IU lands Saint Mary’s grad transfer Fitzner

Before his college career ends, Evan Fitzner wants one more trip to the NCAA Tournament.

At Indiana, he sees a program on its way there.

So Fitzner, a 6-foot-10 graduate transfer from St. Mary’s, committed to IU on Thursday with hopes becoming one of the pieces that ends the Hoosiers’ two-year NCAA Tournament drought, while filling a needed role on the offensive end.

Fitzner, a former two-year starter for the Gaels, has one year of eligibility remaining and is able to play for Indiana next season.

“I wanted to go somewhere where I think there is a good chance to win a championship and get back to the NCAA Tournament,” Fitzner told The Herald-Times, “a spot where I can go and make an immediate impact with my role on the team, with leadership and all that kind of stuff.”

Fitzner, who will take IU’s last remaining scholarship for next season, should occupy a much-needed shooting role for second-year coach Archie Miller.

He was able to stretch the floor at St. Mary’s, where he was a 41.5 percent career shooter from 3-point range. He made 40 percent of his long-range shots last season as a redshirt junior, 43 percent of his deep attempts as a sophomore and 41 percent of his shots as a freshman.

Miller and his coaching staff broke down Fitzner’s anticipated role during a visit to Bloomington earlier this week.

“One of the things they talked to me a little bit about was the lack of shooting this last year,” Fitzner said. “I think I can fill a role in that regard and help with floor spacing. They just said they needed someone who can shoot it.”

Fitzner is the second player Miller has added this week, following the ballyhooed announcement of five-star shooting guard Romeo Langford on Monday.

“With the commitment from Langford, that helped with my decision a little bit, just knowing he was coming in,” Fitzner said. “Then, obviously, Juwan Morgan, who had a great year last year. There’s a lot of talent on the roster. The coaching staff was another big part of it. Coach Miller is definitely really passionate and (assistant coach Ed) Schilling is really good with player development and everything. There’s a really good weight/strength program, so there’s a lot of things that factor into me believing that there’s a good chance for the team to do well this next year.”

Fitzner, who saw a run of 75 consecutive starts end in early December, averaged 5.0 points and 2.8 rebounds per game last season at St. Mary’s, starting seven of the 36 contests in which he appeared.

After deciding to pursue his final year of eligibility elsewhere, Fitzner received interest from IU, Rutgers, Utah and UC-Santa Barbara. He narrowed that list to Indiana and Santa Barbara, visiting both campuses, before deciding that a year in Bloomington would serve him well.

“One of the big things was just trying to see if I can trust this coaching staff, see if I liked them and got along with everyone,” Fitzner said. “Then, I was just trying to get a vision for my role on the team.”

Fitzner ranked as one of the most efficient rebounders in West Coast Conference games last season, according to KenPom.com. Fitzner’s defensive rebounding percentage of 19.2 ranked 13th in the league, while his offensive rebounding percentage of 5.9 ranked 20th in the conference.

Even so, Fitzner wants to work with IU strength and conditioning coach Clif Marshall to become even better on the boards.

“Getting with Coach Clif is going to bring a big bonus to my game,” he said.

With Fitzner’s commitment, all 13 of Indiana’s scholarships for next season are now accounted for. Morgan, meanwhile, has until May 30 to officially remove his name from consideration for the 2018 NBA Draft and retain his eligibility for next year. Morgan and Fitzner would be the Hoosiers’ lone seniors on the 2018-19 roster.

Fitzner joins a frontcourt that also includes junior De’Ron Davis, who is recovering from an Achilles injury suffered in January. IU can also count sophomore Justin Smith, sophomore Clifton Moore, redshirt freshman Race Thompson and incoming freshman Jake Forrester among its options.

“I’m just excited to get out there, compete and try to get a spot on the team.” Fitzner said.

30 comments

  1. Tell me I didn’t nail that one….

    Harvard for Hillbillies says:
    May 1, 2018 at 6:47 pm

    The 6-10 grad transfer from St. Mary’s is intriguing ….He supposedly shoots around 40% from the 3-pt. line. Kinda bet he’ll be a Hoosier this fall….We need the extra outside shooting and the 6-10 frame stretches the defense.

  2. You don’t consider Justin Smith to be part of our frontcourt…?

  3. The steakhouse is starting to become pretty good for recruiting. Romeo commits while Archie’s there recruiting Fitzner.

    Not sure if I would call JS a frontcourt player or not, becoming a very versatile player. Frontcourt definition may not cover enough ground for his game.

    1. And maybe some kudos for nailing the fact that Fitzner was going to be a Hoosier this fall….? You avoided the opportunity to flatter my 100% accuracy on the prediction.

