Returning UI basketball players to watch

In today’s college basketball landscape, players who opt out of the NBA draft after their first two years or choose to skip the transfer portal option are rare. These Indiana male and female basketball players had the option of leaving Bloomington, either to play professionally or at another school, but decided to stay Hoosiers.

All of these players were instrumental in the success of their respective teams, so their offseason decisions were incredible news for the Hoosier faithful. The 2022-23 basketball season is shaping up to be a season for both men’s and women’s teams.

Thompson race

Thompson, who returns to Indiana for his sixth season with the program, was integral to the team’s success last year. Dubbed a “glue guy” by teammates, fans and members of the media, his consistency, effort and leadership keep the team together.

Thompson was second on the team last season in rebounds per game at 7.5 and in field goal percentage at 53.6%. His average of 11.1 points per game was a career high, and he scored 23 times in double figures during the 2021-22 campaign.

Beyond the numbers, Thompson has an invaluable presence on the pitch. His restlessness plays on defense, his patience on offense and his smart decisions on both ends of the court make him an irreplaceable piece of the Hoosiers puzzle. He’s been a team captain since 2020 and is expected to serve as a role model for Indiana’s four new freshmen.

Xavier Johnson

The Indiana point guard’s uncertainties were a problem in the first half of the 2021-22 season, but Johnson’s takeover as the main enabler in the second half sparked a breakout for the senior. fifth grade that fans hope to continue into his senior year. Johnson’s offensive production exploded at the end of the season – his scoring average increased by almost 5 points per game from the start of February until the end of the season.

Johnson’s confidence is one of his biggest assets, and his improved 3-point shooting, shrewd movement around the basket and pesky defense played a huge role in Indiana’s playoff push in March Madness. Given his performance at the end of last season, Johnson is all but guaranteed to start at point guard next year, continuing to provide defensive locks and offensive sparks.

Grace Shepherd

Berger has been Indiana’s most notable offensive threat on an incredibly talented and well-rounded team for the past two years. His 16.2 points per game helped the Hoosiers qualify for the Sweet 16 a year after their first Elite Eight appearance in program history.

Berger has plenty of weapons in his arsenal, but his midrange jumper is one of the deadliest jumpers in the country — 12.5 of his points per game came from two-point range last season. The honorable mention All-American recipient is also a skilled ball handler, sharp passer and long guard defender.

Berger’s poise and intelligence play into his lead by example mentality. She has the chance to be the best player on the strongest team in the Big Ten next year.

mackenzie holmes

Holmes, the only player on this list with several more years of eligibility left, stood out as one of the greatest players in the conference. Although she suffered an injury in the second half of the season, she made it into the top 10 to watch for the Lisa Leslie Award, an honor given to the top center in women’s college basketball.

Holmes led the team in rebounds and blocks per game with 7.0 and 1.7, respectively, while averaging 15.2 points per game. She scored in double figures 22 of the 25 games she appeared in, with a record 30-point performance against Ohio State on December 12.

Her defense around the basket is crucial to the Hoosiers’ success and she’s become more and more athletic over the years. Holmes has been a star throughout her college career, and paired with inbound transfers from Berger and Indiana, she can take her team to new heights.

This article originally appeared in the Orient New Student Guide 2022. Explore the full guide here.

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