A year ago at this time, Indiana was cruising toward the finish line of what appeared to be a successful season.

The Hoosiers went 12-8 in Big Ten play, swept rival Purdue and picked up several other high-profile wins en route to a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

And then the postseason happened. Indiana lost in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament to Penn State. Then, the Hoosiers were ousted by Miami in the second round of the Big Dance. The Hurricanes ended up making a magical run to the Final Four, but that didn’t lessen the sting for IU — who has still not reached the Sweet 16 since 2016.

Every since that loss to Miami, things have gone down hill for Indiana. Mike Woodson’s team is nowhere near the NCAA Tournament picture and will finish under .500 in Big Ten play unless it upsets Michigan State on Sunday. The Hoosiers, who are 91st in KenPom this season as of this writing, somehow found another nadir to what has been a lost season on Thursday.

Liam McNeeley, a 5-star forward in the class of 2024, reportedly has decided to back out of his commitment to Indiana and is expected to be released from his national letter of intent.

To put it mildly, that is crushing news for Woodson, his staff and the Indiana faithful. McNeeley is one of the very best prospects in the country for the class of 2024, ranking No. 15 nationally per 247Sports Composite’s most recent update. He was also the only 2024 high school prospect signed to play for Indiana next season.

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After 3 years in Bloomington, Woodson doesn’t have much to show for his time at IU. A loss to Michigan State on Sunday would put Indiana at exactly .500 in Big Ten player over the past 3 seasons. He’s advanced past the first round of the NCAA Tournament once. Much of what he has accomplished could be attributed to Trayce Jackson-Davis, who was genuinely brilliant in 2022-23 en route to first-team All-America honors.

Without Jackson-Davis playing at a Wooden Award-calibre level, Indiana has been largely uncompetitive in the Big Ten during Woodson’s tenure.

Maybe that’s what McNeeley saw when he made the decision to back away.

Or maybe it was Indiana’s out-dated offensive system. The Hoosiers have ranked outside the top-320 nationally in 3-point attempt rate in each of Woodson’s 3 seasons at the helm, including 351st this season.

Or maybe it was Woodson’s lack of recognition that the college game has drastically changed in recent years. “I still think the college game is played inside-out,” Woodson told reporters earlier this week, just a couple of days before McNeeley decommitted.

Or maybe it was the fact that Indiana’s defense has been worse in every season under Woodson. Per KenPom’s opponent adjusted defensive efficiency metric, IU ranked 24th in 2022, 45th in 2023 and 92nd in 2024.

For McNeeley, a 6-foot-7, sharp-shooting forward with NBA aspirations, none of that makes sense.

And with McNeeley no longer in the fold, perhaps Indiana’s reported decision to retain Woodson for the 2024-25 season doesn’t make sense either. Woodson’s buyout of $12.6 million could reportedly be paid out in a series of installments — which would in theory make it much easier to stomach a change as early as this offseason.

In all likelihood, Woodson will be back next season. He’s made the NCAA Tournament twice, after all. But if fans or administrators see any hope in IU’s merely-mediocre 17-13 record, they probably shouldn’t.

ShotQuality, a metric that tracks the estimated value of every shot attempt during a game, actually shows Indiana as one of the “luckiest” teams in the Big Ten this year. Per ShotQuality, IU should have a record of just 12-18 going into this weekend’s regular-season finale. The metric has Indiana ranked outside of the top-100 in both offensive and defense.

If Woodson does return, he’ll enter next season with one of the hottest seats in the country. And based on IU’s trajectory and stubborn style of play, there’s little confidence he’ll be able to turn things around in time to earn a 5th year in Bloomington — just ask McNeeley.