The Big Ten basketball landscape has changed dramatically over the past few months, and Indiana Basketball has been the benefactor.
An insanely difficult conference last season, the Big Ten burned bright with promise for seasons to come. However, many of the Big Ten’s brightest stars are departing from their schools as a result of this success.
Hundreds of players across the NCAA have entered their names in the 2020 NBA Draft process, and while many of them will be back at school next year, more will stay in this year than years prior. The reason for this is simple: this draft class is one of the weakest in recent memory, and many college players see this as their best chance to be drafted as opposed to 2021 or 2022.
Here’s a brief list talent the Big Ten Conference is losing due to graduation:
Anthony Cowan — Maryland
Zavier Simpson — Michigan
Cassius Winston — Michigan State
Andre Wesson — Ohio State
Lamar Stevens — Penn State
And here’s a list of players either transferring out of the Big Ten (Nojel Eastern therefore not included) or with their name currently in the NBA draft (who actually have a chance to go pro).
Ayo Dosunmu — Illinois
Kofi Cockburn — Illinois
Alan Griffin — Illinois
Luka Garza — Iowa
Jalen Smith — Maryland
Isaiah Livers — Michigan
David DeJulius — Michigan
Xavier Tillman — Michigan State
Marcus Carr — Minnesota
Daniel Oturu — Minnesota
Kaleb Wesson — Ohio State
DJ Carton — Ohio State
Matt Haarms — Purdue
There are more names than those on the list too. Some of these players will be back at school, but many of them will depart. A conference formerly bustling with young talent is now depleted.
Programs like Illinois, which was improving at a steep incline, is now devastated by losing some of its top talent. Minnesota is back to square one. Maryland’s talent is gone and no one is left to replace it. Even Michigan, who seemed to be getting an influx of young talent, has suffered the unexpected losses of David DeJulius and Isaiah Todd, a top ten recruit who decommitted to play in the G League next season.
Through all of this, Indiana has been left unscathed. Devonte Green is gone, but Green could harm more than he could help at times. The team has lost zero leadership and is returning nearly all its key players. To top that off, Khristian Lander, the second-best recruit in Archie Miller’s young tenure at IU, will now be on campus in fall — boosting Indiana’s recruiting class to second in the Big Ten and 13th in the nation.
Indiana, Wisconsin, and Rutgers are the only teams in the Big Ten who haven’t sustained huge losses of talent. However, Wisconsin and Rutgers haven’t GAINED talent, and Indiana has. The near future for the Hoosiers now seems brighter than it has in quite some time.
Luka Garza will almost surely be back at Iowa next season, and Xavier Tillman will likely be back in Lansing as well.
The top tier of the Big Ten is rather clear: Iowa, Wisconsin, and Michigan State.
Then it gets a little murky. Rutgers, Michigan, and Indiana are the next three in an order that remains to be seen. Each team has a small shot to break into that top tier but also has a shot to finish in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten.
A fourth-place finish in the Big Ten is a very realistic and attainable goal for Indiana this next season. Time will only tell how things play out, but, for once, Archie Miller has a deep, talented, and experienced team (he’s never had the three simultaneously). We’ll see what he can do with it.