Indiana Basketball: Points of improvement for each returning player

Jerome Hunter, Trayce Jackson-Davis, Armaan Franklin, Indiana Basketball. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
Jerome Hunter, Trayce Jackson-Davis, Armaan Franklin, Indiana Basketball. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /
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Trayce Jackson-Davis, Indiana Basketball
Trayce Jackson-Davis, Armaan Franklin, Indiana basketball. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Sophomore Class

Jerome Hunter

Jerome Hunter will be the x-factor for Archie Miller next season. Hunter had a decent freshman year after coming back from what some reports said was a potentially career-ending leg injury. His stats don’t raise any eyebrows: 3.8 points and 2.1 rebounds per game on 35 percent shooting and 30 percent shooting from three. However, you could see Hunter getting more and more comfortable as a game unfolded.

I expect this progression to continue with a full offseason of work. Hunter can shoot, but recovering from not playing basketball for nearly a year requires a good bit of adjustment. Fatigue can take all the legs out of a shot. His three-point percentage will increase plenty in his sophomore season just by virtue of conditioning and experience. His shot is mechanically beautiful, so the makes will inevitably come.

Strength coach Cliff Marshall will help Hunter gain strength, and I’d imagine we see some more low post touches for Hunter next season as a result

What really needs to improve with Hunter, though, is his defense. Hunter, with his 6-foot-7, 220-pound frame has the potential to be a menacing defender at the collegiate level — quick enough to hang with guards, big enough to bang with the big men down low.

Again, conditioning plays a huge role in this, but Hunter struggled at times last season defensively. If he can come into next season conditioned and familiar with Archie Miller’s defensive system, there’s no reason he can’t be an excellent defender starting from game one. Adding this skill would allow Archie Miller to experiment with more floor spacing without sacrificing defense, and would be huge for the Hoosiers on offense.

Armaan Franklin

Franklin had himself a nice little freshman season. Despite only being a three-star recruit, Franklin came into Bloomington a polished player — sound in fundamentals, not lacking in any skill set. He holds his own on defense, is an above-average passer, can knock down a three or two, and was, at times, the best player on the floor for Indiana.

One thing Franklin needs to improve is his game in the half-court. This includes spot-up shooting and ball handling. He had some great moments scoring or assisting on a basket in transition but lacks the ability to really create his own shot at this point. Indiana’s guards as a whole have trouble putting pressure on the rim, and Franklin is no exception.

Franklin also struggled to consistently hit threes. He shot an atrocious 27 percent from three last season. However, as previously stated, he isn’t necessarily a bad shooter. In a game against Notre Dame early last season, he knocked down four threes and won Indiana the game down the stretch. He also went 3-of-5 from three in the final game of the season versus Nebraska. Those two games didn’t feel like strokes of luck either; it seemed as if it could become normal to expect from Franklin.

One reason why Franklin struggled shooting last season is he often had poor shot selection from beyond the arc. He consistently took tough, contested shots which resulted in wild misses or airballs. Franklin is too good of a shooter to airball for no reason; he simply needs to better recognize when to shoot, when to ball fake, and when to drive.

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Trayce Jackson-Davis

Jackson-Davis was Indiana’s best player last season, just barely missing out on Big Ten Freshman of the Year to Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn. He will be Indiana’s best player again next season.

He does so many things well, but one thing Jackson-Davis needs is a consistent hook shot. I have maintained the opinion for quite some time that he doesn’t need to have a low post game to be successful. Many centers in college and especially the NBA are dominant with just physicality alone, catching lobs and putting back offensive rebounds for their points. The days of skilled big men are dying to athleticism.

However, in Archie Miller’s offense, Trayce Jackson-Davis gets a lot of post touches. As it is right now, Jackson-Davis doesn’t have the low post repertoire to be able to succeed with as many touches as he gets down there. His hook shot is unreliable at best, and very rarely resulted in points despite being used multiple times a game.

Archie Miller either needs to not run low post plays for Jackson-Davis and let him score off of pick and rolls/high post up, where he is at his best, or he needs to teach his young star how to score with his back to the basket.