You don't bring in junior college players to play mop up minutes and that's not what Freddie McSwain Jr. saw this year despite seeing less than 10 minutes a game this season. The Georgia native was on the court often at critical times in big games.
While he struggled at times with his opportunities, McSwain seemed to get more comfortable the latter part of the season, a good sign for an Indiana team that may be light in frontcourt numbers and experience in 2017-18.
When evaluating McSwain, it's important to keep in mind that he did not play high school basketball until his junior season at Liberty County High in Georgia (near Savannah). That fact kept him off the radar of Division One schools and helped send him off to junior college for two years.
McSwain chose Neosho County C.C. in Kansas and made a significant jump in minutes and production from year one to year two. Could that foretell a big year two jump at Indiana?
Here's a look at McSwain's full season stats for this year and his two years at Neosho County.
Lack of a handling ability with the basketball helps explain his low assist to turnover numbers.
Note that he took only three 3-point attempts during the season, all in non-conference action.
Best game(s): McSwain played well in both games Indiana had against Big Ten champion Purdue. In the first contest at Assembly Hall, McSwain had five points (2-for-2 FG) and five boards in just nine minutes. In the return match-up at Mackey Arena, he tied his Indiana career high of eight points, going 2-for-2 from the floor and 4-for-4 from the line in 13 minutes. He also grabbed four rebounds.
Best attributes: Explosiveness off the floor is the obvious answer here as he was probably Indiana's best pure athlete (outside of skills) after OG Anunoby went down for the season. It's not that he can get up -- it's that he has great strength. That helps him guard bigger players or get away with being a four who is generously listed at 6-foot-6 (and 215 pounds).
McSwain also has a real nose for the ball. His rate of grabbing a rebound every 3.26 minutes was the best on the team among those who saw significant time this season.
Biggest areas of needed improvement: Ball handling, first and foremost. Just being able to bounce it a couple times for a strong drive to the basket or to escape some pressure would help him and Indiana immensely. Shooting it well enough to knock down a 8-12 foot quick jumper would go a long way as well.
Better basketball sense would be another desired improvement. He needs to know he's a rebounder and defender and aggressive drives at critical points in the game is something that hurt his team in a few games. To McSwain's credit, he got better with this kind of decision making as the season wore on.
Numbers worth knowing: In the final 11 games of the season, McSwain increased his shooting from the field to 59.3 percent and from the line he was 75.0 percent. After committing seven turnovers combined in road games at Minnesota and Iowa in mid-February, he calmed down to turn it over just once the final six games.
Notable quote: His immediate thoughts after loss to Wisconsin at Big Ten tourney: "I was just learning with a new team, with me coming (here) from juco. It was all new."
Comments:Given how he was playing better the last part of the year, it was probably not a big surprise that McSwain saw a season high 19 minutes in the final game of the year at Georgia Tech. That night he played 19 minutes, scoring four points with three boards. It was also his fourth straight game without a turnover.
Even if he's not able to make enough improvement in his dribbling and shooting to take on a bigger role as a senior, McSwain showed late that he found his comfort zone with his team and where he could help on the boards and defensively. No reason not to expect him to have a rotation job again, maybe seeing about 5-6 minutes per half, backing up De'Ron Davis, Juwan Morgan and Collin Hartman. If he continues to rebound well on the weak side and be smarter with the ball like he was the final half dozen games, he should thrive with that kind of opportunity.
After Big Ten tourney ending loss to Wisconsin:
Preseason Interview at IU media day: