Indiana Basketball: Parker Stewart fills massive hole in IU roster


How will Indiana basketball newcomer Parker Stewart impact the team?

Former UT-Martin guard Parker Stewart is headed to Indiana and could potentially even join the team in January. We have already written a brief article on the news — which broke Tuesday afternoon — but I wanted to go more in-depth about what the Hoosiers are getting in Stewart.

Long story short: shooting.

Stewart averaged 19.2 points per game last season as UT-Martin’s alpha-dog scorer and did so by shooting a lot of threes. He attempted 8.2 threes per game and shot 35% from that range.

People could look at Stewart’s basketball reference page and be a little put off by his 41% shooting from the field, but I don’t think it is of concern. It is a lot to ask of a three-star sophomore to contribute to that much of an offense, but Stewart was able to get points in bunches.

I’ve scoured the internet for tape, and this 2,000 view youtube video is the best I can provide to show some of what I am talking about:

You can only tell so much from highlight videos, but when you take a glimpse at Stewart’s tape, you can see he is more than just a shooter. He can make it off the dribble, off the catch, from three, and from midrange. He uses a hop to set up his jump shot and has a very rhythmic hesitation-to-hop dribbling dance before rearing up from deep.

Whatever shot is he taking, one thing is clear: that jump shot is silky smooth. He stays on balance in almost any circumstance and can catch with almost no dip before sending the ball hoop-bound. His lift is minimal and his shot looks the same in every clip of that video.

When Stewart is plugged into IU’s offense, he will likely have far more open looks from three and won’t have to do as much with the ball. His two-point attempts will go down and they will be easier than they were at UT-Martin. The threes will be more open and more spot-up heavy as a result of playing with more weapons around him. I can see him hitting closer to 40% of his threes with the Hoosiers.

The main culprit for Stewart’s low percentages from the field most is most likely a combination of intense defense and average finishing skills. His moves around the basket won’t blow anyone away, but when you are required to score almost 20 points per game, a certain amount of close shots are required. That won’t be the case when he is in Bloomington, where he will be able to score with less volume.

A statistical comparison to Stewart is Damian Lillard. Here are the stats for both players in their sophomore seasons:

Stewart: 36.2 minutes, 19.2 points, 15.2 attempts, 8.2 3pt attempts, 41% FG, 34.5% 3pt
Lillard: 34.3 minutes, 19.9 points, 13.8 attempts, 6.9 3pt attempts, 43.1% FG, 39.3% 3pt

Now I’m not suggesting Stewart will one day grace the cover of NBA 2k. The point is that many three-point heavy high-volume scorers have iffy field goal percentages at the mid-major level. It usually gets better once they go to a better team, which, in Lillard’s case, was the Portland Trail Blazers.

If Stewart can play starting January, it would be a great thing for this Hoosier team. He could become the second-highest scoring player on the team behind Trayce Jackson-Davis. It would be a symbiotic relationship, with Stewart spacing the floor for his big man and Jackson-Davis creating open looks from three with his dominant paint presence.

Indiana’s existing guards are all good, but none are dominant scorers. Consistent scoring from the backcourt is something the Hoosiers have been lacking for two years, and Stewart immediately addresses that issue.

Hoosier fans should be psyched to have Parker Stewart not only potentially for this season, but for the future as well.

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