Bryant will return for sophomore year

Thomas Bryant kept his word.

Not long after he committed to Indiana last spring, the McDonald’s All-American made it clear he wasn’t entering college with plans to follow the one-and-done crowd. He saw college both as an opportunity to maximize his player development options and as a time to enjoy himself.

For at least one more year, he plans to do both.

“You only get to do this once,” Bryant said at the time. “Why rush it?”

On Thursday, Bryant followed through with those plans, quashing NBA Draft discussions by announcing his intention to return to Indiana for his sophomore season. Indiana released a statement from the 6-foot-10 center confirming his decision.

“Being a part of IU basketball is special and I’m excited to continue my development as a person and as a basketball player under Coach Crean,” Bryant said in a release.”The bond I have with my teammates and coaches is strong. Our plan is to continue to work hard and build off of the many great things we did last year and add to the tradition here.”

Viewed as a potential late-first round prospect this spring, Bryant could have declared for the draft in order to participate in the NBA combine May 10-15 in Chicago, while still holding the ability to return to school next season.

He won’t even go that far, focusing instead on helping the Hoosiers defend last season’s outright Big Ten championship.

Bryant’s return means the Hoosiers are the potential favorites to enter the preseason as the Big Ten’s top team. Early polls published this week have Indiana projected to begin the 2016-17 season ranked anywhere from No. 8 to No. 21, and Bryant’s decision to stay with the program means IU is likely to enter the year positioned higher on that scale.

It also means Indiana could boast the Big Ten’s top frontcourt, with Bryant, fellow classmates Juwan Morgan, O.G. Anunoby, versatile senior Collin Hartman and 6-foot-10 signee De’Ron Davis, a four-star recruit and Mr. Basketball award winner from Colorado, all expected to be in the mix.

Bryant started all 35 games for the Hoosiers last season, playing through early-season issues with his foot. He overcame the nuisance of injury and averaged 11.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per contest. A Third Team All-Big Ten selection and member of the league’s All-Freshman team, Bryant led the Big Ten with a 68.3 shooting percentage from the field.

Bryant’s return is the first off-season domino to fall for Indiana, which is awaiting word on whether Troy Williams will declare for the draft and test the waters at next month’s combine.

This story will be updated.

10 comments

  1. Since Bryant has been at IU I have really liked his spirit, competiveness, and how he takes much pride in being an IU bb Hoosier.

  2. Great news…already excited about the prospects of the 2016 – 2017 Indiana Basketball team! Come on Troy Williams…one more year in the Crimson & Cream, a national title is certainly within reach! BTW, had Noah Vonleh stayed for another season, you gotta believe that IU would have beat Wichita State in last year’s tourney and that Vonleh would be having greater success in the NBA (can’t blame the kid, however, since he was a lottery pick. The NBA simply needs to change it’s rules – at least 2 years at the collegiate level or other professional league).

  3. Whether Troy Williams stays or goes won’t matter with Bryant returning. Williams inconsistency was so frustrating. With the addition of freshman De ‘Ron Davis, IU will be a much stronger team inside next year which was a real problem against North Carolina. After Morgan’s off season surgery to correct his shoulder problem, we will be so much tougher up front! There should not be a team that IU will face next year that will be able to dominate us inside? Bryant’s news should make us a top 5 team all year long baring injury’s to players? Go Hoosiers!

  4. I just love Thomas Bryant, as a kid, as a player, as a teammate, and now as a total “Hoosier”! His only negative is that he cares so much about playing well and winning, that he has so much passion and drive, that it can sometimes need harnessing. Think about that as your only shortcoming! Most people need that strong emotion! Thomas is destined to be in the Hoosier Pantheon of great players!

  5. T you have good points….. I would love to see Thomas develop a more consistent outside shot but more Importantly he can pass off to De’ Ron the intensity of BIG10 BB.. and challenge him and thru that challenge he will grow as a BB player faster.

  6. I have no idea the extent of Morgan’s shoulder injury, but shoulder surgeries are tricky and complex. There is no guarantee that Morgan will be fully recovered by the start of the 2016/2017 season. I hope he is, but it is not a given.

    Bryant’s return for his sophomore season is huge for IU, and a very smart decision by this young man. Good for him and good for IU fans.

  7. Podunker, I read an article I think on the Peegs website about a week or so ago that stated Morgan would have his surgery soon and would be fully recovered by next season. The school medical staff I know performed the same surgery for Brian Evans and he returned fully recovered. I would see no reason we could not expect the same results for Morgan?

  8. MikeC, that’s encouraging. He’s young, strong and will receive the best care available, I’m sure. And I hope it is a relatively simple shoulder surgery to tighten up the connective tissue and prevent the shoulder from becoming so easily dislocated. But as I said, shoulder surgeries are tricky and complex.

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