Hoetzel, Johnson take shot at Derby Festival Classic

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Indiana recruits Robert Johnson and Max Hoetzel saw their Green team outclassed from the start en route to a 128-104 loss to the White team in the 2014 Kentucky Derby Festival Basketball Classic at Freedom Hall.

What was more important was seeing what the pair of future Hoosiers could do that last year’s couldn’t and what position they might be able to play upon arrival in Bloomington.

The answer to the first was, as expected, shooting.

Hoetzel, a 6-foot-7 forward, lived up to his top seed in the 3-point contest at halftime, scoring 20 points to outpace runner-up Johnson’s 15 points.

“That’s what I do,” Hoetzel said. “Anytime there’s a 3-point contest, I expect to win it.”

He backed that up during the game with an efficient outing on the way to 10 points. Hoetzel was a perfect 3-of-3 from the field, including 2-of-2 on 3-pointers, and 2-of-4 at the free throw line to go with three rebounds.

The best stretch he might have saved for last, pump faking and driving baseline for a pretty reverse layup, followed moments later by a face up 3 from the right wing just before being subbed out for the final time midway through the fourth quarter.

As to the second issue, much of the night Hoetzel saw time at power forward, a position he might be thrust into at IU given the current dearth of big men on the roster — Friday night’s commitment from 7-footer Jeremiah April not withstanding.

“I played the 4 a little bit throughout high school, so I”m very comfortable,” Hoetzel said. “I like trailing the plays, getting some open 3s, all that. I’m pretty comfortable. Probably guarding 4s is a little more difficult, more of an issue.”

On Friday, Johnson primarily played the point guard role for the Green squad, though he did switch to shooting guard to start the second half. That change resulted in his coming off a screen on the first possession and draining a contested 3 to follow up on the 3-point contest showing, flashing a great deal more potential than his line in the box score would indicate.

“I think that’s the reason why everybody in our class committed, because they need shooting,” he said.

The 6-3 guard scored 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting, including 2-of-6 from 3. He also added five rebounds, two assists and two turnovers.

If you think of Johnson as being a 1 1/2 on the Hoosier roster, you may not be far off.

“I feel like Yogi (Ferrell) is strictly a point guard,” Johnson said. “James (Blackmon) is like a 2. I think I can play a little of both, and James can too.

“It’ll be easy playing with those guys. Everybody can handle the ball, everybody can shoot it.”