Indiana Basketball: 2019-20 end of season awards

Indiana basketball (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
Indiana basketball (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /
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Justin Smith, Indiana Basketball
Justin Smith, Indiana Basketball. (Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images) /

Most Improved Player: Justin Smith

Some people continue to just look at the stats and the end of games and act like Justin Smith wasn’t a huge part of the 20-win season. But it’s a fact that he was a big part of it.

Through his first two seasons in Bloomington, Smith believed scoring was the only way he would be able to impact the game. While he still showcased an ability to score, he was extremely inefficient and inconsistent. This year, however, he took a big step forward.

If you’re looking at the stats, and that alone, one thing should catch your eye. Smith was the only  Indiana player to play at least 30 minutes a game. If that doesn’t show you the impact he made on the court, I don’t know what does.

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After averaging 8.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 0.4 steals per game through his first two seasons, Smith took those numbers to 10.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.0 steal per game as a junior.

While his offensive game took the next step, his highest offensive rating (108.0) in his career, it was his defense that took a big leap. After the season ended and coming into the preseason, Archie Miller made it clear that Justin Smith had the potential to be a terrific defender and needed to in order to help the Hoosiers. Justin Smith not only had his best defensive rating (99.8), he also saw his fouls per 40 minutes drop from 5.0 to 2.7.

"“If the ball doesn’t come to me offensively, I’ve got to make my impact somewhere else,” Smith emphasized. “And I’m okay with that. Whether it’s getting steals, getting rebounds, whatever is needed of me.”"

Smith started to show the effort and energy needed to play consistently at the Big Ten level and will look to take his play to an even higher level last season.