What To Make Of Indiana's Returning Roster: Kym Royster

Sam Beishuizen, Staff Writer
The Hoosier
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TheHoosier.com

Indiana women's basketball fans are in for a new-look roster when Teri Moren's Hoosiers take the floor for the 2017-18 season.

In the time since IU lost to Villanova in the WNIT on March 26, five would-be returning players have left the program for various reasons. That's on top of the five-member senior class group that exhausted eligibility.

Redshirt junior guard Tia Elbert went first when she decided to leave the team and instead focus on her schoolwork for the next two years. Junior Laken Wairau and sophomore Darby Foresman both opted for similar routes.

Ria Gulley wound up transferring to Liberty.

Danielle Williams was the last of the bunch, taking a medical hardship.

Gulley was the toughest loss. She started five games last season early on and wound up averaging 3.1 points over 32 games. She was projected to fight for a starting spot at shooting guard moving forward.

Foresman was the surprise of the bunch. She, like Gulley, projected to fight for starting time perhaps at center or at the very least continue to back up senior power forward Amanda Cahill next season. Foresman averaged 1.6 points and 1.7 rebounds in about nine minutes per game last season.

Elbert wasn't going to contend for major minutes but could have contributed to the guard rotation next season and perhaps see a larger role as a fifth-year senior. She played just 6.7 minutes per game last season as a backup point guard behind rising senior star Tyra Buss.

Wairu was seldom-used as a sophomore. She saw the floor for only three minutes. Although she could have made strides over the offseason, she was going to need a significant jump to make an impact on the program.

And Williams was much like Wairu. She battled a few too many injuries and played just four minutes all of last season.

So who's left?

Five incoming freshmen are on the way, and they should provide depth across the board. Some may even fight for starting spots.

But of the returning bunch, there's a mix of proven talent and potential.

Today we look at Kym Royster.

Kym Royster: Unlockable potential?

This time last year, there was plenty of offseason talk about how Royster was primed to make a significant stride forward.

After averaging 4.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game as a freshman, Royster seemed poised to fight Jenn Anderson for the starting spot at center. Royster was long, athletic and experienced. It all seemed to be going her way.

But the season wasn't spectacular. It was just steady.

Royster ended the year averaging 4.3 points and 2.7 rebounds per game. She talked publicly about needing to improve her own confidence if she was going to stay on the floor.

Royster's coaches and teammates claim to see something in her. She's shown flashes of brilliance in games, too, like a nine point and nine rebound game to open last season. But consistency too often bit her.

Outlook: This could be your girl in the middle

Indiana needs a center, and in a perfect world Royster would be the one for the job.

She has all the traits you'd want in a traditional center. She's only 6-foot-2 but has a long wingspan that allows her to rebound at a high level when she's engaged. She doesn't create many scoring opportunities herself but seems fine with cleaning up others' messes.

Teri Moren said shortly after the end of last season that she told Royster it was her time to become a staple of the offense. Royster said she was ready.

For Indiana's sake, she better be.

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