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New basketball coaches focus on in-state talent in early weeks



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IU men's basketball coach Archie Miller met with IU basketball beat reporters Tuesday for the first time since his introductory press conference March 27. Miller's new assistant coaches also spoke to the media Tuesday morning for the first time.  Courtesy Photo Buy Photos

If the incoming 2017 recruits didn’t want to play for the Hoosiers, it would have set back new IU men’s basketball coach Archie Miller’s plans.

After settling into Bloomington during his first week, Miller made in-home visits to incoming guard Al Durham and future IU forwards Justin Smith and Clifton Moore in early April.

When Miller persuaded all three incoming members of the 2017 recruiting class to stay with IU, he said he was extremely pleased and thankful.

“In many ways, that class, if it didn’t show up, would really end up being about a nine-person overhaul in about a two-year period of time,” Miller said. “How that tiers down and how you get better — with freshmen going to sophomores and sophomores to juniors — that improvement is really important in the development of a program.”

The final recruiting period for all of NCAA Division I basketball started April 6 and ended April 19. April 20 to July 5 is a quiet period for coaches, with the exception of the final two weekends in April, which can be used as an evaluation period for certified events only.

Once the three incoming freshmen reaffirmed reaffirmed their commitments to IU there were only a handful of days left in the period. Miller was able to move on from the incoming class and focus on what the future of his program would look like.

Miller and his new coaching staff were able to spend the final three days of the period recruiting in Indiana and using the new inside-out approach — recruiting in the state before going out — he spoke about at his opening press conference.

On Tuesday, Miller said the response to his recruiting system has been nothing but positive to this point and the coaching staff was able to hit multiple high schools around the state and introduce themselves.

“We were able to get some of the recruiting days and contact days that we were allowed to do,” Miller said. “I think in general what I feel is the state of Indiana, the high school coaches in Indiana would love for Indiana to be good every time, and I don’t anticipate that changing.”

A very instrumental part in Miller’s recruiting process so far has been assistant coach Ed Schilling. Schilling spent the last four years as an assistant at UCLA, was the head coach at Park Tudor High School in Indianapolis in 2009-12 and is a native of Indiana.

Schilling said recruiting starts with relationships, and he’s already had the opportunity to connect with high school head coaches around the state from his previous jobs. Schilling was successful in recruiting Indianapolis forward Kris Wilkes to UCLA this past year, and he’ll suit up for former Hoosier Steve Alford’s squad next fall.

“I think the reaction from everybody that I’ve run across is so favorable relative to Coach Miller because they see him as, ‘Hey, this is kind of a guy that’s cut of the Indiana school basketball cloth,” Schilling said. “In other words, a guy that loves basketball wants to get in there and sweat in the gym. Everybody that I’ve run into has been super favorable about Coach Miller.’”

In the little recruiting period time Miller had to work with, he met with class of 2018 five-star guard Romeo Langford out of New Albany, Indiana, and four-star guards Robert Phinisee from McCutcheon High School and Eric Hunter from Tindley Accelerated School among others.

As of now, IU is over-signed by two scholarships for the upcoming season if junior guards James Blackmon Jr. and Robert Johnson and sophomore forward Thomas Bryant all return after testing the NBA waters.

However, Miller said he isn’t concerned about that after prior experience and doesn’t see the current roster situation as a challenge moving forward.

“We have three more guys that could walk in tomorrow and say I’m not coming back,” Miller said. “We had a couple instances in Dayton where we were over, and at the end of the day we ended up being under two and three when it was all said and done, so you never can tell, but we’ll sort it out. We inherited, and we’ll fix it.”

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