An Argument For AND Against IUBB as Contenders Next Season

Mackenzie Mgabko, Indiana Men's Basketball
Mackenzie Mgabko, Indiana Men's Basketball / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
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Myles Rice, Indiana Men's Basketball
Myles Rice, Indiana Men's Basketball / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


This is a squad with no shortage of talent. Malik Reneau (All-Big Ten honorable mention last season) and Mackenzie Mgbako (Big Ten co-Freshman of the Year last season) are back and should step into the alpha roles in 2024-2025. With Reneau's ability to have his way down low in the trenches and Mgbako's preference to punish defenders from the perimeter, the team has a 2 strong pillars to build the rest of the foundation off of.

Let's not get it twisted now though, this team is much, MUCH more than just Mgbako and Reneau.

Myles Rice, who was fresh off of a compelling victory over cancer during the year prior to last, is now fresh off of a victory in the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year race after a masterful first collegiate campaign at Washington State. His cool, calm, and collected presence at the point guard position is going to be a beautiful thing to behold in B-Town. His west coast comrade Kanaan Carlyle, also coming off of an impressive inaugural NCAA year, will also be around to offer an electric source of offense and energy off the bench.

Oumar Ballo, who many pegged as the #1 overall available player in the transfer portal prior to the commencement of commitment season, brings his monstrous physique to fill the void left by the departure of Kel'el Ware. The 7-footer from Mali is nothing short of a beast, and should feast on the boards and in the paint. It is difficult to decipher a big man of his denomination when you look back through the Hoosier history books, and it will be interesting to see how he fares as the anchor up front.

Trey Galloway, who is among the most beloved Indiana Hoosiers in recent memory, is back in town to provide his usual dosage of energizer bunny type antics all over the court. He and fellow 5th-year senior Anthony Leal's simultaneous announcements to return in 2024-2025 were the preliminary dominoes to fall in the whirlwind of wins that have ensued for this program throughout the course of the last few months.

Did we mention inbound McDonald's All-American and top-20 nationally ranked recruit Bryson Tucker? The 6'7" swingman is not garnering the type of buzz that he should be, but the entire country will awaken from their subtle slumbers soon enough. Do not be startled if/when the savvy, crafty product of IMG Academy blossoms into the best overall player on this entire team by the punctuation mark of next season.

We could go on and on and on and on about how each and every troop in this tribe could truly make strong contributions next season (including Gabe Cupps, Jakai Newton, Luke Goode, and Langdon Hatton), but we will spare you the time. The point is, this is one of the deepest teams in the recent history of Indiana men's basketball. Not only that, but this is a roster which features a diverse set of skillsets.

Stars? Check.

We already touched on Mgabko and Reneau, but just one more quick note in regards to the maturation of those two. Reneau was semi-solid during his freshman season, and elevated that adjective to superb in during his sophomore year. Mgbako looked the part of a bust early on as a rookie, but his steady progression throughout the course of the season showcased the type of growth which fans should be hyped about. Expect them each to pick up right where they left off in their process of progression.

Defenders? Check.

Here is a list of the guys on this roster who would serve as viable candidates for minutes effectively defending an opponent's top perimeter scoring threat: Trey Galloway, Jakai Newton, Bryson Tucker, Gabe Cupps. There are other guys who could see spot minutes guarding major scoring threats (Mgbako, Leal, etc.), but simply having that quartet of outside stoppers will go a long way in keeping everyone's legs fresh.

It also does not hurt that lurking behind those wing defenders is the aforementioned albatross Oumar Ballo awaiting anyone who dares to test their luck with meeting him at the rim. Ballo is a big time shot-blocker (1.3 BPG in each of the past 3 seasons) with the frame to force penetrators into difficult business decisions regarding whether or not to proceed forth or pull it back out upon encountering the mammoth known to mankind as Ballo.

Secondary scorers? Check.

There is an abundance of guys not named Mackenzie Mgbako or Malik Reneau who can go get themselves a bucket, but the 2 who stand to alleviate the most pressure from the forward combo are definitely Rice and Carlyle.

Just watch the tape, it speaks for itself.

Rebounders? Check.

Referencing back to the behemoth we call Ballo, the Hoosiers are now home to the nation's 15th top rebounder from a season ago at 10.1 RPG. Reneau's size and sturdiness will also serve as a source of rebounding support, as the sophomore finished second on the squad with 6.0 RPG in 2023-2024.

Shooters? Check.

Welcome to the family, Luke Goode. Or dare we say, Nick Zeisloft?

Goode's arrival will not immediately rectify all of the shooting woes which plagued the Hoosier personnel a season ago, but just having his gravity out there on the floor should open up mounds of space for the primary scorers to attack in. Anthony Leal connected on almost 50% of his 19 attempts from deep last year, and should sustain his spot as a steady sniping hand off the bench once again.

Furthermore, some of these guys simply cannot possibly replicate the ratchet rate of brick-laying which they produced in 2023-2024. The team shot a tragic 32.4% from deep as a collective unit. Judging from his increased levels of comfort hoisting as time went on last year, it is assumed that Mackenzie Mgbako is due for a bump up from his 32.7% hit rate from 3. Malik Reneau showcased an improved stroke last year compared to his freshman run, and can rationally be expected to take another step forward in this realm during his junior year.

Trey Galloway shot just 26% from beyond the arc last year, while Myles Rice shot 27.5% and Kanaan Carlyle hit only 32% of his looks from downtown. Common sense tells us that these fellas should improve in the shooting department with an improved cast of players surrounding them in comparison to the ones that joined them on the floor a season ago.