  4. Now wait a minute….? The other day we were going on what guys are officially listed as on their roster position. You can’t have it both ways.
    Justin Smith is listed as a forward. He’s certainly never going to be listed as a guard.
    Romeo is listed as a shooting guard….
    But didn’t we just sort of add a shooting guard in Fitzner? Yes, we did. But, officially, he’s a frontcourt player(filling a backcourt need).
    He shoots over 40% from the perimeter.

    1. H4H,

      In that case what would you have called Magic Johnson? Point Guard, Shooting Guard, Forward, Wing, or Center? He played virtually every position at a very high level at one point or another in his career.

      1. You could call Magic a one in a million….but he’s still going to be generally referred to as a backcourt player. He had the ball in his hands and ran the show far more frequently than a frontcourt player. Justin Smith is part of the front court. He’s versatile, but I doubt we’ll see him driving and kicking the ball to Romeo setting up for a jumper.

  5. You’re arguing my point. Smith is listed as a frontcourt player. A forward is part of the frontcourt regardless of his versatility(as was Christian Watford).

    Romeo is still listed as a “shooting” guard…though the act of being a pure shooter may not be the best definition of his array of talents.

  6. It was an oversight by Miller. I’m cool with it. Put Justin Smith down as a power guard. Hell, list him as RightGuard power stick antiperspirant …I rarely see him sweat.

    1. Harv,
      I don’t think your point is unfounded, but at this point I think we see Smith as more of a wing 3-man next year. I guess that might technically qualify as frontcourt being a forward but the point being that he shouldn’t have to play the 4 nearly so much as last season.

      1. I hate the “wing” term…It’s appropriate for Larry Bird. Wing this…stretch that….Are we talking basketball rosters or Gumby? I have yet to hear the phrase “wing span” uttered by Archie. We continue to dissect every physical attribute while rarely placing enough emphasis on grit, court vision, b-ball IQ, stroke, defensive ability. We can’t make a basketball Baryshnikov simply because you have wings and Frankenstein parts in crate.

        So can we just keep in forwards, guards, and center? If you have wings, then fly without coming down for a few hours.
        Frontcourt, backcourt, middle of court. Make your decision…Justin Smith is not part of a backcourt roster.

  7. I find all this immediate uptick in recruiting the state of Indiana and the filling of positional/shooting needs as a total product of just how good of shape Tom Crean left the program. Send him another 3 million and a soggy box of Krispy Kreme’s ….for good measure.

  8. Just noticed the photo. They guy behind him doesn’t look like he is headed for a happy landing!

  9. Seems like a good get, especially given his 3-point shooting prowess. But I wonder if Archie knows something about Morgan the rest of us don’t? Does not seem like this guy would be the appropriate replacement for Morgan, but maybe I’m missing something. With Morgan on the court, Fitzner will be a serious threat to opposing teams. Without Morgan, he’s likely to find it tough sledding against the bigs within the Big Ten.

    Fun stuff!

    1. Po,
      I think if JM were to leave this year it would be a huge mistake. If he is able to take the feedback from the NBA water testing and implement it in his game, his stock potential rises greatly. Right now I don’t see him being drafted, G league at best, more likely overseas. Romeo presents JM with a huge opportunity to showcase how well he can play without having to be the sole offensive weapon. If the NBA values anything it is how well the chemistry can work among elite players. NBA had been doing it all along but it really came to the forefront with Phil Jackson’s offensive schemes to pull pressure off of Jordan with Pippen.

      JM is not a Jordan level talent, but if he can play a Scotty Pippen like role for Romeo, he becomes much more valuable especially if he can defend like Pippen. If so, he ceases to be a role player but a viable go to alternative to keep the defenses from collapsing on another teammate. The more viable go to offensive alternatives you have on the floor, the more difficult to defend the team. Adding the Fitzner outside shooting big dimension further enhances the situation. For JM the real question is to you want to toil away in relative anonymity overseas this coming year, or do you want to showcase your increasing capabilities as a key component of a possible deep run into the tournament?

      1. Juwan has done all the right things and made all the right decisions so far. There’s no reason to think to think that will change.

        1. I hope your right Chet. ESPN was showing a multitude of NBA hopefuls either having hired an agent or testing the waters. For whatever their opinion is worth, on the two top 100 prospect lists, agent hired or testing, JM didn’t appear in either. There are only 60 spots in two rounds, prospects for JM aren’t very good this year. Hope we don’t have another Jay Edwards scenario.

  10. If Morgan leaves, we have an open roster spot.
    With Romeo now in candy stripes, it’s possible to get a big to decommit. Remember Terrence Jones…? I believe it wasn’t until late May when Terrence flipped to UK. We have a star player. If a spot opens up because Morgan takes a huge risk at landing with an NBA team, I’m confident we can find a very high quality player late in the game.
    Romeo changes everything in a heartbeat. As a matter of fact, if Crean was the coach, he’d likely be searching the waters now while being ready to give someone disposable a boot. I don’t see Archie playing such a lousy tactic(as Crean did with Roth and Remy), but it’s a dirty business…even at the college level.

