A new offseason means a new weekly column!
Check out below for the first installment of “Weekend Brunch”, a new project that will be published each and every Friday on all the latest happenings in the world of college basketball.
A La Carte
Jackson Davis primed for massive junior season at Indiana
Trayce Jackson-Davis is an outlier.
Indiana’s talented big man is the only player among the Big Ten’s Top-15 scorers from last season that didn’t either declare for the NBA Draft or enter the transfer portal.
His decision to return to school is also the primary reason why the Hoosiers have a chance to finish in the upper tier of the Big Ten next year in what will be Mike Woodson’s first season as coach of his alma mater.
“He’s a big center that can run and jump,” Woodson recently said of the 6-9 Jackson-Davis, who averaged 19.1 points and nine rebounds last season as a sophomore. “He’s very athletic and has a strong left hand.”
A menace in the paint, Jackson-Davis has shot an average of 54.2 percent from the field during his first two years in Bloomington, but has yet to attempt a single three-point shot in his career. Don’t be surprised if that changes under Woodson.
“He needs to develop a little jump shot,” Woodson said of Jackson-Davis. “In watching him since I’ve been here, he’s got good form. I’ve got to give him the confidence and put him in the right positions where he feels comfortable shooting the ball. That’s going to be important in terms of his development and eventually playing in the NBA.”
Barring something unforeseen, Jackson-Davis should be a preseason All-American and the favorite to be named Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year along with Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson.
He should also have a better supporting cast as a junior.
Woodson added two potential starters in a pair of transfers — Pitt’s Xavier Johnson (14.2 points, 5.7 assists, 3.4 rebounds) and Northwestern’s Miller Kopp (11.3 points) — as well as another potential starter in 6-4 freshman Tamar Bates. A consensus four-star recruit by 247 Sports, Bates was originally committed to Texas before Shaka Smart took the head coaching job at Marquette. All three players should help Indiana have better spacing on offense, which is important for a program that’s shot an average of 32.5 percent from three-point range in the last two seasons.
Quality role players also return in Race Thompson, Rob Phinisee, Jerome Hunter, Trey Galloway, and Jordan Geronimo, who all averaged eight minutes or more last year.
Indiana is a combined 32-27 over the past two seasons with Jackson-Davis in the lineup, with a 16-23 record in Big Ten regular season games.
The Hoosiers have not played in the NCAA Tournament since 2016 and are currently ranked 30th in the ROTHSTEIN 45.
- One thing that’s still not getting enough attention: Baylor’s average margin of victory during the NCAA Tournament was a whopping 15.3 points.
- Georgia transfer Sahvir Wheeler said earlier this week that he’s receiving interest from Texas, Kentucky, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Gonzaga, Michigan, LSU, Oregon State, Stanford, and Wichita State. The 5-10 point guard led the SEC in assists last season (7.4) while also averaging 14 points and 3.8 rebounds.
- The Pac-12 plans to hold the inaugural Pac-12 Coast-to-Coast Challenge next season in Las Vegas, according to Pac-12 Deputy Commissioner Jamie Zaninovich. The event was originally scheduled to be held last December at T-Mobile Arena, but was cancelled due to COVID-19. Official matchups and dates are TBD.
- Loyola Chicago, Drake, and Northern Iowa have all had several key players announce their plans to return to school next season in an effort to use their additional year of eligibility from the NCAA. Don’t dismiss the idea of this conference again having multiple teams in the NCAA Tournament in 2022.
- Our deepest prayers and condolences go to the family of former Kentucky guard Terrence Clarke, who was tragically killed last week in a car accident in Los Angeles. Every day is indeed a gift.
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- The Breakfast Buffet: Duke and UNC step up a weight class in PK85, Kansas/Tennessee, Villanova
- The Breakfast Buffet: UConn/Oregon, Oumar Ballo, Brandon Miller
- The Breakfast Buffet: Bill Self returns, Arkansas, Courtney Ramey