A name as hot as any in college basketball’s transfer portal made it official on Tuesday afternoon, tweeting “Hoosier nation, c’est parti,” which translates to “here we go,” and sending Indiana fans into a frenzy. 

Oumar Ballo, a top-tier transfer who shot 64% from the field during his three seasons at Arizona, announced he’s taking his talents to Bloomington to play for fourth-year head coach Mike Woodson and the Hoosiers next season. The 7-foot, 260-pound rising fifth-year senior has been one of college basketball’s best rebounders over the last two seasons. He averaged 12.9 points and 10.1 rebounds per game this past year while ranking first in the Pac-12 in offensive rebounding rate and second in the league in defensive rebounding rate. With Kel’el Ware off to the NBA after one season at IU, Woodson and his staff had a clear void to fill at the center position and this answers that bell for Indiana. 

Ballo notched 20 double-doubles this past season, including a streak of nine straight, which was the program’s longest streak since the mid 1970s. He finished his career at Arizona ranked in the top three in program history with 34 double-doubles, which makes this such an invaluable pickup for Woodson during an offseason in which he and his staff have to make moves. 

The 65-year-old Woodson is coming off a disappointing third year at the helm at his alma mater, going 19-14 and missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time in his tenure, a year after leading the program to its first Big Dance win since 2016. The expectations are high at Indiana, and reeling in Ballo, who is reportedly getting $1.2 million in NIL money and had several potential suitors, is an eye-popping acquisition.

The addition of Ballo is the second portal splash made by the Hoosiers, who received a commitment from reigning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and Washington State transfer Myles Rice this past Saturday. Rice, who overcame a battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and returned to the court this past year, was tremendous in leading the Cougars to the NCAA Tournament, averaging 14.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. 

Rice, who was ranked 17th in the 247 Sports transfer portal rankings, makes Indiana the only program in America to have reeled in a pair of top-20 transfers so far this offseason. 

What’s next for Woodson and his staff? Acquire perimeter shooting. While Trey Galloway and Mackenzie Mgbako are projected to return, the Hoosiers were still last in the conference with just five made 3-pointers per game this past season. Woodson has favored a 3-out, 2-in traditional offense, meaning adding a shooter or two with the remaining four scholarships should be paramount for Indiana to be a top-25 candidate. 

Another potential portal addition is Stanford transfer Kanaan Carlyle. The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 11.5 points and 2.7 assists per game this past year for the Cardinal and has picked up crystal ball predictions to land in Bloomington

But more than anything, at this moment, Woodson and the Hoosiers mean business, and the way they’re constructing the roster is indicative of the sense of urgency that was needed for Indiana to get back on track next year. Getting Ballo does a ton to build up those hopes around Bloomington.

John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers the sport in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta.

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