Tom Crean Sees Watford in Max Hoetzel

Incoming freshman forward Max Hoetzel reminds Indiana coach Tom Crean of former Hoosier Christian Watford.

When Christian Watford graduated and left Indiana two seasons ago, he created a hole in the offense as the top trail player on the team, something that plagued the Hoosiers all of last season.

Head coach Tom Crean addressed the issue in his summer update press conference on Tuesday afternoon at Assembly Hall.

A player that Crean believes has the capability to fill that role is incoming freshman Max Hoetzel. The 6-foot-7 forward out of Calabasas, Calif. is an excellent shooter for his size, and Crean sees Hoetzel as a threat from outside and a capable floor runner and trailer in fast break situations.

“We need him to be a shot maker,” Crean said. “Big key now is getting him to be able to get the ball out of bounds and run the break and trail. We lost the best runner in college basketball in Cody Zeller the year before. We lost what I felt was the best trail player in Christian Watford. Never got either one of those where they need to be.”

Finding a capable trail position could be important to having success for the Hoosiers this season, as it was something they weren’t able to get covered last season.

“We need that,” Crean said. “We never had anybody, even though we tried, we never had anybody that could grab that role and that we could really count on, and Max has got a tremendous opportunity at that.”

Although Hoetzel has the shooting ability, Crean said that adding strength and becoming a more physical player are important aspects of his game he must improve on at the moment. If Hoetzel has the ability to get stronger and tack on more weight, then he will be able to become more confident in his game.

“Strength is a big thing for him right now,” Crean said. “He’s not coming in with the base that some of the others are, the physicality that he needs to have. His confidence will grow from his strength. His confidence will grow from simple basketball as he continues to do that.”

Hoetzel could provide much needed shooting off the bench for this team. The fact that Crean has already compared the freshman to Watford is exciting for Hoosier fans, but in order to get there he must get bigger, stronger and more confident.


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