a ton of moving parts this season, and just how the starting lineup and rotation shakes out is yet to be determined. At this point, there are a couple assumptions we can make: Ferrell will have the ball in his hands the majority of the time as he’s the only point guard on the roster, Vonleh is as close to a sure thing as freshmen get, and Sheehey will play major minutes in the role vacated by Victor Oladipo.

Beyond that, however, there is a lot unknown. Indiana isn’t looking simply to replace a couple pieces from last year. They don’t simply need to fill a couple roles. This is an entirely new team. Their top four scorers — Oladipo, Cody Zeller, Christian Watford and Jordy Hulls — from last season are gone, and how the pieces that Crean has amassed will fit together is one of the most intriguing story lines in the Big Ten this season. Can Robinson take over the shooting guard role by the end of the year? Does the uber-athletic Williams have enough skill to be a factor in the Big Ten in his first season? Is Fischer strong enough to take over for Cody Zeller in the paint? Did Hollowell put in the work this offseason to build off of a strong finish to his freshman season?

One thing I’m sure of: Indiana is going to look different on March 8th than they do on November 8th. Will that be a good thing or a bad thing for Hoosier fans?

LaVar Ball stars in an uncomfortably entertaining segment on WWE’s Raw

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LaVar Ball’s statements and antics over this past year always seemed better suited a professional wrestling ring.

It was only natural that the patriarch of the Ball family — and the head of the Big Baller Brand — made an appearance on WWE’s Monday Night Raw at the Staples Center for an awkwardly entertaining segment with WWE Intercontinental Champion The Miz.

With sons, Lonzo — in his first appearance in the Staples Center as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers — and LaMelo looking on, LaVar was the center of attention. When The Miz mentioned something about a partnership between the two, the scripted interview went south. It resulted in LaVar saying nonsensical things like, “There’s only two dudes better than me, and I’m both of ’em!” before later taking off his shirt. When Dean Ambrose, a WWE superstar feuding with The Miz came out on to the ramp, LaVar didn’t quite grasp the concept that that was his cue to stop talking.

This segment was somehow entertaining and cringeworthy at the same time.

Now that Lonzo is beginning his NBA career, maybe it’s time LaVar try something different. A manager in the WWE may just be his true calling. He’s certainly had plenty of practice.

Maryland lands commitment from five-star 2018 forward

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Maryland added to its 2018 recruiting class with its second commit, the newest addition being a five-star in-state product.

Jalen Smith, a 6-foot-9 forward from Baltimore powerhouse Mount St. Joseph, committed to the Terrapins, making the announcement on Twitter.

“I believe that I can academically and athletically achieve my goals at home through my commitment to the University of Maryland … Go Terps,” he tweeted as part of a long passage.

Smith is listed as the No. 13 overall recruit in the Class of 2013 by Rivals. He joins four-star swingman Aaron Wiggins in Mark Turgeon’s current recruiting class.

Playing for Team Takeover on the Nike EYBL circuit, Smith is averaging 10.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks per game.

Recent grad’s joyride reportedly did $100,000 of damages to Mizzou Arena

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A recent graduate and temporary employee of the University of Missouri took an early morning joy ride that reportedly could rack up around $100,000 to Mizzou Arena.

According to Dave Mater of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Nathaniel J. Contant, 23, who graduated from the school in December 2016, drove his Volkswagen Passat through a gate and eventually on to the floor of the 15,000-seat on-campus arena.

At 7:15 a.m. Sunday, MU police were dispatched to Mizzou Arena for a report of property damage. Officers determined that around 4 a.m., the suspect drove his vehicle through a closed gate on the south side of the arena. He ran through a garage door and drove into a dock area where he damaged several golf carts that were stored in the area. He also drove his car onto the basketball court. The man couldn’t leave through the area he used to enter the building, so he drove through the arena’s press gate.

Contant, unsurprisingly, is no longer an employee of the university. He’s being charged with second-degree burglary and first-degree property damage, both of which are felonies. He was released on a $4,500 bond.

The motive for this early-morning joyride remains unclear.

Despite the hype surrounding the upcoming Mizzou season — one that includes the debut of new head coach Cuonzo Martin and the projected No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft Michael Porter, Jr. — Twitter users couldn’t help but poke fun at the dismal recent history the Tigers have had.

(h/t Kansas City Star)

Vance Jackson transfers to New Mexico

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With more than a handful of departures this offseason, New Mexico is set to have a new-look roster for the 2017-18 season. On Monday, Paul Weir, now at the helm of the program, landed a player who should make an impact in the three remaining seasons of eligibility he has left.

Vance Jackson, who spent this past season at UConn, decided to make the move from Storrs to Albuquerque, picking the Lobos over Rutgers, San Diego State, TCU, and Washington.

The 6-foot-8 rising sophomore will have to sit out next year due to NCAA transfer rules before resuming his collegiate career in the fall of 2018.

“The coaches — they trust in me,” Jackson told Geoff Grammer of the Albuquerque Journal last month during his official campus visit. “We’re on the same page. They see a vision.”

Weir, who led New Mexico State this past season to a NCAA Tournament appearance in his one and only season as head coach, succeeded Craig Neal in April.

This offseason has been headlined by transfers, though, those mostly were about players leaving the program. Jackson is the second transfer to land at UNM with Akron’s Antino Jackson electing to use his final season of eligibility with the Lobos. Antino Jackson is a graduate transfer, allowing him to play immediately next season.

Vance Jackson, who was rated as the No. 80 overall player in the Class of 2016 by Rivals, averaged 8.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game while shooting just under 40 percent from three for the Huskies as a freshman.

Adam Silver on lowering NBA Draft age minimum: ‘It’s on the table’

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver joined Dan Patrick this morning and was again questioned about the potential of the NBA changing the age limit to declare for the draft.

“If you’d asked me that a year ago, I would have said ‘if I didn’t have to negotiate this with the union, I would have raised the age minimum to 20 from 19,'” Silver told Patrick. When pressed on it, Silver said, “It’s a possible option. It’s on the table,” adding that it will be discussed by the union and in an owner’s meeting, and that he still doesn’t know what he thinks the best answer is.

But the big news is that he’s actively considering a change.

I wrote a long piece about the one-and-done rule and why the topic of what’s best for the kids is incredibly complicated. Owners don’t want to pay teenagers millions of dollars to develop; they’d rather let them develop in college and have an extra season or two on the back-end, when the player is in his prime. The players don’t want to spend a year in college, but the marketing and branding opportunities for them — not to mention to booster money that is floating around on a college campus — makes going to college a better option that going to the G-League, and that’s to say nothing of the fancy dorms, private flights and perks of being a celebrity on a college campus.

The truth is probably this: The NBA is trying to take control of basketball’s feeder systems. And I’m not just talking about making the G-League a better option than the collegiate ranks.

“It’s no longer an issue of 19 to 18 or 19 to 20,” Silver said. “I think it means that we as the NBA need to do something that we’ve avoided, which is getting more involved in youth basketball. If you sit with the folks from Nike or Under Armour or Adidas, they can tell you who the top 100 14 year olds are in the world, and there’s a fairly close correlation between the top 100 at 14 and the top 100 at 18.”

“Then I look at some of the players coming in internationally who are becoming full time professional basketball players, as we see in soccer, at 16 years old,” he added. “And they’re on a better development program and a more holistic one, in terms of injury prevention and monitoring in terms of control over them.”

This is a really nuanced decision, and again, if it interests you, I would encourage you to read what I wrote last week before listening to the hot take mafia work this story line over.

Because the fact of the matter is that there is a lot more to consider here than simply whether or not high school seniors should be allowed to go directly to the NBA.