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Five incoming freshman athletes to watch this season



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IU commit Khristian Lander is a 6-foot 2-inch point guard from F.J. Reitz High School in Evansville, Indiana. He is the No. 27 player in the 2020 class. Courtesy Photo

Here are five incoming freshman Hoosier athletes to watch in the 2020-21 season:

Santos Cantu, wrestling 

The four-time state champion from Crescent Valley High School in Oregon has checked off about every accomplishment a prep wrestler could ever want.

Not only was Cantu dominant in his high school career, but he also captured a gold medal in freestyle wrestling for Team USA at the Cadet Pan American tournament in Guatemala in 2018. That same year, he also earned a spot on the podium with a bronze medal in the Greco-Roman event.

Cantu is ranked No. 17 in the country in the 195-pound weight class, according to Intermat. After capturing his fourth state championship and finishing his high school career with a 142-13 record, Cantu was named an All-American by Wrestling USA Magazine.

Cantu was originally set to attend Ohio State before flipping his decision to IU on signing day last November.

Cantu can boost IU's lineup after a 2019-20 season where the Hoosiers only won two dual matches.

Tommi Stockham, volleyball

Among the incomers of IU volleyball’s highest-ranked recruiting class in program history, Stockham may be the most heralded.

The 6-foot 2-inch outside hitter took Nevada’s Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year honors for the second straight year after the 2019-20 season. Stockham tallied 622 kills, 402 digs, 92 blocks and 79 service aces in her senior campaign while leading Bishop Gorman High School to a state championship.

While also being named the Southern Nevada and Desert League Player of the Year, Stockham was ranked No. 32 in the 2020 class in the ace position by PrepVolleyball.com.

After posting a 14-19 overall record last season, Stockham could be a key piece in the beginning stages of a transformation within the IU volleyball program.

Brooke Benson, softball

Benson will arrive in Bloomington having been dubbed the No.1 shortstop in the country by Scout Softball twice.

As a middle infielder at Fishers High School, she has the single-season records for runs scored, home runs, RBI, lowest strikeout percentage, slugging percentage and batting average. She’s been selected to the All-Conference and All-County team twice, and she earned All-State recognition in 2019.

In her junior season, Benson helped guide Fishers High School to its first regional crown in school history.

It will be even more difficult to earn playing time after the coronavirus pandemic prompted the NCAA to grant all spring sport athletes another year of eligibility. Regardless, if her high school career is any indication of her future, Benson should have a chance to work her way into IU head coach Shonda Stanton’s lineup next season.

Gabriel Sanchez, men's track and field

When he arrives on campus, Sanchez will officially become the fifth Hoosier in program history to be named the Gatorade Indiana Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year.

As a senior at Lowell High School, Sanchez captured an individual state title with a time of 15:28.7. Throughout the year, he was also first to cross the finish line at the Dave Walker Invitational, the New Prairie Invitational and the sectional, regional and conference championships.

At the Nike Cross Nationals Midwest Regional championships, Sanchez finished in eighth place.

Sanchez will add to a Hoosier squad that won the Big Ten indoor track and field crown last winter.

Khristian Lander, men’s basketball

Shortly after Lander announced his commitment to IU in late February, he made it clear that he didn’t want to wait until 2021 to suit up in cream and crimson.

At the time, Lander was the No. 1 point guard in the nation, according to ESPN. Butin order to move into the 2020 class and be eligible to graduate, Lander had to complete a couple more classes at F.J. Reitz High School in Evansville, Indiana. After putting in extra work during quarantine, Lander completed his studies in time and will be joining the Hoosiers this season.

As the No. 27 player in the 2020 class, Lander has the ability to be an instant contributor for the Hoosiers. The 6-foot 2-inch point guard boasts springy, quick-twitch athleticism and can act as a distributor and scorer.

Lander will have a clear path to move into the starting lineup with the departure of rising senior Justin Smith, who started all 32 games for IU last season and transferred to the University of Arkansas.

With the addition of Lander, the Hoosiers have the potential to move to the top of the Big Ten this season and take meaningful steps toward their first Sweet 16 appearance since 2016.

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