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Archie Miller gets to work on the recruiting front

While he scrambles to keep the 2017 class intact, Indiana’s new head coach has no shortage of options in 2018 and beyond.

NCAA Basketball: Dayton at VCU Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

With a new coach comes a new recruiting style, and in Bloomington, the Hoosiers are hoping that this is just the type of shot of energy the program needs. It’s unfair to say that Tom Crean and his staff did a bad job of recruiting, but it’s no secret that the former Indiana staff did not have the best relationships with the AAU power players in the state of Indiana. Whether it was due to personal recruiting preferences or a general apathy to the importance of in-state recruiting, the Hoosiers mostly missed out on both high-level local talent as well as the solid 4-year types (Ohhh heyyyyy Bryant McIntosh) for the latter half of Tom Crean’s time at IU.

And so here we are, with a brand-new, fresh-faced coach and an infinite number of potential outcomes from here on out. That’s exciting! But just as any new relationship goes, the hard work is yet to come. The only sure thing for Archie Miller is that he will have his work cut out for him from day one - and that’s especially true on the recruiting trail. In today’s AAU-focused trajectory for high-major talent, relationships are important with not only players, but AAU coaches as well. Luckily, Miller is no rookie to this game. He comes in with important recruiting experience at both the high and mid-major levels. While an assistant at Arizona, Miller was key in bringing in future first-round picks Derrick Williams and Solomon Hill, and then later as an assistant at Ohio State, he helped keep Jordan Sibert and Aaron Craft stay local and play for the Buckeyes. While at Dayton, Miller cultivated relationships all across the Midwest, notably with the Spiece Indy Heat AAU program.

As he starts his tenure in Bloomington, Miller will undoubtedly look to extend an olive branch to the power AAU programs of the state (Eric Gordon All-Stars, Indiana Elite, Spiece Indy Heat, etc.) as he attempts to repair frayed relations and re-establish an in-state pipeline. At the same time, Miller can only do so much. Sponsorships under which each AAU program is signed have become more influential than ever. Players grow accustomed to wearing certain types of brands and associate the brands as a part of their game, and while it would appear to be a minor detail in the big scheme of picking a college, these sponsorships have become yet another component to recruitments that seems to be carrying increasing amounts of significance by the day. Among the three programs listed above, both the Eric Gordon All-Stars and Indiana Elite are sponsored by Adidas, while Nike has the Spiece Indy Heat. With IU as an Adidas school, do not be surprised to see Miller focus on players from Adidas-sponsored AAU programs.

Admittedly, though, this is all conjecture for the future, and there are plenty of real, tangible players at the high school level right now with very real interest in Indiana, so let’s see what Miller will have to work with as he sets out to begin his recruiting career at IU.

The 2017 Crean Commits

  • The crown jewel of Indiana’s 2017 class, Justin Smith, was named as a first-team All-State player in the state of Illinois. He has been very quiet during the coaching transition, but he remains committed to the Hoosiers.

  • For the rest of Tom Crean’s 2017 class, the future is more unclear. Both Al Durham and Clifton Moore asked for releases from their letters of intent upon Crean’s dismissal, but Archie Miller has made it a point to try to keep them around. Word on the street is that Durham is more likely to return than Moore, but reports on fluid situations like these are always changing, so it’s hard to put too much stock in this or any report, for that matter.

Other 2017 Targets

  • McKinley Wright, technically still a Dayton commit, is the main Archie Miller recruit to watch as Miller makes his transition. Wright has been told that he has a spot at Indiana if he wants it, but Miller went on Dan Dakich’s show last week and had this to say:

  • The ship has probably sailed on the idea of Mark Smith suiting up in candy stripes next year. The out-of-nowhere-turned-super-prospect now has offers from just about everywhere, and is rumored to be taking visits to Kansas and Kentucky in the near future.

2018 Targets

  • You better believe Archie Miller will put in the necessary work on Romeo Langford. A top-3 player in the class of 2018, Langford would certainly be the highest-rated commit for any Archie Miller-led team, and could possibly be the highest-rated recruit EVER to play at Indiana. The obvious caveat here is that Romeo can pick from literally any school in the country. Maybe Archie can woo him with a sweet powerpoint or something.

  • A new coach will bring in new recruiting targets, and Eric Hunter is the first player to demonstrate this point. The four-star, 6’3”, 165 lb SG out of Indianapolis was not being recruited by Tom Crean, but with Archie Miller under the helm, it’s a new day. Hunter, the best player on a Tindley team that won the 1A state championship in Indiana, will be part of a new wave of recruitments to watch over the coming months.

  • A kid with a ton of positive momentum, McCutcheon’s (IN) Robert Phinisee has long been connected with Indiana, and not solely for Tom Crean reasons. There looks to be no change in Indiana’s pursuit of the local 4-star PG, so it’s safe to expect this recruitment to pick up steam as Miller settles in.

  • Musa Jallow, the rising 3-star wing out of Bloomington North (IN), is sure to receive some renewed attention in the wake of the shakeup just down the street from his high school. The ultra-athletic 6’5” wing showed vast improvements in his game this year and has the look of a player just beginning to realize how good he can actually be.

  • Here’s a new name to keep an eye on: Robby Carmody. A four-star SG out of Mars HS in Mars, PA, Carmody has deep ties to the Miller family. Ranked #83 in the class of 2018, the 6’4”, 185 lb SG has unlimited range and could become a focus for Indiana.

  • A final name to watch is Kevin Easley, currently a commit at VCU. The Lawrence North (IN) product, a three-star, 6’6”, 210 lb F, is a prime candidate to be on the move following Will Wade’s departure as head coach and returning to his home state is a very distinct possibility if he were to ask for his release.

Two very special 2019 targets

  • Trendon Watford, a player with a very special last name around Bloomington, should be a major focus of Archie Miller’s plans for 2019. While Tom Crean never appeared to make Watford a priority (but, to be fair, he didn’t with any 2019 prospect yet), the new regime in Bloomington will be sure to leave no stone unturned with the five-star SF from Birmingham, AL, considering the deep family ties to IU.

  • Archie Miller has reportedly reached out to the coach of Keion Brooks, the 6’8”, 185 lb five-star SF out of North Side HS in Fort Wayne. Read more about Brooks here in our own profile of the #17 ranked prospect in the class of 2019.