Crafting the Perfect All-Time IUBB Roster for Modern Basketball

Steve Alford, Indiana Men's Basketball
Steve Alford, Indiana Men's Basketball / Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
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Isiah Thomas IUBB
Isiah Thomas, Indiana Men's Basketball / Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports


PG | Isiah Thomas | 6'1" | 160 lbs | 1979-1981

SG | Damon Bailey | 6'3" | 200 lbs | 1990-1994

SF | Victor Oladipo | 6'5" | 210 lbs | 2010-2013

PF | Christian Watford | 6'9" | 230 lbs | 2009-2013

C | Kel'el Ware | 7'0" | 240 lbs | 2023-2024

It would feel borderline criminal were we to omit Isiah Thomas from any type of all-time Indiana basketball list, so we will swerve past the backlash that would ensue from that route.

Needless to say, "Zeke" could (and some would argue should) feasibly earn starting point guard duties on this squad. However, his electric and speedy methods seem tailor made for a 6th-man, microwave type role for this team. Thomas would hold the reigns to the bench mob, and would be free to dissect bench defenders at his own will.

Sticking to the trend of small guard combinations, some may question the compatibility of Isiah Thomas and fellow IU icon Damon Bailey in the backcourt. Let the record show that we are in no way, shape, or form a part of that "some".

With Thomas penetrating into gaps persistently, dropping capable shooting threats around him would make things a heck of a lot easier for him on his ventures to the cup. Bailey not only qualifies as a capable shooter, he is a certified marksman. Across his 4 campaigns in the candy stripes, he never shot worse than 42% from beyond the arc on moderate volume (roughly 2.9 attempts from deep per game during his 4-year tenure at Indiana). While there is much more to his scoring arsenal than just his shooting stroke, his presence would require a ton of attention and gravity from opposing defenses, thus making everything easier for everyone else.

Just like the smaller backcourt combo in the starting lineup, the bench's micro coupling of guards would require some size and physicality around them. Enter Victor Oladipo, Christian Watford, and the NBA's newest Hoosier Kel'el Ware.

In Oladipo, you have arguably O.G. Anunoby's closest competitor in a poll regarding Indiana's all-time greatest wing defender. Vic wreaked havoc on opposing scorers during his time in B-Town, always seemingly everywhere on the court. He played with an unwavering amount of energy that was highly consistently contagious, and his selfless spirit was always infectious when it came to inspiring his teammates. In the minutes that he and Anunoby would theoretically share the floor on this team, the opposition's top 2 perimeter scoring threats would instantly become the opposition's bottom 2 perimeter scoring threats.

Watford's case is simple: he is a rangy (7'0" wingspan) combo forward who can hit outside shots efficiently (career 42.4% connection rate from deep in 4 seasons at IU) while also generating offense in a multitude of other manners. He may not have been highly regarded for his defensive abilities, but in an age of switching defenses having a player of his prototype would be beneficial. We saw Watford go from defending a traditional power forward one game to a guard (example: Doron Lamb from Kentucky) the next towards the tail end of his tenure, signaling a sign of trust from his coaches for him not only remaining adaptable given certain matchup scenarios but furthermore holding his own in those situations.

Last but not least, we come to the backup big man spot. There have been a surplus of superb centers when you look back throughout the rich history of this program, from more recent names like Cody Zeller and Noah Vonleh to more aged names like Jared Jeffries and Walt Bellamy. Those guys are all great in their own rights, but those guys offer a lot of the same tantalizing gifts that TJD does. In the modern age of basketball, it has become more and more vital to field different dynamics within different roster spots.

With Jackson-Davis doing basically all of his damage near the basket and on the low block, finding a secondary big fella cut from a different cloth would be important for purposes of diversification. Ware's mountainous frame and roughly 7'5" wingspan yield nightmares in the minds of opposing scorers, and his offensive game is much more diverse than TJD's. Most notably, he offers a steady source of floor spacing from the center spot (albeit on minuscule volume up to this point).


G | Jordan Hulls | 6'1" | 180 lbs | 2009-2013

F | Troy Williams | 6'7" | 215 lbs | 2013-2016

C | D.J. White | 6'9" | 240 lbs | 2004-2008

Stretching beyond the typical 10-man rotation, there would be a trio of additional scholarships to fill. We already outlined the main qualities that a player needs to exude in order to find success in today's game of basketball, so filling the remaining roster spots with players who can shoot, defend, and/or provide a prominent presence in the paint would go a long way in molding this squad around the edges.

Jordan Hulls would join a solely sub-6'3" backcourt rotation, and the lack of size at the guard spots would undoubtedly be met with pessimism. The thing is, Jordan Hulls is the greatest shooter in the history of Indiana University basketball. Opponents almost have to run a box-and-1 just to constantly account for the flamethrower known as his right wrist, and with him on the court it all goes back to the concept of making everyone else's jobs easier.

Troy Williams was never a superstar in his time playing under Tom Crean, but he was nonetheless an integral member of multiple high-quality Indiana teams. His primary duties on this team would simply be to terrorize opposing perimeter scorers via his in-your-grill style of defense while providing rebounding support to the big men. Aside from that, getting out and filling lanes on the break would be where he would likely locate a lion's share of his buckets.

Finally, 2008 Big Ten Player of the Year D.J. White would round out the roster. Let's make this clear, if D.J. White is your 3rd-string center you have some appallingly bright days ahead on the schedule. White brings a lot of the same characteristics to the court as Trayce Jackson-Davis, and would be looked to as a sort of "enforcer" within the structure of this hypothetical depth chart.