Indiana Basketball: Expectations for Khristian Lander’s freshman year

Indiana basketball fans received a bolt of adrenaline yesterday when it was announced that Khristian Lander would reclassify to the class of 2020.

Lander, the former number one point guard in the class of 2021, is now the 17th best player in the class of 2020 and the number five point guard. His commitment boosted Indiana’s team recruiting class ranking up to 13th — second in the Big Ten behind Michigan (12th).

So now what? Well, while some people may be rubbing their hands together and chuckling to themselves with the assumption that Indiana has now returned to its blue blood status, that isn’t quite reality.

Lander is an extremely talented point guard who will have a great career while donning cream and crimson. Lander will walk into the first day of practice as the best playmaker Archie Miller will have had BY FAR during his time at Indiana. Romeo Langford was probably more gifted from an NBA potential standpoint with his size and scoring ability, but Lander will almost certainly electrify the Big Ten.

Don’t misunderstand, Lander is an NBA prospect as well, but, as of now, he is projected to go in the late first round after two or three years at IU. Langford was a projected top-five pick before his lone season in Bloomington.

Lander will run Archie Miller’s pick-and-roll happy system better than anyone else has so far. It suits his play style extremely well. If Trayce Jackson-Davis stays three or four years, he and Lander could become the most devastating duo in the Big Ten and perhaps even college basketball as a whole.

There’s a huge asterisk on all of this though. While it’s great news Lander will be on campus earlier than expected, he is at an age disadvantage. He will likely not be tallying more than 20 minutes per game in his freshman season. We will get to see him grow before our very eyes.

Lander’s freshman season will be experiential. He will be able to add muscle, practice with the team, and develop chemistry with his teammates (especially Jackson-Davis), but his first season won’t be anything special like we expected from Langford. It’s a different situation and a different player.

However, if I had to guess, there will be a game in the middle of Big Ten play where something just clicks and Lander begins to really figure things out. Then, after an offseason of work, he will come into his sophomore season ready to dominate.

It may take a year or two of patience to really see Lander become an alpha dog, but that day will come. When it does, the rest of the Big Ten had better watch out. For now, however, let’s approach this season with measured expectations for Khristian Lander.