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Transfer must lead IU

– Fifth-year transfer Evan Gordon is new to the Indiana roster, but the Arizona State transfer can’t act like it.

Gordon took a lengthy path to Bloomington that featured a two-year stint at Liberty before transferring to join the Sun Devils. He has averaged double-digit points all three years, including 10.1 points for Arizona State last year.

And on a young Hoosiers team, the 6-foot-3 guard can’t act like a new guy. He had to take a leadership role right away.

“Me starting out college when some of these guys were in eighth grade, that’s a little bit of an advantage,” Gordon said jokingly. “Leadership, knowing situation and knowing, you know, how to push through things guys aren’t used to in some of these workouts.”

Evan Gordon is the younger brother of former Hoosier Eric Gordon, and he has an understanding of the program’s history that is rare for a newcomer.

“Evan’s been through it. He’s a veteran in college basketball,” assistant coach Kenny Johnson said. “He obviously has a little bit more of an understanding of the tradition of the program than maybe someone else from a different background, but he’s able to explain to the freshmen what we do. He’s able to take the sophomores and teach them how to compete.”

And competition is just what IU needs.

Gordon and reigning Big Ten sixth man of the year Will Sheehey are the only two scholarship seniors this season.

While Sheehey and sophomore point guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell will carry the bulk of the leadership role, the Hoosiers needed a player to help fill in the gaps and show incoming players how to adjust to college. That was especially important after the departures of Maurice Creek and Remy Abell, a pair of guards who transferred to George Washington and Xavier.

Enter Gordon, who has a graduate exception waiver that allows him to play right away for IU despite transferring.

“The expectations are a lot higher, and that’s what I expected,” Gordon said. “Me coming here, the first thing is, wow, I got to adapt again. These guys are a totally different group than I’ve ever experienced.”

IU has a more talented group, more competitive group and more vocal group than Gordon was a part of at ASU and Liberty. And Gordon brings more than leadership to the Hoosiers.

“I think the No. 1 thing that people might not know about Evan that he’s bringing to the table is his competitive nature,” Johnson said. “He’s a physical guard. He’s someone who’s very prideful. He comes from a family that works, so he’s used to putting in the extra work that we talk about outside of our hours.”

Gordon isn’t his older brother, who was the No. 7 pick in the 2008 NBA draft and plays for the New Orleans Pelicans.

However, he’s what the Hoosiers need right now.

“That’s been his biggest thing that he’s done for us since he’s been here,” Johnson said. “He is that perfect veteran leader that you would expect from a senior guard stepping into this program.”

smorrison@jg.net

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