A portion of Tom Crean’s off-season was spent in front of a television set, clicking through film of his most recent signee.
It was an instructive experience for the Indiana coach, who focused on those highlights of junior college transfer Freddie McSwain and found something new and useful each time.
“We’ve been able to dive into some early film, and to even more of his most recent film, and I think you can see the upside,” Crean said this summer.
Indiana is still getting to know McSwain, a raw but athletic wing prospect that first arrived on the recruiting radar in March and committed a month later. The Hoosiers have a much deeper familiarity with freshman forward De’Ron Davis, who began building his relationship with IU’s staff after his eighth-grade year.
But both players are in a similar spot, having only been on campus for the last month. With the start of preseason camp looming at the end of the month, the objective now is getting both acclimated to life at Indiana.
“Obviously, the conditioning and the pace of things, it takes a little while for them to catch up,” IU assistant Tim Buckley said. “But I think they’ve done a really good job of that. Then, as they do get into that playing-type shape and the pace that we go at, I think then their skill level will continue to develop and grow.”
The arrivals of McSwain and Davis were delayed while both players tended to academic obligations this summer. McSwain finally made it to Bloomington on Aug. 14, while Davis followed a week later.
Since then, the Hoosiers have put both players under the microscope. Although they were unable to join incoming scholarship freshmen Devonte Green, Curtis Jones and Grant Gelon, along with the rest of IU’s returners, for the program’s summer strength and conditioning program, both McSwain and Davis have already begun introducing themselves on the court.
“They’ve been doing good,” junior guard James Blackmon Jr. said. “They’re listening to what the coaches ask. They’re great players, scorers, facilitators so they’ll fit in well, too.”
McSwain has only a handful of years’ worth of organized basketball experience, but Crean became enamored with his athleticism and upside during the spring. Across the ensuing months, Crean’s film review of McSwain provided glimpses of a player who could develop into a matchup problem with proper training.
Crean has likened McSwain to a tight end with his 6-foot-6, 215-pound frame. He also recognizes McSwain’s need to improve the consistency of his jump shot and ability to handle himself in pick-and-roll situations.
“But when it comes to moving the ball, being a facilitator, being a teammate, being somebody that can defend, get to the basket, rebound the ball, I think all that stuff is there,” Crean said.
From Buckley’s view, he appreciates McSwain’s thirst for improvement. During the last month, Buckley says, McSwain has admitted that some instructions and concepts are new to him.
But he continues to show that he is eager to understand them.
Davis, a four-star prospect from Colorado, signed with Indiana in November and will add size and rim protection to the IU frontcourt. The 6-foot-10, 240-pound freshman is Colorado’s all-time leader in blocked shots (4.1 per game) and will bring that skill set to Indiana’s frontcourt rotation this winter.
“I think they’re both competitive,” Buckley said. “I think they’re both very hard workers. They’re very receptive to instruction. De’Ron will ask questions or he’ll listen. Freddie will say to you that, ‘This is new. To me, this is different, but I want to learn. Show me how to do it.’ I think that’s important right there.”