Indiana has a good problem on its hands in the frontcourt: five players with significant talent, limited minutes to go around.
For the most successful teams in college basketball on a year-to-year basis, possessing a wealth of depth often breeds success, but it also necessitates difficult decisions being made regarding playing time and roles. For Mike Woodson, that’s the exact situation he’ll need to sort out as the season quickly approaches.
It goes without saying that Preseason All-American forward Trayce Jackson Davis and All-Big Ten Honorable Mention Thompson Breed are already penciled in as IU’s starting frontcourt duo. Though the option of pursuing professional basketball opportunities put a giant question mark next to Jackson-Davis and Thompson early in the offseason, the ultimate return of IU’s star big men, who last season averaged a combined 29.4 points and 15.6 rebounds per game, drastically increased Indiana’s ceiling and capabilities ahead of this season.
But that’s where an intriguing dilemma begins to unfold for Indiana. Last season, Jackson-Davis and Thompson played the first and second-most minutes on the team, respectively, while starting all 35 games alongside each other, and that doesn’t figure to change this season, barring unforeseen injuries or circumstances. So where does that leave IU’s three other forwards – junior Jordan Geronimosophomore Logan Duncomb and freshman Malik Reneau? The answer, at least right now, is unclear at best.
In Geronimo, the Hoosiers have one of the most athletic and explosive forwards in the Big Ten, and last season he began to turn those raw tools into meaningful production as a sparkplug off the bench. His 4.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 19.6 percent usage rate per game all represented a step up from his freshman season. But with Jackson-Davis and Thompson returning, will Geronimo realistically experience a notable uptick from his 12.6 minutes per game in 2021? While much of his offseason training has focused on being able to play more on the perimeter this season, it’s likely his best fit will still come as a backup frontcourt player, spelling Jackson-Davis or Thompson when they need a breather.
Then there’s Duncomb, a former four-star recruit who played sparingly as a freshman, and Reneau, a five-star incoming freshman who IU’s coaching staff and players have praised throughout the offseason. With both players, their talent level and ability to contribute are obvious, but as the least experienced members of IU’s frontcourt, playing time might be even harder to come by. Of course, earning their way into a bench role certainly isn’t out of the question, but with Jackson-Davis, Thompson and Geronimo all deserving of sizable roles, the path to consistent minutes for Duncomb and Reneau could be a longer wait than anticipated .