Indiana Basketball: Midseason Report Cards for the Hoosiers' Freshmen

Scott Henry@@4QuartersRadioFeatured ColumnistJanuary 29, 2013

Indiana Basketball: Midseason Report Cards for the Hoosiers' Freshmen

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    Indiana's 2012 basketball recruiting class was expected to push the veteran team over the top and return it to the Final Four.

    The quartet of touted prospects, three of them members of the ESPN top 100, even arrived with a catchy and potent nickname: "The Movement."

    Midway through their debut seasons, the rookies have yet to deliver even on the modest promise of quality depth, battling through NCAA suspensions and their own hesitancy to assert themselves as top players in the Big Ten.

    Thanks to the veteran returning core, the Hoosiers aren't left staggering by the shaky youngsters, but coach Tom Crean will certainly demand greater improvement as March draws near.

    These grades reflect how the players have performed during the season and the potential for future improvement. If the switch flips on at the right time, IU still has the potential to raise a sixth banner and one of these players can position himself for a run at All-Big Ten honors next season.

PG Yogi Ferrell

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    Being handed the keys to America's No. 1 team as a first-time starter is a daunting task for anyone, let alone a freshman. Indianapolis native Yogi Ferrell, though, has simply kept both hands on the wheel and guided Indiana to third in the nation in offensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy.

    IU is also second nationally in points per game at 83.3, with 56 percent of its baskets coming off assists. Ferrell is personally responsible for 4.5 dimes per night, ranking sixth in the Big Ten. Only three times this season has he finished a game with a negative assist/turnover ratio, and his season A/T figure stands at a solid 2.3.

    Perhaps the only growing pain in Ferrell's game has been his shot, which has scuffled along below 40 percent for most of the season. For a pass-first point guard, this is not a major concern, but he does need to be a threat that defenses can respect.

    By the end of the loss to Wisconsin, Ferrell was beginning to be ignored. He made the Badgers pay with a clutch three-pointer to trim a 10-point lead down to one. Since that game, Ferrell has made 12 of his last 20 shots, including a 4-of-9 stretch from three.

    Since day one, he has demonstrated his ability to break the defense down with the dribble, and that ability should be further magnified if his defender has to play out to contest his jump shot. If that form continues, Ferrell could be a true X-factor for IU during its tournament run.

    GRADE: B+ (If his shot stays consistent and breaks 40 percent by season's end, Ferrell should be a Big Ten All-Freshman performer.)

SF Jeremy Hollowell

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    Forward Jeremy Hollowell looked like he was going to be a potent bench weapon after his first two collegiate games. He knocked in 26 points over 36 minutes on those two nights, drawing tremendous excitement from anyone not stopping to consider that IU was playing Bryant and North Dakota State.

    Hollowell's minutes have fluctuated since then, with the nadir coming with a three-game absence provoked by a self-reported "compliance issue." He returned in time for conference play, but in his first seven Big Ten games, Hollowell is averaging only seven minutes and has scored a total of 10 points, making only one field goal.

    In high school, Hollowell's offense was frequently aided by his ability on the offensive glass, and that is one facet of his game that has translated to college. His 12.7 offensive rebounding percentage is, surprisingly, the best on the Indiana team.

    Hollowell's 6'8" frame makes him capable of banging with the power forwards, and he's quick enough to guard shooting guards. He's a matchup nightmare waiting to happen if he can get out of his own way.

    Against teams that lack interior depth, Hollowell can be a glass-eater, much like he was in a four-rebound performance against Penn State. If he discovers his shooting range, he can keep star-crossed junior Maurice Creek chained to the bench and cement the prime bench scoring role for himself.

    On the other hand, if Creek catches fire first, Hollowell could make more highlight films with a towel in his hand than the ball.

    GRADE: C (He's productive in ways other than scoring, which is good because his scoring is nearly non-existent.)

PF Hanner Mosquera-Perea

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    Offseason injuries and an early-season suspension have derailed the development of the already-raw Colombian import Hanner Mosquera-Perea. At 6'8" and 225 pounds, Perea has an NBA body and tremendous athleticism that earned him the nickname "Air Colombia."

    That physical ability has been occasionally displayed, particularly in December's win over an overmatched Florida Atlantic team. Perea ripped down 10 rebounds, blocked two shots and made a pair of field goals.

    Just as often, though, Perea has been his own worst enemy with brutal mental errors. He committed three fouls in a four-minute span during the first half of IU's win over Penn State. Even in that strong FAU game, Perea committed three turnovers, including a fumble provoked by thinking ahead to performing a SportsCenter-worthy dunk.

    Since the FAU game, Perea has totaled seven points and nine rebounds in eight games.

    It will take time for Perea to acclimate to Big Ten basketball. The Hoosiers need him to learn quickly, perhaps more than any of his classmates. His leaping and shot-blocking ability provide a dimension that even Cody Zeller does not.

    GRADE: C- (He gets some slack for his rocky preseason, but he must become a useful player by March if the Hoosiers hope to ever get Zeller a rest.)

C Peter Jurkin

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    Similar to Hanner Mosquera-Perea's issues, South Sudan native Peter Jurkin struggled with an NCAA suspension and preseason injuries, primarily the broken nose that prompted the mask pictured here.

    Also like Perea, Jurkin is a marvelous athlete with strong defensive instincts that can only be honed by working against Cody Zeller in practice.

    Hopefully, they do get honed in practice, because Jurkin is certainly not seeing many game minutes, especially now that Big Ten play has started.

    The seven-footer has played all of seven minutes this season with only one missed shot to show for it. He produced four points and one rebound in an exhibition against Indiana Wesleyan, but that's been the high-water mark.

    It's unlikely that Jurkin will see any important time unless an injury occurs. Since such an injury would likely involve Cody Zeller, it would be a catastrophe to the Hoosiers' national title hopes.

    GRADE: Incomplete (Jurkin should have been redshirted immediately after the suspension was upheld, if possible.)


    For more from Scott on college basketball, check out The Back Iron, home of the exclusive Back Iron Index and Bracketometry, telling us which teams SHOULD be in the NCAA tournament come March.