    Fun stuff, indeed.

  11. thinkaboutit, I agree with everything you said above. But as a recent example that what we perceive is often much different than what these young athletes are lead to believe, Cobbs left a year early because he was convinced he was going to be drafted. Now he’s a “free agent” signee with little chance of making an NFL roster. Young men don’t often make the best decisions, and I worry that Morgan could be victimized by the same bad advice about his chances of making an NBA roster. And with basketball, relative to football, Morgan’s got more opportunity to make money playing as a pro because of the international leagues. Morgan seems like a very smart young man that will make the right decision. But as fans, we never know what pressures these young men are under and how those pressures influence their decision-making.

  12. A lot of Crean’s recruits have a certain “man about town” sort of trait. I don’t think there is nearly as much in Morgan’s DNA as many from the past. But getting a kid like Romeo certainly changes the dynamics.

    I honestly believe Morgan will be back. This is a true rare opportunity for a banner. The Movement stuff was empty hype. This is a true shot because we have offensive firepower along with a defensive mindset. Morgan isn’t even on a second round mock draft list. He could really get some exposure on a team going deep into March…..He could be even more unleashed to excel with the attention Romeo will garner. To me, it would be crazy to pass up Hoosier season that will see Assembly rockin’ like something not seen for decades.

  13. If you read the fine print you would know that Simmie Cobbs will be paid the NFL minimum of $480,000 annually, IF, and only if, he can make a roster! Not a bad “risk/reward” choice. Bust your tail and make a roster Simmie!

  14. BP, I hope Simmie does make an NFL team and has a long career. But the stats suggest that while undrafted free agents do sometimes make it onto an NFL roster, the vast majority just don’t. The question I have is whether Simmie would have had a better chance of getting drafted with another year of college ball? Of course, we’ll never know. And if Simmie does not make an NFL roster, will he return to get his degree?

  15. Wow you people still find ways to mention tom crean why?move on man jesus everytime somethin happens you have to mention a past coach what about mike davis might as well make that comparison too so petty

    1. Mike Davis took a team to a Final Four…I’ll gladly compare his much higher March Madness results to a coach who couldn’t get past losing at a Sweet 16. Mike Davis’s teams also attempted to play some defense.

  16. brown bomber, with a few exceptions, it’s mostly one person who finds ways to insert Tom Crean into these threads. Since I don’t read that person’s comments, I assume that by your comment, he is at it again. For as interesting as Tom Crean is to the vast majority of IU fans these days, he might as well be commenting on Andrew Jackson’s responsibility for the “Trail of Tears” back in the early 19th century.

  17. I will admit….Podunker is very strong-willed to what he chooses to ignore.

    Exhibit A would be how he could ignore the absence of competence from the basketball program he professes to care for nearly a decade. He ignored the crappy coaching while protecting it to remain. And that protection had to do with wanting to be right when all eyes could see just how wrong our basketball was becoming.
    There is nothing more sabotaging in purpose. The only reason one could imagine “ignoring” for such a purpose would because someone was very scorned by IU….They prefer us as a museum piece stuck in hiring practices involving backroom/committee room politics protecting backwoods ideologies. Make simpletons into gods for chasing 19 F’s out of town…rather than vote for men of confidence and competence who could truly bring our basketball program back.
    Even the drying up of recruiting Indiana kids from our basketball rich state was worth “ignoring” to protect the ideologies…and the cronyism.
    How dare they act as if they are members of any Indiana fan base. No honest and true fan ignores what was happening to our basketball program over the last six seasons…The hand was finally forced because of the fans. It had nothing to do with Fred or the pious dimwits who would have ignored the horrific coaching for another decade had the fans not started their “movement” to finally say enough is enough. The gall to act as if they stand at podiums and represent the “fan base” of our storied and humble history in basketball?
    Thank god for those who don’t ignore incompetence….And thank god for each and every Hoosier fan who put the health of a basketball program on life support over empty tweets, narcissism, and holier-than-thou ideologies costing the FANS 30 million in stage construction fees. They silenced the empty loud drums of a circus act that came to town. Now the drum is a genuine beat of a basketball mind teaching a game again. Finally, we rid the place of bogus blowhards who held it hostage as they put the “ignore” into their own ignorance…..Finally, the hard resistance in a truth moved the walls of ignorance out of the place; restoring the religion of a sound game soundly taught back to McCracken’s hallowed maple surface.

Comments are closed.