Lander, Geronimo announce they are returning to IU

Report from Indy Star’s Zach Osterman:

Mike Woodson scored two more roster victories Monday, when freshmen Khristian Lander and Jordan Geronimo each announced his intention to withdraw from the transfer portal and return to IU.

Both players were members of Archie Miller’s last enrolled recruiting class. 

Once a five-star point guard at Evansville Reitz, Lander originally reclassified from 2021 to 2020 to enroll early at Indiana. He was a true freshman last season, appearing in 26 of the Hoosiers’ 27 games. 

Lander averaged 2.1 points and 1.2 assists per game in 2020-21.

“After much thought with coach Woodson and my family,” Lander wrote in a statement posted to social media, “I feel it is in my best interest to continue my basketball and academic career with Indiana University.

“I want to be one of the reasons Indiana basketball gets back to being great again. I’m putting my trust into my team, coach Woodson and the staff he is assembling.

“Staying home! Let’s work!”

The season itself was not always smooth sailing for a player considered the top point guard in the country in his original high school class. Lander struggled early on with the physicality and defensive demands of the college game.

But he appeared to grow more comfortable at this level as the season wore on, his minutes ticking up deeper into the winter. After logging more than seven minutes just five times in the Hoosiers’ first 15 games, Lander averaged 13.8 minutes in the next 11. He did not appear in the Hoosiers’ Big Ten tournament loss to Rutgers. 

On the floor, Lander flashed prodigious potential as an on-ball creator, particularly as the season wore on. But he also struggled shooting the ball, at one point enduring a run of 16-straight 2-pointers attempted without a make. The frustrating streak saw Lander greatly improved at getting to the rim, just struggling to finish. He would finish the season 5-of-9 on 2s after that long run of misses.

Lander also shot 27.3% (12-of-44) on 3s as a freshman.

A four-star wing from New Jersey, Geronimo was a high-potential player when Indiana signed him out of St. Paul’s, a prep school in New Hampshire. 

Miller regularly described Geronimo as one of the most-talented players he’d ever recruited to his program, a statement Geronimo backed up in spurts during his freshman season. The 6-6 wing averaged 2.2 points and 1.8 rebounds per game, shooting better than 55% on 2-pointers and 4-of-10 from behind the arc. He was also among Indiana’s most-effective rebounders on a per-opportunity basis.

What was perhaps his best performance of the season came in the Hoosiers’ win at Iowa. Geronimo played 10 minutes that night, registering seven points and an assist. Of even greater importance was his work on defense, where his combination of energy, athleticism and length troubled eventual Big Ten player of the year Luka Garza, taking Garza out of the flow of the Hawkeyes’ offense and opening the door for Indiana to secure an important win in Iowa City. 

Overall last winter, Geronimo appeared in 21 of Indiana’s 27 games. 

“I believe in coach Woodson,” Geronimo said in a statement posted to social media Monday afternoon. “Let’s get to work.”

The return of both players marks yet another roster win for Woodson in his earliest days as IU’s head coach. Already, high-scoring UT Martin transfer Parker Stewart had elected to withdraw from the portal and return to IU, and first-team All-Big Ten forward Trayce Jackson-Davis announced Friday his intention to spend one more year in college. The Hoosiers have also affirmed the commitments of 2021 signee Logan Duncomb, and 2022 recruit C.J. Gunn, a standout at Lawrence North.

Now, Woodson further bolsters his options at point guard, in the backcourt and on the wing, with two of the highest-ceiling players on Indiana’s roster.

IU still has two players in the transfer portal: redshirt junior forward Race Thompson and sophomore guard Armaan Franklin.

41 comments

  1. I think both of these guys are ripe for the type of development that Woodson and Fife will bring. In particular, I think Geronimo can really grow and thrive.

  2. The reason I said what I said was that there was an earlier version of this article that came out before Geronimo announced and he was still included as one of the players in the rransfer portal. Zach updated his article right after that announcement. I was stating that Geronimo no longer should be on that list. That is all.

      1. No worries. I just wish this site had an edit or delete button. After I saw the updated article, I thought that some would look at my statement funny but there wasn’t anything I could do. I would have either removed it or edited my comment.

