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Breaking down Indiana’s scholarship situation

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There are two scholarships open. What could Archie Miller & Co. do with them?

High School Basketball: McDonalds High School All American Portrait Day
Romeo Langford would be an enormous addition for IU. The New Albany guard will reportedly make his college decision by the end of the month.
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

College basketball season is now officially over after Villanova took Michigan to the woodshed on Monday night in the NCAA Tournament Championship Game, but Indiana’s season has been over for awhile, ending in Madison Square Garden against [redacted] a month ago.

While Archie Miller’s first season gave Hoosier fans reasons for optimism, he has a big summer ahead of him. With the departures of Indiana’s four seniors, Curtis Jones’ transfer and Collin Hartman, who was a grad student, the Hoosiers open up six scholarships for use starting next year. They’ve already received letters of intent from Jerome Hunter, Damezi Anderson, Rob Phinisee, and Jake Forrester, so if you do the math that leaves IU with two scholarships for the 2018-19 season. What could Archie Miller do with those scholarships?

Well, the first option is easy. If Hoosier fans had their way, the first of those two scholarships would be filled with New Albany’s Romeo Langford.

If you’ve been paying attention to recruiting at all in the last year, you know who Langford is, but for those of you that may have been under a rock for the last year, I’ll give you the short version.

Langford is one of the leading scorers in the history of Indiana high school basketball, recently finishing his career with over 3,000 points. He drew enormous crowds wherever he and New Albany played, forcing fans that hoped to get a glimpse of him on the court to pre-order tickets to his games.

He’s 247’s fifth-rated prospect in this class and Hoosier fans really, really want him to choose Indiana. Langford is almost certainly Miller’s top priority in recruiting and for good reason.

Now, this is the part where things get interesting. Whether or not Langford chooses the Hoosiers, there will still be another scholarship, possibly two, for Miller to hand out. After Langford, what or who is priority number two?

Recently there has been a bit of chatter about Indiana being on the transfer market and a trio of potential transfer stick out.

The first potential transfer isn’t but a short ride down I-69 (nice) from Bloomington, it’s former Evansville Aces guard Ryan Taylor. Taylor, a Gary, IN native, averaged 21.2 points per game and hit 42 percent of his three-point shots last season as a redshirt junior, and Indiana could certainly use a player that can score from the perimeter, especially with the departure of Robert Johnson, who was the best shooter on the second-worst shooting team in the Big Ten last season.

So look for Taylor to be a key target for Miller, as he could be an impact player in the backcourt in 2018-19 because he’d be immediately eligible as a grad transfer.

Another player that would be immediately eligible to play for Indiana next season is Trey Porter, formerly of Old Dominion and George Mason. The 6-10 forward averaged 13 points and six rebounds last season for the Monarchs and already has a list of suitors on the transfer market:

Indiana could use some size, as we saw them struggle a bit against larger teams after the injury to De’Ron Davis. With no Freddie McSwain to be a quasi-center, Davis’ coming off an Achilles injury and Race Thompson still needing to prove himself, bringing Porter into the fold could help to bolster Indiana’s frontline.

The third potential transfer addition is a bit different from the other two, as he wouldn’t be immediately eligible to play at Indiana. CJ Walker, an Indianapolis native that spurned Purdue to head to Florida State, is available on the transfer market. Walker averaged eight points, two assists, and two rebounds last season at FSU and hit 35 percent of his shots from downtown.

The Arsenal Tech alum is being courted by Ohio State - he’ll visit Columbus this week - but he’d add some depth to the IU backcourt and bring some D1 (and NCAA Tournament) experience after sitting out a year. He’d also have two years of eligibility left following his redshirt.

So what happens if the recruiting cycle ends and Indiana hasn’t filled a scholarship with a transfer or recruit? There are two things that Archie Miller could do here, one of them possibly being a bit more favorable than the other.

The first option (the more favorable one, if you ask me) is to award the remaining scholarship to Zach McRoberts. McRoberts was a bit of a surprise last season, starting the season chained to the bench before eventually becoming a starter and key part of the IU defense later in the season.

The Carmel native could easily be considered one of the best defenders in the Big Ten and while his stat line is hardly ever flashy, he is a key cog of this team that does the little things and should probably be rewarded for that. Another positive aspect of giving McRoberts the scholarship would be that he’ll be a redshirt senior next season, so the scholarship would only be tied down for one season, so it could be used in recruiting, etc again next offseason.

The other option for Miller would be to just leave the scholarship open. In the past, Miller has noted that scholarships are valuable and he doesn’t want to use them just to use them. Leaving the scholarship spot open would allow IU the flexibility to potentially bring in a mid-season transfer next season (like what Oklahoma State did with Curtis Jones).

There are a lot of different ways Archie Miller could go with his two open scholarship spots for next season. Who eventually fills, or doesn’t fill, those spots will be decided in the coming months, and the first domino that could potentially fall could be Romeo Langford.

The young star will reportedly make his decision by the end of April, giving Hoosier fans a conclusion to what has been a long recruiting saga. The decisions that Miller makes this offseason will be crucial to the growth and progression of a program that needs success sooner rather than later.