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Your college hoops weekend recap 🏀
A look at Indiana, a survey of the national recruiting landscape, Drew Timme's NIL insight, and more
The state of Indiana had a pretty good summer. The Indy 500 returned to full capacity, DeAndre Ayton was a Pacer for eight hours, and that house on Zillow with the built-in high school basketball gym trended for a few days. Oh yeah, and Trayce Jackson-Davis announced his return to Bloomington for his senior season.
Let’s start by talking IU.
1. Do you buy the Hoosier hype?
Few big-name programs have polarized college basketball fans more than Indiana has this offseason. The Hoosiers have checked in anywhere from 15th to 13th to 6th — while some question if they should be ranked at all.
Collectively, the writers of The Almanac are somewhere in the between; in our preseason poll, Indiana slots in at No. 20. However, Jeff Goodman may be higher on the Hoosiers than the rest of the group — he pegged IU as the favorites in the Big Ten.
The Hoosiers run through Trayce Jackson-Davis. But the supporting cast will determine whether IU lives up to its lofty preseason expectations. Take Xavier Johnson, for example, the enigmatic point guard who found a consistent level of play down the stretch of last season. Over Indiana’s final 11 contests, Johnson averaged 16.6 points, 6.6 assists and shot 45.5 percent from deep. Can he sustain that production for a full season? Mike Woodson seems to think so.
“He was playing his best basketball down the stretch for us, and where he is today, I see a major, major jump,” he told Goodman.
But beyond TJD’s running mate, freshman Jalen Hood-Schifino brims with potential. The 6-6 Montverde grad provides a blend of vertical athleticism and playmaking that no other guard on the roster can replicate.
While he will shine in transition, he must prove himself as a shooter to reach his ceiling. As a unit, IU shot just 33.3 percent from 3 last season — 11th in the Big Ten.
(For those who still haven’t bought The Almanac, it’s just $20. Click here for more.)
2. A flair for the Dra-matic
Two months after de-committing from Purdue, 2023 guard Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn chose Illinois as his new destination. His pledge gives Brad Underwood his second top-75 recruit in the class of 2023, as Gibbs-Lawhorn forms a strong foundation with 4-star forward Amani Hansberry.
On the court, the 6-1, 165-pound floor general plays with a ferocity that belies his lack of size. Gibbs-Lawhorn angrily attacks the rim, flashing the burst to blow by his defender and the pop to punctuate a finish with a dunk.
But he also shows off deep range. In particular, he looks electric shooting off the bounce:
If Trent Frazier’s usage tells us anything, Underwood will give freedom to guards who can create off of ball screens. Of course, it would be unfair to expect Frazier’s level of shooting out of Gibbs-Lawhorn in Year 1. But he projects as a multi-year contributor who could eventually thrive in a similar role.
3. Inside the mind of Drew Timme
Drew Timme’s return to Gonzaga didn’t come as a complete shock. He wasn’t a first-round lock, and he might not have heard his name called on draft night. Still, after an illustrious career for the Zags, few would have blamed him had he wanted to move on to the professional ranks.
For us who cover college hoops, though, we’ll never complain about one of the faces of the sport sticking around for another year (well… unless it’s a Duke player; I’d probably complain about that). But what made Timme want to come back for his senior season?
John Fanta sat down with the two-time All-American for an exclusive interview. The Fox Sports piece covers everything from the origin of Timme’s mustache, his favorite beer, his expectations for the season and the impact of NIL on his return to Spokane:
I would just say this: Look at all the dudes that came back because of [NIL]. Without NIL, Oscar (Tshiebwe) and I aren’t back […] We’re able to get more money here by doing it than heading elsewhere. Look at the big matchups because of stars returning. I can’t wait to face Oscar and Kentucky this season. It raises the level of college basketball. I’m not in this position, but sometimes people have had to leave college basketball just to go make any sort of money for their families to make ends meet. NIL gives people a chance to stay in college, get better and develop while making money and earning a degree.
Timme verbalized what many college basketball fans have thought over the past year. NIL rules, while not perfect, provide an alternative for fringe-NBA prospects who often become the stars of the game. The quality of the sport increases and the players benefit.
As for Timme, he has largely cemented his legacy. Though… a national championship might be even more important to him than all those Dollar Shave Club endorsements.
4. Two 4-stars choose programs in need of a resurgence
Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn wasn’t the only notable weekend commit. A pair of 2023 4-star recruits, Jaland Lowe and Dylan James, also selected their future programs.
Lowe, a top-100 combo guard, picked Jeff Capel and the Pittsburgh Panthers. The addition becomes the latest accomplishment for Capel on the trail — this offseason saw the coach regain some of his recruiting mojo as he landed Colgate transfer Nelly Cummings and top-40 freshman guard Dior Johnson.
Like Johnson, Lowe is a savvy playmaker with good length. The 6-2 lefty flaunted his chops as a passer and scorer at this summer’s Peach Jam, where he averaged 17.7 ppg and 4.7 apg en route to a Peach Jam First Team selection.
James, on the other hand, plays his minutes in the frontcourt. The top-100 forward selected the Georgia Bulldogs Friday evening. At 6-8 with spring-loaded athleticism, James gives Mike White a potential defensive anchor who will be at his disposal for a few seasons. Additionally, he has upside as an inside-outside threat on offense.
Also in the world of recruiting:
6-10 big man Anthony Richardson committed to USF.
Frank Martin picked up his fourth commitment in 2023 as 6-10 big man Sawyer Mayhugh chose UMass.
5. Princeton hosts an on-campus celebration of Pete Carril
It’s been about a month and a half since legendary Princeton coach Pete Carril passed away. In his honor, the university hosted a celebration of life at Jadwin Stadium, attended by family members and former players.
The Trentonian wrote an excellent recap of the event, full of quotes from the attendees. Current Princeton coach Mitch Henderson, who played on Carril’s final team, had one of the most notable comments:
“He was also a pioneer of basketball analytics before anyone knew what that was, which was ironic given that he had never crunched a single number on any computer […] He believed that any shot, regardless of distance, in which you are not guarded, is easier than the shot where you are guarded. We’ve talked about the Princeton Offense, but coach didn’t like that term. For him, it was about five guys playing well together, thinking together, speaking the same language.”
Coaches, regardless of era, will always seek to instill that on-court cohesiveness that Carril mastered.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
Eric Musselman took to the hardwood to challenge one of The Field of 68 founders. Speaking of, if you like Muss’s threads, pick ‘em up here.
THE FAST BREAK
Links to click as you crack open a can of Spam:
It’s not exactly surprising, but the Big Ten and Big 12’s expansion may kill the Pac-12.
Roy Williams will be inducted into the Kansas Hall of Fame this week.
BYU big man Atiki Ally Atiki has some bounce.
The NCAA will finally find Mark Emmert’s replacement by January…allegedly.
You’re here for meaningful college hoops context and insights, not snap judgements. Expect the same from your dating app. See why Blink Date is different.
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THE DTF PODCAST
The downside of so many big men
Oscar Tschiebwe. Drew Timme. Armando Bacot. Hunter Dickinson. Trayce Jackson-Davis. Those are five of the 10 best players in college hoops.
But you can’t place all five of them on the same All-America team. These are the rules.