IU Coach Archie Miller detailed Tuesday his whirlwind first month as the new head coach of IU men’s basketball.
He said he’s been recruiting in the past few weeks, but one of the main things he has done is get acquainted with the roster and the players. Miller has observed the players in workouts throughout the past three to four weeks and he said he has been pleased by what he has seen so far.
“Sometimes it’s difficult to get anything done in three weeks when you don’t know somebody,” Miller said. “But I feel like with their approach and what we’ve tried to put together for a four-week period of time, they took advantage of it and they improved.”
Miller was also happy with the resilience and positivity shown by the current players through the coaching transition.
Senior forward Collin Hartman decided to return to IU after several conversations with Miller. Hartman has participated in workouts this spring after missing all last season due to knee surgery but has not been cleared for contact yet. He will stay at IU all summer to continue his rehabilitation, and Miller said the goal for Hartman’s return is November, when next season begins.
“It didn’t take long to figure out what he’s about, what he’s been through, and what he wants to be about now is, I think, a better finish,” Miller said. “An opportunity to help establish something here on the front end where he can be attached to something new.”
One player that stuck out to Miller during workouts was freshman forward De’Ron Davis. Miller said Davis could be one of the most improved players in all of college basketball next season if he works hard enough.
“Getting my eyes on De’Ron this spring really put me in an aggressive mode with him in terms of what he has to do for next year,” Miller said. “He’s going to be a major major-league player for us next year. The opportunity is there.”
Miller said that starts in the next 12 weeks for Davis, who needs to change his body and his motor, but Miller said he loves the big man’s feet and hands. Miller wants Davis to improve his body so he can be able to play substantial minutes next season.
Miller said another freshman who stood out was guard Devonte Green, whom Miller likened to other guards he has coached in the past.
“He’s physical,” Miller said. “He can really get the ball to the rim. We need guys like that.”
Miller called junior James Blackmon Jr. the best shooter he’s ever been around, but Blackmon, junior guard Rob Johnson and sophomore forward Thomas Bryant are getting ready to begin the NBA draft process following the end of the school year. All three could return next season.
“I think if all the perimeter guys are back, and an incoming guy like Al (Durham), even Justin Smith, I think we’ll have a very, very talented back court,” Miller said. “I think we’ll have a very experienced back court. I also think we can have some depth in the back court.”
Another player who Miller believes could blossom is sophomore forward Juwan Morgan. Miller said when he looks at the different roles each player may fill next season, Morgan sticks out as one who could excel and break out.
Overall, Miller said he is still getting a feel for the roster but is happy with what he sees. He said it may still be too soon to tell how the 2017-18 Hoosiers will play most effectively, but Miller remained cautiously optimistic.
“I feel like we’re going to have, with a little bit of luck, I think we’re going to have a team that can play a couple different ways,” Miller said.
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