BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Mike Woodson’s dramatic offseason roster rebuild got perhaps its biggest boost yet Friday, when top-10 forward Mackenzie Mgbako committed to Indiana following a visit to Bloomington last weekend.
A five-star prospect who originally signed with Duke, Mgbako reopened his recruitment in the spring window and took visits to St. John’s, Kansas and Indiana before announcing his decision Friday. He is the highest-rated player, per the 247Sports Composite, to commit to Indiana since Romeo Langford in 2018. Louisville was also considered a late contender.
Listed at 6-8, Mgbako is considered a potentially high-level shot-maker at the college level, with range stretching beyond the 3-point line and the kind of offensive versatility that makes him a matchup problem on the wing or in the frontcourt. He is the sort of threat the Hoosiers have had trouble defending in recent seasons, and have had equal trouble finding for themselves.
Can Mike Woodson recruit? That's an emphatic yes with Mackenzie Mgbako's IU commitment.
His commitment hands Woodson another major roster boost, as IU’s third-year coach constructs his first roster without Trayce Jackson-Davis.
Replacing the do-everything All-American forward was always going to require a comprehensive approach. Jackson-Davis was Indiana’s best scorer, rebounder and shot blocker, the Hoosiers’ most-threatening defensive presence and, by the end of last season, his team’s best facilitator. Both in terms of career numbers and usage rate, Jackson-Davis became the kind of player a program only sees once in a generation.
Yet there was always a strong parallel suggestion from Woodson that the kind of roster he’d prefer to build wouldn’t always necessarily be built around a focal-point big man. More than once, Woodson referred to Jackson-Davis as a sort of player — a back-to-the-basket forward — he’d never built around before, and while Jackson-Davis evolved into more than that by the end of his college career, IU’s rosters never really mirrored the length, athleticism and positional versatility of some of Woodson’s best NBA teams.
Players like Mgbako and Oregon transfer center Kel’el Ware give Indiana more of those traits, especially when coupled to the potential development of returners including Malik Reneau and Kaleb Banks. Whether Woodson can fashion his new-look roster into a winner, he has at least substantially remade his locker room into something more closely resembling the outfits he assembled as an NBA head coach.
This sort of dramatic reconstruction was always going to be necessary, with not just Jackson-Davis but also Miller Kopp, Race Thompson and Jalen Hood-Schifino all departed, plus Jordan Geronimo (Maryland) and Tamar Bates (Missouri) transferred out.
The Hoosiers still need more backcourt scoring punch to pair with Xavier Johnson and Trey Galloway. With one scholarship remaining, their pursuit of backcourt help could become a priority in the days ahead.
But Mgbako’s commitment is as important as any single roster addition this spring. He's a top-10 player in his class and a potential first-round draft pick, putting his faith in Woodson — to prepare Mgbako for the next level — and to rebuild IU into something as good as or better than it was last year, even through a major roster overhaul.
Woodson has had few better days on the recruiting trail since taking over at his alma mater.
Follow IndyStar reporter Zach Osterman on Twitter: @ZachOsterman.
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Mackenzie Mgbako commits to Indiana: Hoosiers land top-10 player