Race Thompson, Jake Forrester showing the future of Indiana basketball forwards is bright in any event

Indiana University men's basketball coach Archie Miller walks to the bench area as his team plays Minnesota during the first half of a game last season in Bloomington. (By The Associated Press)
2018-19 Indiana University redshirt freshman forward Race Thompson
Indiana University Director of Athletic Performance, Men's Basketball, Clif Marshall
2018-19 Indiana University freshman forward Jake Forrester
Trayce Jackson-Davis shoots a free throw during the second half of July 27 game at Spiece Fieldhouse. The game was part of the GRBA National Championships that Jackson-Davis' Indy Heat team won. (Photo by Dan Vance of News-Sentinel.com)

When Indiana high school basketball sensation Trayce Jackson-Davis announced over the weekend that Indiana University was one of the remaining six programs that he was still considering, it resonated with the Hoosier fan base as they day-dreamed about what the 6-foot-10, 228-pound athlete could one day achieve in Bloomington.

However, the prospect of Jackson-Davis in Assembly Hall (other than when he visits officially for ‘Hoosier Hysteria’ Sept. 29) is pure fantasy – at this point.

What is oh-so-real, however, is the fact that both Race Thompson and Jake Forrester will be power forwards that are competing for playing time THIS season, as well as possibly the ensuing three years after that.

“Race really took advantage of his redshirt season,” second-year Indiana coach Archie Miller said this spring. “Number one, he took advantage of the physical development.”

That “physical development” continued throughout the summer, as well.

Indiana strength coach Clif Marshall tweeted out photos last month of Thompson as being part of a freshman class (along with Clifton Moore, Al Durham, and Justin Smith) who averaged the following physical gains in their first college season:

• Standing vertical (an increase of 6 ½ inches)

• Deadlift (an increase of 195 pounds)

• Bench press of 185 pounds (an increase of 10 reps)

• Pull-ups (an increase of 16 reps)

Thompson was listed at 6-foot-8, 220 pounds last season, one in which he sat out as a redshirt after graduating from Armstrong High School in Plymouth, Minn. a year early. However, based on Marshall’s photos (and Miller’s words), he is much better prepared to compete this fall than last.

“The difference between him graduating from high school right now,” Miller said, “and him going through the (2017-18 season) in our strength and conditioning program and then practicing every day, that is a big advantage for a guy like him.”

Not only did Thompson grow physically, Miller said that the season in Bloomington – even without games – was instrumental in his development intellectually.

“He learned how we practice every day,” Miller continued. “He’s familiar with all of that. He didn’t have the pressure of having to play, so being in practice every day, working on his game, going against first-team guys; I think that he got a lot better.”

This season, Thompson and Forrester will battle for minutes behind one of the nation’s best college players in senior Juwan Morgan, as well as St. Mary’s graduate transfer Evan Fitzner.

“He’s got a long way to go,” Miller said of Thompson. “This off-season, he needs to continue to develop his offensive game away from the basket. That is something that we’ve talked a lot about.

“But Race is a tough kid. He showed that last year and I think that he is a guy that will mix it up for us.”

Forrester has not had a full season under Marshall’s guidance, but two-plus months have been productive enough.

He came to Bloomington as a 6-foot-8, 215-pound kid, but Marshall tweeted out this summer that he put Forrester on a regiment that has produced a dozen pounds of “lean muscle mass” in just his first month away from home.

“Jake is a versatile frontcourt player who has only scratched the surface of his basketball ability,” Miller said upon signing Forrester out of Westtown School in Harrisburg, Penn. “He has a tremendous work ethic and seems to improve daily.”

He certainly did that this summer.

Marshall had Forrester work the following program to produce the incredible results:

• A strategic, 4 day a week lifting plan

• Three square meals and snacks with a goal of 6,500 calories from macronutrients

• One gram of protein per pound of bodyweight

“His best basketball is ahead of him,” Miller said of Forrester. “The sky is the limit for who he can become as a player.”

The future for Indiana basketball at the “four spot” very well may be bright if Jackson-Davis signs with the Hoosiers. However, what Thompson and Forrester have demonstrated thus far is that it may be regardless.

For more on the sport of basketball, follow Tom Davis on Twitter at Tom101010 and Facebook at Thomas Davis.

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