An already uncertain inaugural Hoosier roster for Archie Miller became a little more unknown Tuesday.
Indiana sophomore Thomas Bryant will declare for the NBA draft, but will not hire an agent, according to multiple reports.
The Hoosiers have already lost OG Anunoby to the NBA draft, and James Blackmon is taking a similar approach to Bryant, declaring but not signing with an agent, which preserves their opportunities to return to Indiana for another season.
Bryant, a 6-foot-10 forward, returned to school after a successful freshman campaign hoping to improve his draft stock, but his potential landing spot is perceived to have taken a hit after he shot 70.7 percent from 2-point range as a freshman compared to only 55.6 percent this past year. Bryant did show better range, however, shooting 60 3-pointers (compared to 15 as a freshman) and making 23 of them for a 38.3 percent mark.
The roster situation, as noted by the Indianapolis Star, for Indiana is a bit tricky as the Hoosiers are over-signed by two scholarships for Miller’s first season in Bloomington. If Bryant and Blackmon ultimately decide to return, something will have to give elsewhere on the roster.
Players have until May 24 to make a decision on whether to return to school or not.
In the last eighteen months, Indiana head coach Tom Crean has been forced to discipline multiple players who have gotten into trouble away from the court. The most recent instance involved forward Emmitt Holt and center Thomas Bryant, with both being cited for illegal possession of alcohol earlier this week. The citation was Holt’s second off-court issue since joining the program last year, when he was suspended four games due to an incident in which the car he was driving struck former teammate Devin Davis after Davis got out of the car.
The incidents do Crean and his staff no favors as they look to return the Indiana program to prominence both within the Big Ten and nationally, and recent issues in the men’s basketball and football programs have caught the attention of school president Michael McRobbie as well. According to the Indianapolis Star, McRobbie let his displeasure be known at the annual all-staff meeting Wednesday, with the characterization being that McRobbie “read them the riot act.”
IU’s president since 2007, he has long taken a supportive, but passive, role with his athletics department. That he felt compelled to deliver such remarks at this week’s all-staff meeting suggest the issue is front and center in the offices of Bryan Hall, the central hub of the university’s administration.
“I expect all of you to ensure that my message is heard loud and clear by all student athletes,” he said according to the excerpts. “I have stressed repeatedly that our student-athletes are first and foremost students! Our ultimate goal is to help them obtain a degree that will prepare them for career and life success.
“We owe this to them.”
While coaches are expected to be mindful of what their athletes may be up to when they aren’t in practice or class, the fact of the matter is that they can’t be with them 24 hours out of the day. That’s where trust comes into play, and over the last eighteen months some Indiana players have made mistakes that have resulted in the program getting negative publicity.
With Wednesday’s developments many will look to Crean to step forward, but he’ll also need leaders within the team to step forward and keep everyone on track. Whether or not that happens will have an impact on the direction of the Indiana program in the upcoming 2015-16 season and beyond.
In 2014, Indiana’s offseason was plagued by off the court issues. On Monday, the first day of classes at IU, another incident reportedly occurred.
Freshman center Thomas Bryant and sophomore forward Emmitt Holt were cited for illegal possession of alcohol in the early hours of Friday morning. According to a report released by the Indiana State Excise Police on Monday, Holt and Bryant were both in a car with bottles of vodka when approached by police. Holt, in the back seat, tried to hide his bottle when he spotted the cops and alerted Bryant, in the front seat, who then tried to hide his. Both were released at the scene.
The Indiana athletic department issued the following statement: “We are aware that men’s basketball players Emmitt Holt and Thomas Bryant were each cited Friday for underage possession of alcohol. We take this matter very seriously and are continuing to gather information.”
The 6-foot-10 Bryant, a top-30 player in the Class of 2015, was a huge commitment for Tom Crean, adding a shot-blocking, rebounding big man to hold down the fort in the middle while returning the perimeter of Yogi Ferrell, James Blackmon Jr. and Troy Williams.
Holt averaged 3.6 points and 3.0 rebounds in 11.4 minutes per game as a freshman. Unfortunately, he’s best known for being the driver who struck teammate Devin Davis on Nov. 1. Davis was hospitalized and would miss the entire 2014-15 season. Holt was cited for illegal consumption and operating a vehicle with a BAC above 0.02.
