Local Sports News: March 27, 2024

Indiana University Men’s Basketball Sophomore Kel’el Ware Declares for the 2024 NBA Draft
Indiana sophomore Kel’el Ware will enter his name in the 2024 NBA draft. Ware made the announcement on his Instagram account. A native of North Little Rock, Arkansas, the 7-foot center averaged 15.9 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 1.5 assists for the Hoosiers during the 2023-24 season. Ware was named to the Big Ten all-defensive team and was a second-team All-Big Ten selection by the media. Ware was named to the Big Ten all-defensive team and was a second-team All-Big Ten selection by the media.

The 7-foot center, a 2022 McDonald’s All-American, transferred to Indiana last spring after a rocky first season at Oregon. As a freshman for the Ducks, Ware started just four games and averaged 6.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 15.8 minutes per game. Ware’s development at Indiana was one of the bright spots in an otherwise disappointing third season for Mike Woodson in Bloomington. His numbers improved across the board at Indiana. Looking at his efficiency numbers on KenPom.com, Ware’s effective field goal percentage improved from 49.7 as a freshman to 61.2 as a sophomore. On the defensive glass, his rebounding percentage grew from 21.9 to 26.1. He led the Big Ten in defensive rebounding percentage (28) and was fourth in block percentage (6.6).

Most early mock drafts for 2024 have Ware as a first-round pick. The deadline to declare for the 2024 NBA draft for underclassmen is midnight on Saturday, April 27. The deadline to withdraw from the draft and return to school is May 29. The NBA draft lottery will take place on Sunday, May 12 and the draft combine begins Monday, May 13 in Chicago. Indiana had two players – Jalen Hood-Schifino and Trayce Jackson-Davis – selected in the 2023 NBA draft.

Mackenize Holmes and Sara Scalia named WBCA All Regional Finalist for Coaches All-America
Indiana’s Mackenize Holmes and Sara Scalia have been named region finalist for the 2024 WBCA NCAA Division I Coaches’ All-America, announced by the organization on Wednesday. Holmes is now a three-time honoree from the committee and is a two-time All-American from the organization, placing on the First Team in 2023. Scalia appears on the list for the first time in her career. The duo will advance to All-American voting, which will be announced later this month. The duo has helped 4-seed Indiana (26-5) to its third Sweet Sixteen in four years with a 75-68 win over 5-seed Oklahoma on Monday night. It advances to the NCAA Albany Region where it faces top seeded South Carolina on Friday at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN at MVP Arena

A unanimous All-Big Ten First Team, All-Big Ten Defensive team, USWBA and Associated Press All-American selection this season, Holmes leads Indiana (and second in the Big Ten) in scoring with 20.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and shooting 65.7 percent from the floor in 31 games. She has scored in double figures in 29 of those 31 outings including 17 20-point games and two 30-point efforts along with a team-high six double-doubles. Nationally, Holmes also ranks 14th in field goals made (255) and 24th in points per game. She also leads the Hoosiers with 1.5 blocks per game (48).

Scalia, who earned All-Big Ten First Team honors in her final season of college eligibility, averages 16.4 points per game and is one of the nation’s top 3-point shooters. The Stillwater, Minn. native is shooting a 43.0 percent clip from beyond the arc this season and has made 101 made triples, setting IU’s single season record. Scalia is fourth nationally in 3-pointers made, 3-pointers per game and 12th in 3-point field goal percentage. She has scored in double figures in 29 of 31 games this season including the last 15-straight while also averaging 3.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and a +2.5 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Indiana University Men’s Swimming and Diving competes at the NCAA Championships in Indianapolis
“The fastest meet in the world” returns to Indianapolis for the first time since 2017, essentially a home meet for Big Ten Champion Indiana men’s swimming and diving. The 2024 NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships will be held at the IU Natatorium Today through Saturday in the Hoosier state capital. Final sessions will start at 6pm each evening. Preliminary heats will begin at 10am every morning beginning Thursday. Fans can buy tickets here or stream the event via the ESPN+ digital platform.

