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2019 Indiana men’s basketball media day: What we learned from day one

Comparatively, Indiana basketball’s 2019 media day wasn’t as eventful as a year ago. That is, of course, due to the fact that there was no fire drill this time around.

Day one of Indiana basketball’s media day did offer great insight on the team though. Throughout the afternoon, all 11 scholarship players spoke to give a sense of their offseason progress and the current state of the team going into the season.

Archie Miller during the 2018-19 season. (Josh Eastern/HN)

Tuesday afternoon’s press conference officially started the 2019-2020 Hoosier basketball season with a busy slate ahead. Head coach Archie Miller will speak Wednesday for day two of the media days, the first official practice is Saturday and Hoosier Hysteria will be on Saturday, Oct. 6.

Plenty of topics were addressed Tuesday, but the following stood out.

Jerome Hunter’s health

After a season full of promise and intrigue was lost last year for redshirt freshman forward Jerome Hunter due to serious injury that required leg surgery, it looks as if Hunter is making a real recovery.

Per a press release given at the media day, “Hunter is participating in all basketball-related activities.” Hunter will be closely monitored by the medical staff for the team as well.

“I’m excited to be back with my teammates,” Hunter said. “Seeing all the hard-fought games they went through last year; I mean I was motivated to get back.”

The possibility of finally having Hunter on the court could be a tremendous lift for the Hoosiers. The 6-foot-7 wing was a four-star prospect and the No. 59 overall ranked player in the 2018 recruiting class (247Sports Composite).

“I feel like I’m versatile,” Hunter said. “I feel like I could just be anywhere on the court that he (Miller) wants me to be, so I feel like that could help the team a lot.”

Team chemistry

A consistent theme throughout the day and something mentioned by multiple players was the strong chemistry this team has already formed.

When asked about the possibility about this year’s squad being more successful than a season ago, sophomore point guard Rob Phinisee pointed to improved chemistry being a primary factor to that possible success.

“I’m not saying it was bad last year,” Phinisee said, “but I mean I feel like we’re together this year.”

More chemistry and cohesion are to be expected after practically having a brand-new roster in the 2018-2019 season. Last year’s group included six newcomers, five freshman and one graduate transfer, along with nine of the 13 scholarship players being underclassmen.

This year, there is a larger contingent of returning players who have lots of experience both on the court and playing together with only three new scholarship players.

“I think we built the chemistry well at an early stage,” senior guard Devonte Green said. “We’ve got a lot of good players like we did last year. It’ll be a sight to see when it all comes into play.”

Joey Brunk’s leadership

Despite being a new member of the team, redshirt junior center and Butler transfer Joey Brunk looks to be a key player for the Hoosiers.

Brunk’s combination of height at 6-foot-11 and skill around the basket gives Indiana another legitimate option in the post, something the Hoosiers severely lacked a season ago.

“It’s been a great transition here,” Brunk said. “During my time at Butler, I had a great three years. It’s kind of a new chapter here at Indiana for the next two years.”

Last year at Butler, Brunk experienced somewhat of a breakout. The center was an occasional starter and averaged 7.6 points per game, 3.6 rebounds per game and shot just under 62 percent from the field.

It was expected of Brunk to make an impact on the court for Indiana, but it seems as if he has already developed a leadership role on the team along with his talent.

“I’m comfortable with who I am, and I don’t have any problem talking and speaking up on anything,” Brunk said.

Teammate and senior big man De’Ron Davis spoke highly of Brunk’s leadership too.

“Joey, he’s a leader on and off the floor,” Davis said. “He brings a lot of energy, he’s a loud voice for us.”

New walk-on

In addition to the Hunter news, it was also announced that Indiana has added a new, third walk-on to the roster.

Jacquez Henderson, a 6-foot guard from Winter Park, Florida is the newest member of the Hoosiers. Henderson was a 2016 high school graduate and attended school at both Louisville and Butler before coming to Indiana.

Along with Henderson, Indiana will have two other walk-ons on the roster. All of them are new to the program this year. Joining Henderson will be freshman forward Nathan Childress and Cooper Bybee, a junior guard transfer of Olney Central College.

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