  3. Everything we’re learning from the players, especially TJD, was that these young men really felt hobbled playing in Archie’s offense. And as the losses mounted, their mood turned dark, doubt set in, and morale plummeted The team’s offensive performance in the last third of the season made that obvious. It’s not going to happen over night, but I can’t wait to see Woody’s impact on these great young athletes, both individually and collectively. Improving their offensive fundamentals (i.e., shooting) should give them a huge boost in confidence, produce a lot more wins and make BB fun again for these young men.

  4. Po, good point! As we learn more, it seems the players felt constrained in Miller’s offense and he certainly wasn’t going to change. Woodson still needs to bring in 2-3 athletic transfers, and you will see a much faster team. It should be more enjoyable for the players as well as the fans. Stay tuned!

  5. I’m not sure some of these guys can play faster. We ain’t built like Baylor.
    And how many comments did I read during last season concerning how slow Trayce ran the floor (especially getting back on defense)?

      1. ^^^That video could also serve as an archeological find explaining the roots of Facebook. “She’s different… because she has a different personality for each the five different records you can change” ….is my favorite part.

  6. Much of the work with Trayce’s game needed to begin six years ago in high school. He’s a dunk ballet artist. It sold tickets and looked awesome against inferior and smaller guys in h.s. That’s the time when someone should have been teaching him footwork in the paint, baseline jumpers, pump fakes, up and under moves, facing the basket to survey, patience, pivoting both directions, perimeter shot, etc, etc.
    Woodson should not be expected to be a miracle worker. Mike Woodson had all of the above skills when he arrived at college. And this brings us back to the discussion of what makes a “Mr. Basketball”….a Mr. Basketball these days? Who is evaluating the talent…and is it far more a citizenry and classroom award than a talent award? Trayce is a great talent with a high ceiling, but there are far more blemishes in his game than poor shooting which need refinement.

    Every coach is a product of the talent he inherits….and recruits. Inherited rosters all come with different levels of needed improvement and challenges. Some challenges take way more than a season or two to fix. Some will not get fixed in college.

  7. I’m encouraged & happy that we can field a competitive team in ‘21-‘22. I’ve also gone on record saying that we will win AT LEAST as much as we did this year. We’ll have to see if we are actually better and that better = more wins. Until we win 20+ games/yr., we aren’t “back”, in my mind.

    Watching the Elite 8 & beyond it is very, very clear to me that we have a LONG way to go to compete for NCAA titles again. I’m 100% sure the existing talent can’t do it, even with the best coach in the country (Drew, Few, Self, Izzo, K, etc….).

    Until we land a proven PG in the portal & a pipeline thereafter of the same we will not be “elite”. Baylor has a guard posse.

    I suspect this withdrawing from the portal trend will continue with Race & Armaan recommitting this week. It is all planned out.

  8. Agree 100%, AWinAZ….That’s all I’m saying. We do have a “long way to go to compete for NCAA titles again.”
    We almost look like a mid-major roster compared to the teams we’ve watched in the tournament the last couple weeks.
    Woodson shouldn’t be expected to be a miracle worker anymore than Archie Miller. Archie brought in three Mr. Basketballs …and the talent in those award winners just doesn’t stack up to what you see on UCLA, Baylor, Zags. Some of the best Indiana talent doesn’t win the coveted award…and many leave the state. It’s not 1976 anymore with regard to an Indiana Mr. Basketball.

    1. Yep, UCLA with second year coach Mitch Cronin. He didn’t exactly inherit a full cupboard following the forced departure of Mr. Alford. The very same UCLA who BARELY made the tournament, and won their first-four-in game in overtime. Maybe IU does begin to stack up with the Bruins, or perhaps Oregon State, who went quite a ways in the tournament. Woodson isn’t done yet, either.

      1. Show me anywhere on Hoosier Scoop where I said I wanted Steve Alford as a coach….He’s a poor man’s Tom Crean.
        I would also gladly rank (how many top 100s along with those left in the recruiting pipeline) the roster Alford left to Mitch Cronin compared to the one can of beans in the cupboard left to Archie by ‘Mr. Magnificent.’ But you keep stickin’ with your agenda…as if a “year 2” is the same at every program. LA and California is also a pretty big market for talent. Faster reload..Far less distance to find transfers and recruits during a pandemic.

  9. How refreshing it is to have a leader directing the program again. You’ve got a friend in me Woody!

    1. The right moves made initially and quickly for sure. Certainly appears to be the way Coach Woodson does business.

  10. Congratulations to the returnees to the program! So excited to see what’s next. Tbe Hall will surely be rocking this fall.

