Joey Brunk Veterans Heart decides to not return to Indiana
That thought vanished this week, and it was announced via Twitter on Tuesday that he would not be returning to Indiana for his final season.
“I’m incredibly grateful for Indiana University,” he tweeted. “I was able to do my master’s degree and am grateful that I was able to continue my education. I’ve decided to continue my last year somewhere else. Thank you, Indiana. ”
The decision came as a bit of a surprise, with new Indiana coach Mike Woodson just saying on Friday that Brunk was with his Indiana teammates every day and was back on the ground playing basketball.
“He’s coming back. He’s been down here on the floor for the past few days, running around so I’m looking forward to having him back in uniform and ready,” said Woodson.
The problem, however, was that Brunk didn’t say it himself. During our last conversations with him in early March, he talked about the frustrations of missing this entire season after back surgery and wanted a different ending.
He talked a lot about not wanting to attend Indiana’s Seniors Day celebrations, “because it felt like I was attending, it felt like a closure to me, and my decision wasn’t really set in stone yet.”
He also went on to talk about a recent season review with Archie Miller and his staff and told me, “I want to keep playing basketball for the foreseeable future.”
After Miller was fired, he remained calm except to thank his former coach for bringing him to Indiana.
But when his teammates, who had dipped their toes in the transfer portal, returned to Bloomington, Brunk was one of the first to retweet the news. And when his best friend on the team, Trayce Jackson-Davis, decided to return, Jackson-Davis even talked about playing with Brunk again next year.
Tuesday’s news wasn’t that surprising as Brunk was idle on Friday, following Woodson’s comments. Woodson said he returned with such a conviction, but when the Indiana folks were asked to get a comment from Brunk, we were told he would announce it himself, as all of his other teammates have – like Race Thompson , Khristian Lander, Parker Stewart and Jordan Geronimo – or like Al Durham and Armaan Franklin.
But we didn’t hear from Brunk all weekend and even on Monday. It raised its eyebrows, and then Tuesday came the news.
Brunk’s departure doesn’t really help Indiana’s scholarship numbers because he wouldn’t have counted next year anyway. Indiana currently has 11 scholarships for the next season, so there is still room for two more players on the transfer portal if Woodson and his staff prefer this route.
Woodson didn’t even mention that he would aspire to a center on Friday, but that could change now. There are many talented tall men on the portal, including several Big Ten players. There’s no question Indiana could use some depth in the position.
Brunk’s decision is strange because he seemed happy here in Bloomington. He really cared about his teammates and he and Jackson-Davis are very close.
It will be interesting to see where he lands.