Since taking over on the sidelines in early 2021, Mike Woodson has proven his ability to attract some of the top players in each year’s respective recruiting classes. Shortly after his hiring in 2021, he landed a top 30 prospect within that particular class in Tamar Bates. Following the 2021-2022 season, he landed two top 40 prospects in the forms of Jalen Hood-Schifino and Malik Reneau. And after the conclusion of the 2022-2023 season, he closed another big time pact with the ninth rated player for this season’s incoming freshman class.
Mackenzie Mgbako’s commitment in May 2023 was a mega move for Woodson and the program as a whole. Throughout the course of his high school career, he showcased strong versatility as a scorer. His shooting in particular was the thing that scouts raved about when dissecting his game. Despite missing roughly a month of his senior season, he still played at an extremely high level and was rewarded in the form of an invitation to participate in the 2023 McDonald’s All-American Game.
With all of the accolades and hype, Mgbako came to Bloomington carrying heavy expectations. When his performance was largely subpar throughout his first 5 games, he was met with heavy criticism. The sweet shooting stroke which he was so lauded for previously had seemingly escaped him. And while his 2-7 hit rate from outside during the Hoosiers’ last two games may be shaky, he has been quietly excellent in finding other ways to contribute. The 15.5 point average in those two is splendid, but the 7.5 rebound average has been superb. And he has been solid on the defensive end as well:
The shooting should come around, and he is only going to continue to gain confidence on the floor as he keeps finding further methods of difference making. As he continues to get more and more comfortable playing at this level, he will continue to remind the entire country why this program was so ecstatic to have him.
If Mgbako can continue to keep his head on straight off the court and his energy levels high on the court, he could progressively re-insert himself back into 2024 1st round rumors. While the draft is for sure his main career priority, he must remain fixated on fortifying his skillset and character in the present. The more he can continue to help his Indiana Hoosiers succeed this season, the more prospects he could leap on draft day for next season.