  11. IU is no different than any major sports program both, colleges/universities and professional. Another example of a sports program shopping in a candy store trying to purchase or is purchasing championship/s.
    A.M. benefited at maybe the cost of a hurt ego but should come out of it just fine as in $millions just fine and eventually with new opportunities and endeavors. It seemed quickly apparent that A.M. and his ineffective staff were in over their heads resulted in the spoils of one man’s downfall is reaped by another coach and staff.

  12. Nothing from the remaining players in the portal? Woodson is actively seeking transfers and he has to if the IU players remain silent about their intentions. RP and RT don’t fit Woodson’s player type. AF does. Hope they all stay but of those 3, AF is the one.

  13. A few random thoughts after the latest news:
    1. Woody is bound to lose at least one of the players currently in the transfer portal. If players have not re-committed by now, they’re probably determined to transfer. And while I’d hate to see that, it may not be a bad thing for IU BB. With over 1,000 players in the transfer portal, the odds are that Woody can recruit players that are upgrades relative to any player(s) who transfers out.
    2. Watching last night’s game reminded me just how special IU’s 75/76 team was in going undefeated and winning the National Championship. How great a job did Bob Knight do in assembling and coaching the 74/75 and 75/76 teams? College BB may never see the likes of that again.
    3. I think Woody and other college coaches with NBA coaching experience will benefit more from the new Transfer Portal relative to college coaches accustomed to the traditional recruiting system. Recruiting in a free agency environment must be very similar, regardless of whether it involves NBA or college players.
    4. Aside from Baylor’s 3-point shooting last night, it was the combination of their quickness and “thickness” that allowed them to dominate Gonzaga on both ends of the floor. In a game the refs allowed to be physical, Baylor just out-muscled Gonzaga all night long. It reminded me that IU needs to get much thicker and stronger if it wants to compete for Championships.
    5. Does anyone know if Woody is putting a deadline on the player’s decision regarding transfers? Is any coach allowed to place a deadline on a player who has entered the transfer portal? What the team’s obligation vs. the player’s rights? I really don’t understand the equation.

  14. If your #1 is true, then I would strongly disagree. Losing Franklin and Thompson would hurt IU Basketball immensely. They are the two most skilled and versatile players at their respective positions. Franklin is a future All-American. Race is not far behind…if he improves his shooting stroke. Both of their absence and varied levels of injuries down the stretch (Franklin -high ankle sprain, Race-broken facial bone/need in wearing a mask) were a major contributing factor to the late season woes.

    Those are two of the hardest replacement pieces on the roster. In addition to coaching change, transferring players also have to adjust to “style of play” and personalities of teammates. It’s not as smooth of a transition as one may think….and it will only improve with dozens upon dozens of practice time, minutes on the floor and in-game situations.

    It’s beyond lunacy to imply losing Race Thompson and Armaan Franklin “may not be a bad thing.”
    It’s a very bad thing ….It’s losing the 2nd and 3rd best talents on the team. It’s losing two of the more senior/experienced members of the roster. It’s losing the best athletes and most versatility on our roster. It’s losing the best shooter on our roster.

  15. And I can assure you, Izzo is going hard after Franklin. And as far as I’m concerned, I’d much rather have Franklin for another year than Dane Fife for the next 10.

  16. Among those other players in the portal (and there are a TON — like record numbers), there are a host that would be great additions. I am narrowing the long list down to players who might be fits, for various reasons. To name a few: John Harrar (mentioned above), Al Durham (mentioned above), Myreon Jones, Seth Lundy, Earl Timberlake, Qudus Wahab, Race Thompson, Armaan Franklin, Justin Powell, Taeshon Cherry, Tre Mitchell, and Aidan Igiehon..(courtesy: SB Nation/”Michigan State Men’s Basketball: the offseason beckons — transfers and roster thread” By Sam Tyler).

  17. I would think once someone ‘goes portal’ the coach can replace. Kid wants to return – coach option of yea or nay.

      1. Yes, I’d like both of them to return, but Woody’s opinion of their value may not be as high as ours. It’s all relative to what’s available through the transfer portal. What’s interesting about this new transfer portal is that it’s a two way street, especially for a new coach. And I believe that a new coach has the advantage. There’s not stigma associated with players transferring because they weren’t “his” players! “Young man, we’d like you to stay, but if you don’t want to be here, there are a lot of talented young men who do, so it won’t be difficult to fill your spot.”

