2023-24 Indiana basketball player profile: Mackenzie Mgbako – Inside the Hall

As the college basketball season approaches, we have shifted our focus from analyzing other Big Ten teams to providing player-by-player previews of the 2023-24 Indiana roster.

Today, we continue with a profile of freshman Mackenzie Mgbako.

Previously: Jakai Newton

Mike Woodson’s ability to recruit top-tier, five-star freshmen continues to impress. This year, he secured the commitment of Mackenzie Mgbako, the No. 8 player in the class according to 247Sports’ composite ranking. Mgbako brings something to the Hoosiers that they have been missing in recent years: a wing scorer.

Mgbako initially signed with Duke, but after Kyle Filipowski unexpectedly decided to return for a sophomore season, Mgbako looked for a new opportunity for more playing time. It is said that Mgbako’s mother reached out to Woodson to start the recruitment process, and the rest is history, with Woodson once again closing the deal.

While Mgbako may not possess explosive athleticism, his combination of size, length, and offensive skills make him a projected one-and-done player. He has made it clear that his ultimate goal is to make it to the NBA after this season.

Mgbako is a proficient shooter from beyond the arc and has the ability to finish at the rim, even through contact. His size and physical maturity for a freshman also make him a threat in the post and mid-range, intimidating smaller defenders with his fadeaways and jump hooks. Some have compared his playing style to that of Jayson Tatum, and he has also sought guidance from another high-scoring wing, Carmelo Anthony.

Defensively, Mgbako’s wingspan of 6-foot-10 and muscular frame allow him to switch onto multiple positions and block shots. He has also shown an aptitude for rebounding, a valuable asset for his position.

As the season approaches, the main questions surrounding this talented freshman are how well he will fit in and how quickly he will adjust to the college game. Mgbako will need to establish chemistry with another highly-regarded NBA prospect, Kel’el Ware, as well as with experienced point guard Xavier Johnson, who is new to both of them. However, Woodson’s pro-style offense, which relies on high ball screens and his best players creating opportunities, may alleviate some of these concerns.

Additionally, Woodson places a high emphasis on defense, so Mgbako will need to be prepared to meet those expectations as he transitions to the college level.

Bottom line: With the departures of Trayce Jackson-Davis and Jalen Hood-Schifino to the NBA, Mgbako’s commitment to the Hoosiers fills a significant need for a high-scoring player with a high usage rate. He is likely to start from the beginning of the season and has shown great skill and potential. How well he fulfills that potential may determine whether he enters the NBA after his freshman year.

Quotable: “Mac is extremely – I would use the word ‘deadly’ – because he has a different look in his eye when he gets the ball. He always puts pressure on the rim. The moment he catches the ball as a defender, you always have to be ready because he can attack you from so many different angles, so many different ways. He’s such a talented scorer. And his work ethic is beyond something that I could even fathom.” – Anthony Walker on Mgbako at IU media day

Filed to: 2023-24 season preview, Mackenzie Mgbako


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