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Eyeing IU


Now what?

A look at Indiana's future lineups

Seniors Jordan Hulls, Christian Watford and Derek Elston are graduating. Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller are gone for the NBA. At least one more player will be off scholarship in Bloomington before the start of next season.

Next year's Indiana team will be wildly different from the version that won 29 games and made it to the Sweet 16 this year. It will have four new starters, assuming Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell keeps his job as maestro of the offense. It will include six incoming freshmen and two seniors, Maurice Creek and Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year Will Sheehey.

How those players fit together, as well as the rest of the Hoosiers, will determine whether this team can create similar results to this season. With that in mind, here's a way-too-early look at possibilities for next season's lineups. Keep in mind at least one of these players will either have transferred or been removed from his scholarship by August.

Point guard

Potential starter: Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell (So.)

Potential backups: Stan Robinson (Fr.), Remy Abell (Jr.)

Ferrell the only returning starter and the team's most important returner, as well. He led the team in assists this season, and while he made some typical freshman mistakes, he was heady in big moments and kept the offense in motion.

Robinson, a top-75 player who is 6-foot-4 and can play both guard positions, would be the likely backup for Ferrell. Abell is another option that could see some time at the point, but would more likely run out of the two-guard for most sets, which we will address next.

Despite Hulls' departure, this position stands to gain from another year of experience for Ferrell and Abell and the inclusion of another quick, athletic guard in Robinson. There's plenty to like about the potential perimeter options IU coach Tom Crean could employ from the top of the key.

Shooting guard

Potential starter: Remy Abell (Jr.)

Potential backups: Stan Robinson (Fr.), Troy Williams (Fr.), Austin Etherington (Jr.), Maurice Creek (Sr.)

Abell is listed as a starter here because the two is his true position, and he has more experience at the spot than any other options for Crean at this point. However, there is no lock on the shooting guard role, and from some of the sets IU has run in the past, it seems Crean might be open to bringing some length to the position — a la the 6-foot-6 Williams — and essentially playing two small forwards.

The Hoosiers have a bevy of options at the two and the three, and most of them are interchangeable. That's a running theme with this group in the season to come: There are players with enough athleticism to fill multiple roles.

The problem, then, is finding a natural fit for those hybrids while making sure the combinations on the court mesh together well.

Small forward

Potential starter: Will Sheehey (Sr.)

Potential backups: Noah Vonleh (Fr.), Troy Williams (Fr.), Collin Hartman (Fr.), Jeremy Hollowell (So.), Maurice Creek (Sr.)

Sheehey has a virtual lock on this position, but there are quite a few players beneath him that Crean could put on the floor. Vonleh is the highest-rated recruit Crean has ever signed, and as a combo forward could play this spot or start at the four.

Williams is a slasher with a jump shot that has improved over the course of his final high school season and provides plenty of athleticism. Hartman is more of a sharpshooter and a spot-up option and has stepped up his production on the boards some as a senior at Cathedral.

Hollowell is a nice hybrid at this spot, a player who can put the ball on the floor some and shoot it, and Creek is another option as a shooter.

Power forward and center

Potential starter: Noah Vonleh (Fr.)

Potential backups: Devin Davis (Fr.), Luke Fischer (Fr.), Jeremy Hollowell (So.), Hanner Perea (So.), Peter Jurkin (So.)

With Watford and Zeller gone, time at the low block forward spots is wide open for the coming season. If IU keeps in step with what it did with the four this season, then Vonleh is the perfect fit to fill the power forward role.

Vonleh has a skill set mirroring Watford's, and in many ways, he is a better player at this stage than Watford was when he reached Bloomington. The consensus top-10 recruit can score from inside and out, and he's widely regarded as one of the best rebounders in the Class of 2013. The incoming freshman also has an edge to his game, a mean streak that Watford took some time to develop when he started playing for the Hoosiers.

Hollowell is the next best contender for this spot, and his game is very similar to Watford's, as well. However, the rising sophomore will have to do more to showcase the talent that made him such a highly sought-after recruit before donning the cream and crimson. Offseason improvements will be key.

It's tough to tell where the others — Davis, Fischer, Perea and Jurkin — fit into the four picture, particularly because they are all back to the basket players. Other than Davis, they all have the size to try and fit into the biggest shoes on the 2012-13 offense.


Potential starter: Luke Fischer (Fr.)

Potential backups: Hanner Perea (So.), Peter Jurkin (So.)

This spot is nearly impossible to predict.

It might also be the Achilles' heel for next season's squad. There is no one who can replace Zeller, and trying to do so by committee won't make up for a lack of his varied offensive talents.

Fischer might be the best player to try and make up for the loss because he is like Zeller in so many ways. At 6-foot-11, his frame is similar to Zeller's when he arrived in Bloomington, and while he isn't as offensively savvy as Zeller, Fischer has plenty of moves and can finish around the rim.

Perea and Jurkin, while gifted athletically, proved this season they are still raw as basketball players. Neither impacted the team much, if at all, on game days. When either of the two took the court, they looked lost, and whether that changes will depend entirely upon strong offseasons.

Fischer might not be as highly touted as Perea was when he signed with IU, but the incoming freshman does have some tools that would help him compete for a starting spot right away.