New-look IUPUI looks likely to struggle in Crenshaw’s first season
It’s been a wild past couple of seasons in Indianapolis but out steps two-year interim head coach Byron Rimm, and in comes long time Jaguar associate head coach Matt Crenshaw. Crenshaw did not only play four seasons for IUPUI, but he is the school’s all-time leader in assists, as well as an assistant at the school for 12 seasons.
He comes back to Indianapolis with a completely new roster from the last time he was in town (2018), returning only 35.7% of its scoring, and losing the three-headed monster of Marcus Burk, Jaylen Minnett, and Elyjah Goss. One of Burk, Minnett or Goss led the team in scoring in all but one game last season, and led the team in rebounds in every contest.
But, this is exactly what the transfer portal is here for, and Crenshaw is using it. He brings in 3 of those, a lot of which are expected to run featured roles on the squad. Along with that, Crenshaw has strong Indianapolis connections and brought two local kids in late.
BJ Maxwell – Last season at St.Edwards, the 6-foot-5 Maxwell averaged 18.6 points, and 5.3 rebounds per game while shooting an immaculate 47.5% from the field. He has prior D-1 history, starting 21 games at Abilene Christian, averaging 9.2 points and 4.7 rebounds while shooting 49.1% his Junior season. Maxwell also had prior history in the Horizon League, starting two games at Detroit Mercy in 2019 before suffering a season-ending injury.
Zach Gunn – The Fishers, Indiana native followed Coach Crenshaw from Ball State as a graduate transfer. The 6-fot-6 wing made three starts last season. Gunn averaged 3.4 points and 2.2 rebounds, picking up significant stats when he played significant time.
KJ Pruitt – Pruitt joins IUPUI as a highly-touted wing who could have the opportunity to contribute right away. The 6-foot-3 guard was considered a 3-star recruit by multiple publications. He chose IUPUI over the likes of Ohio State, Oklahoma State, TCU, and Texas Tech.
Chuks Isitua – The 6-11 center comes to IUPUI as a 3-star recruit from Jack Yates High School in Houston, TX. He was the 18th ranked recruit (and fourth ranked center) in the state of Texas according to 247 Sports. He chose the Jaguars over the likes of Houston, Depaul, and Colorado State.
Boston Stanton – Stanton was one of Colorado’s best high school players out of Denver East High School. He averaged 21 points per game during his junior season while shooting 49% from the field. Stanton always seemed to find an open spot in the offense. Stanton played just five games as a senior due to injuries, and could be an under-the-radar addition for the Jaguars.
G – Mike DePersia – As one of two players to start every game for IUPUI last season, DePersia should be a shoo-in for the starting lineup this year. Expect Crenshaw to look for him to be a floor general on a young Jaguars team. The 5-foot-11 point guard averaged 5.0 points, 3.9 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game last year.
G – Nathan McClure – After transferring in from State Fair Community College last year, McClure earned a starting spot as the season went on and started IUPUI’s final 13 games. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 4.4 points and 2.9 rebounds per game last year.
G – KJ Pruitt – Pruitt is a quick-trigger shooter who can score from all around; averaging 14.5 points per game, 6 rebounds, and 4.5 assists in his final high school season in Texas while playing with an injured shoulder. Returning guards Bakari LaStrap, Bobby Harvey and Azariah (AZ) Seay could also compete for this spot.
F – B.J. Maxwell – Maxwell was a solid starter for a 27-win NCAA Tournament participant in his time at Abilene Christian. He was on his way to starting at Detroit Mercy before his injury, and clearly bounced back last year at St. Edwards. Given IUPUI’s lack of experience, a player that has already been a quality contributor on a successful Division I team should give him an excellent chance to be a starter.
C – Chuks Isitua – Isitua was a member of the best offensive team in Texas high school history, which scored over 100 points in 17 straight games during his junior season. He’s a raw talent from Lagos, Nigeria who didn’t start playing basketball until he was 13 years old.
In one of the deepest seasons in Horizon League history, it seems like IUPUI will be rebuilding. They could pull off a couple of pesky wins, but they are not one of the few favorites in the league. Matt Crenshaw has a number of new options in his first season, but that also means much of his roster hasn’t played together and generally lacks Division I experience.
Miss anything from Preview Week? Check it all out below:
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UIC • Robert Morris • Green Bay • IUPUI
Green Bay (WBB) • Cleveland State (WBB)