As for why he returned to Bloomington rather than entering the transfer portal, it is not enough to say that Jordan Geronimo is working on moving his game to the perimeter where the hope for more time from game with Indiana awaits.
Truth be told, Geronimo could have gotten more assured playing time in a number of places that would have welcomed him with open arms whether he played all three or all four.
With three more years of eligibility remaining, Geronimo still has plenty of time to reach his dizzying ceiling fueled by his NBA-level athleticism.
Although his vertical and wingspan allow Geronimo to play much higher than his 6-foot-6 height, these are attributes that are relatively common at the next level. So, because he is 6ft 6in tall, Geronimo indeed needs to become a small forward if he wants to play professionally in the United States, and he has quite a long way to go developmentally to get there.
So when Geronimo says his college head coach, who spent 25 years coaching in the NBA, was a big reason for his comeback, it comes across as more than just a smart kid who knows the right topic.
“The ultimate factor in my coming back (to Indiana) was that I had faith in Mike Woodson,” Geronimo said.
Geronimo knows he has plenty of time to develop in college, he knows his head coach has a keen eye on what that necessary development looks like, and in the meantime he can maximize his playing time potential. on a deep roster by proving his ability to perform in multiple places.
And while the transfer portal has provided an easy exit for some, there is also a different reality for others like Geronimo. The New Jersey product committed to Indiana on-site during his first recruiting visit, and that love affair seems to continue. He developed a bond with his teammates and the program.
Jumping into the portal for a quick change didn’t feel right to me.
“I have faith in the program which, you know, is bigger than me, really,” Geronimo said. “I want the program to succeed and for us to fight for a championship. We fight for it. So, I want to be part of this program, and see other players who have come, everyone coming back, and I’m like, I feel like this is something that I can’t not to be a part of.
“I trust the coach and I trust the staff, the players, and I feel like it’s a good decision to come back.”
Geronimo may actually have less competition for playing time next season in his original power forward position. Race Thompson will of course be tough to pass on the depth chart, and rookie Malik Reneau is clearly in on it as well.
However, on the wing of the three, several players are struggling to see the ground, including Miller Kopp, Tamar Bates, CJ Gunn, Kaleb Banks, Anthony Leal and Trey Galloway.
The competition at the small forward seems pretty wide open, and Geronimo’s length and athleticism clearly give him some attributes that Woodson prioritizes, especially on the defensive end. It was those abilities that gave Woodson the comfort of playing Geronimo at least 19 minutes in each of the last three games he was available in the 2022 playoffs.
He is of course working on the things you expect, shooting and ball handling, to prove his ability on the perimeter. Geronimo says he has improved in both areas.
“I’m not going to say I’m like Kyrie Irving but it’s (his ball handling) just better, you know what I mean,” he said. “It’s getting better and seeing an improvement is a good show.
But it’s the higher-level aspects of perimeter play that may well determine Geronimo’s readiness. The challenge of being ready to play two-seater involves knowing the nuances of each position and being ready to adapt on the fly depending on the role they are being asked to take on.
“It’s learning things like transition defense. As a big man, as a four I guess, I would just run to the rim, you know what I mean, protect the rim on transition,” Geronimo said.
“As a three I would be able to try to stop the ball in transition so that’s something I keep in mind. Also I fight for ball screens now so that’s is the kind of stuff that’s different.
“But also, plays. Fours and threes have different positions and games, so I have to remember all that stuff. So that’s a lot.
Last year, Geronimo sometimes struggled on the perimeter with judgment and knowing where he was supposed to be. None of this is necessarily surprising to someone who played center for much of his relatively short first experience with the game.
These are some of the higher level aspects of the Threesome game that he is emphasizing at the moment.
When it comes to earning playing time in the small forward position, it’s about more than just getting shots and improving your skills right now.
“In terms of decision-making, it goes both ways, on the ball and off the ball,” Geronimo said. “On the ball, which means I’m just improving, you know, knowing when to try to attack, knowing when to shoot the ball, knowing when to pass the ball, you know what I mean.
“But off ball, knowing when to cut and knowing when to set certain actions like low screens, off ball screens, something like that. But that’s the kind of improvements I mean when I say I’m getting better at decision making.
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