The Evolution of Will Sheehey

On the same night he was honored for becoming the 47th member of the 1,000 point club, senior forward Will Sheehey led the Hoosiers to victory over No. 20 ranked Iowa by posting a career-high 30 points and surpassing his previous record by eight. Sheehey went 13-20 from the floor and now has 48 career double-figure scoring contests.
“What an unbelievably ironic thing to have his career-high on the night he gets honored for his 1,000th point,” said head coach Tom Crean. “I thought he was going for 2,000.”

Despite his success, fellow senior Evan Gordon said the performance wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for the senior.

“I mean, it’s not anything new that we’re not used to,” said Gordon. “In practice, he does the same thing so it’s good that he actually got out on the court and let it rip.”

“He’s playing like the Will Sheehey that everyone has come to know and love and respect over the past couple of years,” said Crean. “We have huge leadership expectations of him and I think he’s capable.”

Sheehey has proven himself as a dominant force and leader for the Hoosiers this season, but a quick look at his past four years at IU will show just how far he’s actually come and how two NCAA tournament appearances, a Big Ten Championship, and playing in the World University games can change a man.

Sheehey came to IU from Sagemont High School in Westin, Florida as the No. 141 ranked small forward overall. He comes from a family that is extremely well versed in basketball – his dad played for Syracuse and St. Bonaventure while his uncle played at Virginia and was drafted by the Boston Celtics before going pro in Spain. Sheehey played AAU ball for the Florida Rams and was nominated for the McDonald’s All-American team.

His freshman year at IU (2010-2011), Sheehey played in 31 games and started seven. Coincidentally, a game against Iowa marked his first career start. He finished the season with 155 points for an average of 4.8 points per game and 48.4 percent from the field. He also posted 31 offensive rebounds, 36 defensive rebounds, and 12 assists. Sheehey also qualified as a finalist for Dunk of the Year – again, in a game against Iowa – but ultimately did not win the title.

His sophomore year (2011-2012), Sheehey again played in 31 games but started 11. He averaged 8.6 points per game and established a career-high 21 points against Butler when he went 3-4 from behind the arc and 8-10 from the free-throw line. Sheehey finished the season with 268 points and shot 50.5 percent from the field and 70.4 percent from the charity stripe. In his sophomore season, Sheehey also began distinguishing himself as a solid rebounder, pulling down 35 offensive rebounds and 62 on defense.

In 2012, the team advanced to the NCAA tournament where Sheehey contributed greatly on offense with 14 points in the IU victory over New Mexico State and 10 points in the IU loss to Kentucky in the South Regional.

Sheehey’s moment of glory occurred in the second game of the tournament for the Hoosiers, when, with 12.7 seconds left, he drained a baseline jumper giving IU the win over VCU and advancing them to the South Regional against Kentucky.

After a strong sophomore performance, Sheehey found his place as the ultimate sixth man among the No. 1 ranked standout squad of Christian Watford, Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo, Yogi Ferrell, and Jordan Hulls in his junior season (2012-2013). He appeared in all 36 games for the Hoosiers but only made one start on the season against Sam Houston State where he dropped 18 points. He scored a total of 343 points with an average of 9.5 points per game and a 48.6 field goal percentage that led all Big Ten players in scoring off the bench.

Sheehey’s standout game of the year occurred against in-state rival Purdue when he went 9-9 from the field and set an IU single-game record. Sheehey also continued to develop on both sides of the ball by pulling down 41 offensive rebounds, 86 defensive rebounds, and recording 46 assists and 28 steals on the season.

After winning the Big Ten Championship outright title and becoming the first Hoosier to ever receive the Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year award, Sheehey once again proved himself in the NCAA Tournament by dropping 15 points in the Hoosiers’ first matchup against James Madison, 10 points in the victory over Temple, and nine points in IU’s loss to Syracuse in the regional semifinals.

As a result of his consistent play, Team USA invited Sheehey to compete in the World University Games in Russia in the summer following his junior year. At the Games, Sheehey averaged 10.6 points per game and shot 58.7 percent from the field and 63.6 percent from the arc. He also scored a tournament-high 21 points in 20 minutes in the USA’s win over Finland for the title.

With the graduation of Watford and Hulls and after Zeller and Oladipo went to the NBA draft, Sheehey finally secured a spot as a permanent starter and leader for the Hoosiers. Thus far, he has 292 points and is averaging 10.8 points per game with 49 assists and became the 47th member of the 1,000 points club after dropping 10 points in the loss at Purdue. With Sheehey’s additional 30 points against Iowa, he moves to 44th place in the all-time leading scorers book, surpassing Jay Edwards’ 1,038 career total.

Indiana still has three games left in the regular season and Sheehey’s leadership, skill, and seniority will be even more crucial as these games, and the team’s potential success in the Big Ten Tournament will determine whether Indiana will advance to the NCAA tournament.

“We need his leadership and his courage,” said Crean on how Sheehey affects the team. “We just need Will to be Will.”

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