Indiana is coming a 20-14 season.
Indiana landed a huge recruiting coup on Saturday afternoon as McDonald’s All-American Thomas Bryant pledged to the Hoosiers on national television.
Regarded as a four-star center and the No. 37 overall prospect in the country, according to Rivals, the 6-foot-10, 230-pound Bryant is coming off of a strong week at the McDonald’s All-American Game, as he displayed a high-running motor and a developing skill set. He’ll likely be in line for a bump up the final rankings of most national evaluators because he’s had a very good senior season at Huntington Prep.
One of the best rebounders in the 2015 class, Bryant picking Indiana is important for head coach Tom Crean because it gives them an additional big man that can play inside for them next season alongside returning junior Hanner Mosquera-Perea.
Indiana won the commitment of Bryant over his other finalists of Kentucky, Missouri and Syracuse. Bryant joins four-star forward Juwan Morgan and three-star wing O.G. Anunoby in Indiana’s 2015 class.
Despite not being in the NCAA tournament, Syracuse made news on Thursday.
Hours before Notre Dame and Northeastern tipped to start the Round of 64, Jim Boeheim held a press conference to address the sanctions imposed on his program, the most impactful of which was a loss of 12 scholarships over a four-year period. However, by Thursday afternoon, the Syracuse scholarship situation became a little bit clearer.
Sophomore B.J. Johnson announced he would transfer. Fellow sophomore Ron Patterson did the same shortly after.
Syracuse is graduating Rakeem Christmas this spring and has four commits set to join the program this fall, putting the Orange at the maximum 13 scholarship limit. Matthew Moyer, a 2016 recruit, is also committed to Syracuse and like the four 2015 signees, he too has said he still intends on attending Syracuse.
The 2016-17 season would have been problematic. Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije both graduating would free up two more scholarships, but the Orange would still be one over the limit entering that season. Even if Syracuse had lost Chris McCullough to the 2016 NBA Draft, there still wouldn’t have been room for Moyer.
As Mike Waters of the Post-Standard points out, the departures of Johnson and Patterson make it possible for the Syracuse coaching staff to continue its pursuit of Huntington Prep (West Virginia) 2015 big man Thomas Bryant and 2016 wing Tyus Battle of Gill St. Bernard’s High (New Jersey). In November, Bryant cut his list to Syracuse, Indiana and Missouri. The Orange are one of seven finalists for the services of Battle.
Johnson, the 6-foot-7 forward, averaged 4.2 points and 3.6 boards per game. Ron Patterson, the former Indiana commit, averaged 2.6 points per game. Each logged less than 15 minutes a contest.
With the early signing period wrapped up, the focus now turns to the remaining prospects who are still available in the 2015 class. As a four-star center and one of the best players in the country, there is plenty of interest in New York native Thomas Bryant and he’s cut his list to three schools, according to Jerry Meyer of 24/7Sports.
The 6-foot-10, 230-pound Bryant has trimmed his list to Indiana, Missouri and Syracuse, according to Meyer, and he’ll sign in the spring, which is common for elite players who have options. But it appears that list may not be concrete, as Bryant went to Kentucky for a game on Friday night with some Huntington Prep teammates. Bryant sat behind the Kentucky bench during the Wildcats’ home win against Boston, according to Ben Roberts of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
A native of Rochester, NY, Bryant is regarded as the No. 36 overall player in Rivals‘ 2015 rankings. The high-motored Bryant is a big and physical front court presence who works the glass and is particularly effective on putbacks. Bryant has already taken official visits to Syracuse in September and Missouri in October and this will be an intriguing recruitment to monitor.
While the Orange are the perceived local favorite due to his New York roots, Bryant’s former head coach at Huntington Prep, Rob Fulford, was hired as an assistant coach at Missouri this summer and already has a strong relationship with a player that he already had to recruit once before.
Don’t count out Indiana, though, as the Hoosiers need big bodies and Bryant could be attracted to playing time, as well. And Kentucky adding themselves into the mix almost always makes for another intriguing element as head coach John Calipari has been known to get things done with big-time recruits before.
In 17 games in the Nike EYBL this past spring and summer, Bryant averaged 10.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game on 58 percent shooting from the field while playing with Team Scan.