With Indiana’s offseason roster changes behind us, we bring back our annual tradition of taking a closer look at the players expected to return to the program.
Next up is small forward Miller Kopp, who is training for his fifth year of college basketball and second with IU.
THE 2021-22 NUMBERS
After transferring to IU from Northwestern, Kopp was one of three players to start all 35 games. He averaged 6.0 points and shot 36.1 percent from 3-point range and 86.5 percent from the free throw line.
The 6-foot-7 Kopp added 2.5 rebounds, 1.1 assists and .9 turnovers in 25.1 minutes per contest.
WHAT WENT WELL
When he received a good pass Kopp was for the most part an effective three-point shooter for Indiana. While he was inconsistent, Kopp ended up with the third best percentage from long range on the team, and the second best rate of his four-year career.
During a key late season six-game stretch, Kopp made 12-of-29 (41.3 percent) threes from a road game at Minnesota through the Big Ten Tournament semifinal vs. Iowa.
Kopp had a massive game at Syracuse with 28 points on 9-of-16 shooting, and he added double-figure games against St. John’s, at Minnesota and at Purdue.
On the defensive end, Kopp didn’t magically become better laterally, but he was a player the IU staff learned to trust to be in the right spot, use proper positioning and techniques, and he was effective chasing shooters through screens.
Off the court the Houston, Texas product quickly became someone well-liked by both the players and coaches after transferring in from Northwestern.
OFFSEASON DEVELOPMENTAL NEEDS
1. Rebounding — Mike Woodson told Kopp when he arrived that he needed to become a better rebounder, and that didn’t happen. Despite being 6-foot-7, Kopp posted lower defensive rebounding rates than Rob Phinisee and Xavier Johnson, and a worse offensive rebounding rate than those two plus Tamar Bates.
Kopp’s offensive rebounding rate dropped to a career-low 1.6 percent last year. That could be in part due to IU emphasizing that he gets back on defense. But his defensive rebounding rate of 9.8 was in line with his previous two seasons and well off his 12.1 rate as a freshman. It could be a case of “it is what it is” with Kopp at this point, but IU needs more production on the glass from the three spot.
2. North of 40? — Let’s face it, Kopp has a lot of talented players trying to push him out of the starting lineup at the three spot, including Bates, Trey Galloway, Jordan Geronimo, Anthony Leal, Kaleb Banks, and CJ Gunn. The one clear way to hold them all off is to become an elite 3-point shooter in his fifth year of college basketball. Kopp’s career rate of 36 percent is good, but well over 100 players shot better than 40 percent last year on at least two attempts per game.
If Kopp can get over 40 on around five attempts per game, he’d be nearly impossible to push off the floor. He’s already had a 39.6 percent season on 5.3 attempts at Northwestern as a sophomore, so this isn’t a stretch goal. That late-season run we mentioned above was largely a by-product of the emergence of the Xavier Johnson and Trayce Jackson-Davis elite pick-and-roll duo. Attention on that pair created the space for Kopp to shoot, and he responded. Now the question is, can he sustain it over a full season?
3. Efficiency inside the arc — After making better than 41 percent from two each of the first three seasons, Kopp made just 34.9 percent (30-of-86) from 2-point range in his first season with IU. His inability to convert from two no doubt hindered Kopp from three as well, as defenses learned to stick to him on the perimeter and take their chances against his dribble drives.
Kopp was more than 10 percentage points higher (45.2 percent) from two as a junior at Northwestern, and the forgotten part of that outburst against Syracuse was that Kopp made 5-of-7 from two. He probably won’t become a big-time finisher at the rim against length, but his mid-range pull-up game has been much better in the past, and he’ll need to rediscover it next season. Becoming a greater threat inside-the-arc might also mean more trips to the free throw line, where Kopp made 86.5 percent, but only took 37 shots all season, or around one per game.
WHAT SUCCESS LOOKS LIKE IN 2022-23
We’ve laid it out — Kopp has to become Indiana’s knock-down 3-point shooter next year playing off of Johnson and Jackson-Davis. If you leave him open, you pay. And if you overplay his 3-point shot, Kopp makes you pay from the mid-range.
The defensive assignments may not be as challenging with folks like Johnny Davis, Keegan Murray, and Ron Harper, Jr. out of the Big Ten. But Indiana may have the depth this year to find the matchups that best fit Kopp’s strengths on that end.
If Kopp can bump his numbers up to eight points, three rebounds and better than 40 percent from both two and three, we’d call his fifth year in college basketball a success.
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