IU center Joey Brunk will look to play elsewhere in 2021-22

Indiana center Joey Brunk announced Tuesday he intends to play his final season of college basketball elsewhere.

Brunk, a fifth-year senior, is eligible to return for another year because of an NCAA ruling in regards to this past season and COVID-19. All winter athletes received another year of eligibility.

“I’m incredibly grateful for Indiana University,” Brunk posted to Twitter. “I have been able to get my Master’s Degree and am thankful to have been able to continue my education. I’ve decided to pursue my final year elsewhere. Thank you, Indiana.”

Brunk would not have counted toward the Hoosiers’ roster limit, because of the NCAA’s ruling. But wherever he lands, he will count toward the 13 scholarship maximum.

It wasn’t clear until now whether Brunk might return, because the Indianapolis native did not go through IU’s senior day ceremony in the Hoosiers’ last home game. At the time, Brunk wasn’t sure of his plans and wanted to discuss next season with then-IU coach Archie Miller.

Of course, Miller was fired and Mike Woodson is now IU’s coach.

Regardless of whether Brunk returned, Woodson was going to have two open scholarships for the 2021-22 season. It remains to be seen whether Brunk’s exit changes Woodson’s priorities in the transfer portal. IU does have an incoming freshman, Logan Duncomb, who can play the five.

Recently, IU lost sophomore guard Armaan Franklin to Virginia. Franklin’s departure was somewhat eased by an incoming transfer, Pittsburgh’s Xavier Johnson, but Woodson said he was still open to adding another scoring guard, as well as some help on the wing.

Without Brunk, who missed all of last season with a back injury, the Hoosiers were thin in the frontcourt. Sophomore Trayce Jackson-Davis finished third in the Big Ten in minutes per game, at 34.2, which was by far the most for a true post player. Race Thompson also saw increased minutes at the four and five spots.

Brunk was a useful player, when healthy. The grad transfer from Butler averaged 6.8 and 5.2 rebounds per contest in his lone season at IU in 2019-20, hitting 52.2 percent of his shots. He was voted a captain for the ’20-21 season, though he didn’t appear in a game. Brunk had back surgery in late December.

The Southport alum started his career at Butler in 2016, but he was granted a hardship waiver for his true freshman season, as he dealt with his father’s cancer diagnosis and eventual passing.

Brunk is the second senior to choose to depart IU. Al Durham, who went through IU’s senior day ceremony versus Michigan, is grad-transferring to play his final year at Providence.

18 comments

  1. Last pitch was bunt that rolled foul. Ump can’t seem to make up his mind on this one. Was it a swing and a miss or check swing and ball one? Call: Ball one.
    Seems like much thanks for all the things IU has done for its athletes as they leave or transfer both, guys and ladies (several don’t even give any thanks and then there is the question of sincere thanks…not just IU but everywhere).

  2. I guess Coach Woodson has sent a message to any players in the portal, I U is going to play more open basketball and Not clog the lower lane. t, the younger players and their generation is the “we are owed”, like my son tells me my values are in the past and don’t represent the present times, so much for working hard to earn your way.

  3. Not unexpected, plus so injury prone, how could he be counted on for reliability. Anyway, this probably dictates using the two open roster spots on a guard that can shoot and a forward with speed that can rebound. Thin on the front line with Jackson Davis and Duncomb as the only options. Woodson has plenty of transfers options, the question is do they want to come to Bloomington.

  4. Disappointed by this news, but not at all surprised. When so much time passes without any announcement, it usually means they’re leaving.

    I’m no expert, but Brunk does not seem to be the type of big man that Woodson wants/needs. He’s not going to run the floor for 25 minutes a game and he’s not a threat to score away from the rim. I’m sorry to see him go because he’s a great young man, but his decision really doesn’t change Woody’s opportunity to upgrade the quality of play at center. Now it’s all about working that portal.

      1. Well, they wanted everyone to stay. Or at least that’s what they said publicly. But everyone knows they did their assessment and created at least two categories; the “must haves” and the “nice to haves.” TJD was a “must have” while Brunk was a “nice to have.” Brunk is a mature and very smart young man, and I believe he was quite able to “read between the lines.”

        I like Brunk and think he gave his all to IU. Who knows, had he played last season, IU might have won three or four more games. But clearly, even at his best in Archie’s system, he was limited. And given what Woody has said about the offense he wants IU to run, Brunk was even more limited. Combine that with the obvious questions about his health (i.e., his back), and you can understand why Woody and staff might not have been passionate about keeping Brunk. It’s all relative to what Woody and staff believe is available through the portal.

  5. He’s a limited big man he brings energy but he basically has no offensive skills so i wish him luck elsewhere

  6. I feel like the biggest loss here is in the leadership he brought to the table. I note several instances throughout the year where he was the 1st and longest to be in TJD, Race & Galloway’s ears on the sidelines. I think Duncomb could’ve really benefitted from his presence.

    We also lose 5 fouls to give/game.

    I suspect the staff may have another big on the hook from the portal that can shoot. We need another player that can hit FTs and 10 – 15 ft. jump shots around the paint.

    1. Agree…Big loss from a leadership standpoint. Franklin always gave me the impression of a very mature kid as well. The loss of both these guys is quite disruptive …with respect to what they bring at their respective positions, but more importantly, what they brought in maturity and leadership qualities.
      Other than Trayce, probably the two guys I valued most on our team have departed. Of course, I’m partial to Indiana kids…and these were quality young men.

  7. Geez, don’t care who else we get but this team will miss Joey. Even when he was ‘broken’ I believe he was so important to the team – as AWinAZ noted. But good luck Joey.

    1. It will be an entirely new team, perhaps including up to five new players. The returning players will adapt to their new teammates and move forward. If that wasn’t necessary, Archie would still be IU’s coach.

      If things go well with Woody’s efforts to recruit the portal, I think we’ll be amazed at how much more athletic and effective next year’s roster will be as compared to last year’s roster.

    1. McClung would be the fastest means to take the sting out of Franklin leaving. McClung epitomizes Hoosier Basketball….He’s Hulls with athleticism.

  8. Not unlike what’s required in culling a seasonal garden, corporate takeovers and ‘mergers’. Natural part of the process. Let’s hope whoever commits out of high school or transfers, that they elevate everyone. Water does,…find its own level.

  9. I perused the 2021 NCAA BB Transfer Portal today. Based on my highly unqualified perspective and seat-of-the-pants criteria, I found 11 forwards and five centers that could be quality additions. As forwards, you have guys like Tristan Enaruna – Kansas, Musa Jallow (from Bloomington) – Ohio State, Cam’Ron Fletcher – Kentucky and Tre Mitchell – U-Mass who may be available.

    For Centers, there are five guys that seem interesting. Martice Mitchell – MN, Joe Hudson – WI, Drew Prember – TN and Aiden Igiehon – Louisville. I’m thinking the loss of Brunk may require Woody to get another center, but maybe he wants another forward and one more shooting guard?

    It should be interesting to see who he picks up.

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