Mackenzie Mgbako is Due for a Monster 2024-2025 Season

Mackenzie Mgbako, Indiana Men's Basketball
Mackenzie Mgbako, Indiana Men's Basketball / David Berding/GettyImages

The suspense is over: Mackenzie Mgbako will officially be back in Bloomington next season, and we are officially declaring him among the likeliest returning college basketball players in the country to make a star leap in 2024-2025.

After overcoming an extremely sluggish start to his freshman campaign, he progressively improved throughout the 2023-2024 season. His growth ended up earning him Big Ten co-Freshman of the Year honors, and his maturation from the beginning to the end was one of the few silver linings from an overall disappointing season for the entire team.

Brooks Barnhizer, Mackenzie Mgbako
Mackenzie Mgbako, Indiana Men's Basketball / Michael Hickey/GettyImages

While starting all of IU's 33 games this year, the product of New Jersey averaged 27.0 MPG, 12.2 PPG and 4.1 RPG on shooting splits of 39.5% FG/32.7% 3/82.1% FT. In the team's last 18 games of the season, his efficiency remained rocky (39.2% FG/33.6% 3/76.3% FT) and rebounding stayed steady (4.3 RPG) but his scoring uptick (14.6 PPG) was a sign of encouragement. Right around the turn of the calendar year his confidence started boosting and his heightened aggression offensively was a direct reflection of that sentiment.

As we ponder the possibilities of what can and may transpire come next season, the hope is that Mgbako can sustain his current wave of positive momentum and pick things up right where he left off at the conclusion of the 2023-2024 campaign. He has all of the tools to take a major step forward next year, but it is on him to put in the necessary work this offseason in order to manifest that leap.

Mackenzie Mgbako
Mackenzie Mgbako, Indiana Men's Basketball / Kirk Irwin/GettyImages

The announcement of his return accompanied a massive sigh of relief for this entire program, and puts Mike Woodson one step closer to filling out his depth chart for next year. To refresh your memory, here is how things look as of this present moment with regards to the current rotation given the guys we know will be on this squad:

PG | Gabe Cupps (6'2", 175 lbs | Sophomore)

SG | Trey Galloway (6'5", 205 lbs | Senior), Jakai Newton (6'3", 205 lbs | Sophomore)

SF | Bryson Tucker (6'7", 185 lbs | Freshman), Anthony Leal (6'5", 200 lbs | Senior)

PF | Mackenzie Mgbako (6'8", 220 lbs | Sophomore)

C | Malik Reneau (6'9", 235 lbs | Junior)

Mgbako might not be a natural 4, but he has the size and skillset to fit the mold of a combo forward. Regardless of which forward spot he slots into, there is no questioning he should and will retain his place in the starting unit. And even before factoring in the impending freshman/transfer additions to come, he will already have no shortage of offensive support.

Malik Reneau will be the focal point of the offensive flow, and he will garner loads of attention from opposing defenses. Trey Galloway was among the top dime droppers in the Big Ten this season, and defenses are always going to have to gameplan for his relentless rim attacking. There are endless reasons why Bryson Tucker is one of the top 20 recruits in the incoming 2024 freshman class, and his presence is always going to require a lot of diligence from opposing defenses as well.

With a few subtle sources of FOR REAL firepower around him, Mgbako is going to have all the opportunity in the world to blossom into IU's latest and greatest star. As previously noted, it all boils down to the work that he puts into his craft this offseason. If he dials in and stays focused, we could be in store for a masterpiece of a 2024-2025 season from Mackenzie Mgbako.

Welcome home, Mackenzie!

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