Thursday night was the Indy Pro Am Summer League Championship Game, pitting the Blue Team (featuring Leroy Nobles and Alex Young) vs. the Black Team (featuring Stephen Thomas, Mitch Patton, Christian Siakam, and former Jaguar Robert Glenn). The Blue Team ended up winning by three points after a long, hard fought game, but the score wasn't I was paying the most attention to. So here's a run down of the progress I saw, as well as a look at a couple of the the new players that will be joining the Jaguars campaign next year.
Last year, Young was one of the best players in the Summit League, averaging over 19 points per contest and earning All-Summit League honors. This year, you should expect much of the same. He's still taking shots from deeper than he should, but it seems he's seeing the floor better than last year. He was able to find that extra half step to take a better shot. I think he could lead the nation in scoring this year if he makes sure to avoid those 30-foot shots.
Christian was able to muster a double-double last year off of the bench, something no other Jaguar sub could accomplish. However he showed some big signs of improvement when I watched him Thursday. Despite still needing a lot of work to become a full-time starter, his ability to muscle away rebounds and kick them out to the perimeter threats will be a huge asset. The 5-spot isn't necessarily filled yet (it will be an open contest until the first game, most likely), and Siakam is definitely smart enough to make the necessary adjustments to see some good minutes.
While managing double digit scoring last year, Leroy needs to step up huge this year - and he knows he can. There are definitely some things to work on, especially his mid-range shot, Nobles is one of the best catch-and-shoot perimeter players I've ever watched. To be effective this year, however, he'll need to be smarter in his passing, especially to the bigs inside. Don't be surprised to hear "Leroy Nobles, FOR THREE!" a lot this year.
IUPUI is in desperate need to fill the void left by star Robert Glenn...and Mitch Patton wants to be that man. Before the game started, Rob and Mitch were doing footwork drills, something this Red Zoner loved to see. He's not as athletic as Rob was, but definitely a bigger presence inside (by about 50lbs). Patton can get up and down the floor for his size, but with the other four projected starters (Thomas, Ashworth, Nobles, and Young) being ridiculously fast, he's going to need to continue progressing. He has the right attitude though, which is going to be a huge leg up in competing for playing time with Siakam and Donovan Gibbs.
Stephen could be the biggest Division-1 transfer (via Dayton) IUPUI has ever added. Apparently upset about where he was being played for the Flyers, Thomas comes to the Jaguars the apparent obvious choice for the point guard spot. He can drive the lane and twist his body around for an easy layup, fake a drive and hit a mid -range jumper, shoot from the perimeter, and distribute well from any of those three spots. My only worry is his decision ball handling inside, he seemed to be easily stripped of the ball while trying to drive.
All in all, I liked what I saw. I wish I could've seen Donovan Gibbs play, but that's okay. This year is going to be a very very good year for IUPUI Basketball!