A weekend campus visit centered on Hoosier Hysteria secured IU’s first commitment for the Hoosiers’ 2017 recruiting class. Aljami “Al” Durham, a 6-foot-4 guard from Georgia, verbally committed to IU on Monday morning.
“I felt like IU was the perfect fit for me," Durham told the Indiana Daily Student.
This weekend was Durham’s second visit to Bloomington. He also visited in June, but this time his entire family was able to see the school and its basketball program.
IU's newest commit said he had never experienced an event quite like Hoosier Hysteria, citing the family nature of the IU basketball program and its fan base.
"The fans will come out for rain, sleet, snow," Durham said. "Just sit out in line and wait to get inside the gym so they can watch the Hoosiers play."
Durham’s father, also named Al, said his son was ready to commit after his latest trip to IU.
“We got a lot of offers, and we’ve seen a lot of schools, and why wait?” he asked rhetorically. “Indiana is Indiana basketball.”
The Lilburn, Georgia, native also received offers from Georgia, Florida and Virginia Tech, among other schools.
The elder Durham said IU’s level of commitment and dedication displayed during the weekend impressed him the most about the program.
“The way they operated was like a well-oiled machine,” Durham’s father said. “They were on point, from here to there, the practice, and I’ve seen the commitment from the ball boys to the head coach.”
The coaches stopped practice to introduce themselves to Durham’s family, and IU Coach Tom Crean later spent an hour and a half talking with them.
“Throughout the day they made us feel like we were the only ones there,” Durham’s father said.
By committing to IU a year and a half before he will arrive on campus, Durham has time to improve his game with the goal of contributing as a freshman.
When Durham suits up in a cream and crimson uniform, the Hoosiers’ backcourt will look completely different than it does today. Senior point guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell, senior shooting guard Nick Zeisloft and junior wing Troy Williams will have exhausted their eligibility, and sophomore guard James Blackmon Jr. could choose to make the jump to the NBA after either of the next two seasons.
Sophomore guard Robert Johnson and junior transfer guard Josh Newkirk will be seniors when Durham is a freshman. The Hoosiers also have a pair of 2016 guards — Grant Gelon and Curtis Jones — who have verbally committed to IU.
“He’s their first recruit, first commit for 2017, so with Yogi, Blackmon and all those guys possibly going to be gone to the NBA, the situation’s perfect for him to come in as long as he continues to improve,” Durham’s father said.
A left-handed shooter who can also handle the ball, Durham will provide versatility for IU. His father projects him to be able to play the one, two or three spots in college.
“He’s going to have to get stronger, but he’ll be a great asset because he’s so versatile and athletic,” Durham’s father said. “He can play all those positions.”
The high school junior held his own this summer on the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League AAU circuit, where he played up a year with the Southern Stampede.
“Now the work begins,” Durham's father said. “It’s going to come quick, but he has some time so he doesn’t come in green as a freshman where he’ll start from ground one. He can at least come in mid-level and be ready when he gets there.”
Like what you're reading? Support independent, award-winning college journalism on this site. Donate here.
More in Sports
The winner will be announced Jan. 18, 2020.
Tsirtsis is a three-time All-American.
The Olympic gold medalist finally cashes in.