Fifteen Hoosiers qualified for the national meet – 12 swimmers and three divers. Indiana also qualified all five relays. IU finished fourth at last year’s championships with 376 points, its fourth top-five finish of the last five years. In those five years, only four team have consistently finished top six nationally: Cal, Texas, Florida and Indiana. Last year Indiana scored 104 points from diving alone, 32.5 points more than any program. That total would have finished 12th in the team standings by itself. The Hoosiers return three divers from the 2023 roster: juniors Quinn Henninger and Carson Tyler and sophomore Maxwell Weinrich.

Tyler is the defending NCAA platform champion and placed fourth on the 3-meter board a year ago. He also comes into this year’s championships as a four-time Big Ten Champion, winning his second-straight conference platform title as well as his first-career 3-meter title. The junior was the nation’s top scorer from the NCAA Zone Championships on 3-meter and platform and the No. 5 scorer on 1-meter. Henninger earned bronze on both the 3-meter board and platform as a sophomore and is a four-time All-American. Both Henninger and Tyler competed at the 2024 World Aquatics Championships in February.

Indiana also returns its swimming national champion of the last two seasons, senior Brendan Burns for his fourth and final NCAA meet – the fifth-year’s first championships in 2020 were canceled due to COVID-19. Since then, Burns became a national champion in the 200-yard butterfly (2022) and 100-yard backstroke (2023). Burns will race both again, this time taking on the 200 back as his third event for the first time at a national meet – matching his annual Big Ten program, which he swept every season from 2021-23. He’s the No. 7-seeded swimmer in the 100 back (44.62) Friday and No. 13 seed (1:39.50) in the 200 back and No. 7 seed in the 200 fly (1:40.24) on Saturday.

Senior Tomer Frankel is again a medal contender in the butterfly events Friday and Saturday as the No. 5 seed in the 100 fly (44.32) and No. 6 seed in the 200 fly (1:39.80). The 2020 Olympian was the only swimmer at last year’s meet to finish top five in both events and earned bronze in the 100-yard event with a program record 44.04. IU will look to harvest a bounty from the breaststroke events with four competitors qualified in each of the two races. Junior Finn Brooks (51.30), senior Jassen Yep (51.49), junior Josh Matheny (51.69) and Maxwell Reich (51.87) all have top-26 times in the country in the 100-yard race. Indiana is an even greater threat in the 200 breast with Yep (1:50.40), Matheny (1:51.13), Reich (1:51.89) and freshman Toby Barnett (1:51.95) all having top-15 seeds after taking the top four podium spots at the Big Ten Championships.

Indiana again qualified all five relays for the championships, and each earned a top-16 seed – within scoring territory. The Hoosiers come in as the No. 5 seed in the 400-yard medley relay (3:01.61), an event they’ve finished runner-up each of the last two seasons with the quartet of Burns, Matheny, Frankel and junior Rafael Miroslaw – all still with the team. IU also has the No. 6 time in the 200-medley relay (1:22.17) and the No. 8 time in the 800-freestyle relay (6:10.86), the two events that will open the meet tonight.

Indiana University’s Men Tennis match with Butler Rescheduled for April 10th
Indiana Men’s Tennis has rescheduled their match with Butler to Wednesday, April 10th with a 4:30 p.m. start. The match was originally scheduled for this Sunday, March 31st for a 5 p.m. start. Indiana will be home for their next matches as it faces Penn State and Ohio State on Friday and Sunday this weekend in Bloomington.

Bloomington South Graduate and Bradley University Junior Connor Hickman enters the Transfer Portal
Bloomington Native Connor Hickman helped take the Bradley Braves to a 23-12 record and two-game appearance in the NIT in 2023-24. But the starting guard left them behind on Tuesday when he entered the NCAA transfer portal, marking the end of his terrific career on the Hilltop. Hickman, who has one year of eligibility left, earned third-team All-Missouri Valley Conference honors in his final season with Bradley. He led the Braves in scoring with 14.5 points per game.

