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.