        To me, attitude is a huge part of the recipe for success! So IMO, if a young man doesn’t feel fortunate that he’s playing in one of the best environments in the world, or if he doesn’t believe his new coach is outstanding, IU BB is probably better off without him. As Colin Powell use to tell his troops, “a positive attitude is a force-multiplier!”

  18. I believe the players should put themselves in the position to be successful. There is no question in my mind, that whereas Lander and Geronimo possess athleticism that could bode well in an up tempo offense, Thompson, Hunter and Phinisee do not. Franklin does not have great quickness either but he shoots the ball well. Woodson needs another point guard, and a stretch forward that can handle the ball and score. Those players would need to be transfers. The IU guys in the portal or those that are staying need to either find a school where they would get playing time or understand their minutes might be significantly reduced this coming season at IU. I think Woodson will get some some quality transfers that will round out the roster and put IU in a much better position to win.

    1. Well, maybe the underachieving, overvalued portal guys (and RP) can hook up with their boy Archie at a nice little D2 operation somewhere.

  19. I agree Hopeful, but how long will it be before he knows how many roster spots he has to fill?

  20. I sure hope Mike Woodson and his staff read all of these comments on the Hoosier Sports Report, where the arm chair coaches have far greater insights, evaluation capabilities, and knowledge than some schlunky coaches who work full time at basketball and make far more salary than most, if any, of the commentators have made on an annual basis in their illustrious careers (definitely including yours truly). None of us really knows what’s going on behind the curtain. It’s fun to speculate, but I find it amusing and at times downright disturbing how strongly opinionated and nasty contributors are, how they make ad hominem attacks on other contributors, etc. Many lose sight of the fact that the players we’re talking about are young men 18-22 years old or so. As such, they can be opinionated, obstinate, lacking maturity, readily become disillusioned, feel entitled, etc. I wonder how many of the commentators on this site were even collegiate athletes, let alone basketball players at a DI school where you play under a microscope. Not to blow my own horn, but as a former 4 year collegiate varsity athlete (back when my esteemed university in NW Washington had a varsity crew program), I saw more than my fair share of team mates make decisions that were beyond my comprehension. Playing a sport can flat out mess with an athlete’s head. The IU men’s basketball program is not going to fall off a cliff if Franklin and Thompson don’t return. Potentially big losses yes, but not the end of the world. And yes, Woodson and his team are going to take some swings on players both in-state and out of state and have misses. It’s the nature of the beast. Heck, Duke, UNC, Kansas and other illustrious programs have players leave and have their own whiffs on players. Woodson and Dolson have put together a very credible coaching staff, and already have made some great inroads in getting several Hoosiers to stay at IU after entering the portal. IMHO IU basketball is in very good, capable hands and the future is bright. GO HOOSIERS!

    1. I do know Bob Knight was the epitome of maturity. Was driving last night and while spinning through some radio stations I heard an advertisement for ‘1070 The Fan’ running on the ESPN station….It was a promo for Dakich’s show and contained a recorded snippet/quote of Dan saying “The legendary Dane Fife.” Good Lord….I simply burst out laughing. Somebody please tell me what Dane Fife has done that is “legendary”…?

      Gotta hand it to Podunker…He was right. We were all in a dreamworld to believe this sudden momentous 10 million buyout meant there was a true legend waiting in the wings. Brad Stevens threw a clown pie at us….and Dane Fife is the local legend. Love it. We hired three head coaches, Dan. We should just call them “Team Legend.” Send it up to Thad. Ask Thad.

      1. I stand corrected…The “legendary” Fife did average 5.5 ppg. for his four seasons at IU. That is momentous leap of 2 ppg over the the “legendary” 3.6 ppg of the Merrillville Bomber.

        ‘e’ is also a legendary vowel. If you add it to ‘Dan,’ you arrive at ‘Dane’.

  21. I bet that Armaan stays. Dunno about Race, but I lean yes.

    The quietness is that Mike is sitting down and these kids are making thoughtful decisions. Contrary to the spazzing out on the internet, these kids are going to want to see how they fit into the program, what Woody’s plan is for developing them and the team. Ultimately getting on board with what the plan is to start winning basketball games.

    I’m sure they also wanted to see how the assistant coaching positions were going to shake out. Fife was just named Monday, he probably needed a minute to get to Bloomington.

    I think these guys stay.

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