Hickman is the first Bradley player to enter the transfer portal this spring. There will likely be a strong market for Hickman, who delivered a 40.2% shooting rate from 3-point range and was perhaps the best defensive guard in the MVC. He played with grit and toughness. The Bloomington South graduate came to Bradley in 2021-22 and was named to the MVC All-Freshman Team. He made an immediate impact, appearing in all 31 games and drawing 23 starts. In 2022-23, he started all 34 games for Bradley and made his mark with a career-high 40 minutes against rival Illinois State in an overtime win at Carver Arena. In that game, Hickman connected on a 3-pointer in the final minute to force overtime, then hit another 3-pointer in the last minute of OT.

He delivered a lot of big moments like that in a BU career that saw him net 953 points, start 87 of 96 games and shoot 43.1% from the field and 37.3% from 3-point range. He got better and better as he played. His third and final season at Bradley saw him set career-highs in points with 28 (at Valparaiso on Jan. 3), 3-pointers made with 6 (March 8 vs UIC), rebounds with 8 (Feb. 8 vs SIU), assists with 6 (Nov. 25 at Vermont) and steals with 5 (Feb. 28 vs SIU).

Vincennes University Men’s Basketball’s Season ends with a loss in the NJCAA Sweet 16
The No. 4 Vincennes University Trailblazers fell in the opening game of the 2024 NJCAA Division I National Championship tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas Tuesday afternoon, falling to No. 13 Odessa College 58-56. Both teams really struggled to get their footing early on and would prove to be a preview of what would ultimately be a very tough defensive battle. The two teams traded baskets for most of the first half, with the lead changing hands five times and the score being tied an additional six times throughout the first 20 minutes of play. Vincennes would grab the lead late in the first half on a three-pointer by sophomore Kent King to put the Blazers ahead 28-27 at the break.

VU looked to grab the momentum early in the second half by building a 33-30 lead before the Wranglers answered back with a 10-0 scoring run to take a 40-33 lead. The Trailblazers would battle down the stretch, using a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to two and using a four-point possession to even the score at 56-56. VU sophomore Michael Osei-Bonsu grabbed a rebound put back and converted the and-one free throw to seven the score with 47.8 seconds remaining. Odessa was able to convert on their end of the floor on a put back dunk to put the Wranglers ahead by two with 20 seconds to play. VU got down the floor with plenty of time and was able to get a pair of good shot attempts but were unable to get a make as the buzzer sounded and ended the game with the Blazers on the wrong end of a 58-56 final score.

The Trailblazers were led offensively by an outstanding game by freshman Damarien Yates who finished with 22 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore Kris King had a big impact off the bench, ending the game with seven points and team-highs with 10 rebounds, six assists and a pair of steals. Sophomore Kent King was the second VU scorer in double figures, finishing the game with 12 points and four rebounds. Sophomore Michael Osei-Bonsu just missed out on a double-double, finishing with nine points and nine rebounds. The Trailblazers end the season with a final record of 30-4, with a 17-2 record against Region 24 opponents, capturing VU’s first District Tournament Championship since 2018.

Former Indiana University Men’s Basketball player Payton Sparks is heading back to Ball State
Ball State head basketball coach Michael Lewis has announced the transfer signing of Payton Sparks a two-time All-Mid-American Conference star for the Cardinals who transferred last season from Ball State to Indiana. “I’m very excited about adding somebody of his caliber into our basketball program,” said Lewis. “He is not only a good basketball player, but he exemplifies everything you want in a student-athlete.”

Sparks started all 62 games he played at Ball State as a freshman and sophomore during the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons. A Freshman All-America pick and the MAC Freshman of the Year in 2022, Sparks’ 418 points in his first season rank No. 3 in Ball State history for scoring by a freshman. He shot 58.8 percent from the floor while being named a second-team All-MAC honoree the following year, before transferring to play with the Hoosiers. The 6-foot-9 center produced 22 double-doubles for the Cardinals over two seasons. He averaged 13.3 points per game and was fourth in the MAC with 8.7 rebounds as a sophomore. Last year with IU, he appeared in 24 games with two starts, averaging 2.1 points and 1.8 rebounds.

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