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Trendon Watford chooses LSU, IU misses out on another recruit


IU Coach Archie Miller looks back at the team during the first half of IU's game against Duke University in the Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina. IU stayed behind Duke throughout both the first and second half of the game.  Anna Tiplick Buy Photos

The recruits haven’t been coming in as successfully as last year for IU men’s basketball.

Monday afternoon, Trendon Watford, a five-star McDonald’s All American and brother of former IU player Christian Watford, chose Louisiana State University over IU, which was in his final four teams.

Last year, IU Coach Archie Miller was able to bring in five-star recruit Romeo Langford and four-star recruits Rob Phinisee, Jerome Hunter, Damezi Anderson and Jake Forrester. Those five made up one of the top-rated recruiting classes in the nation coming into the last season.

Langford declared for the NBA draft, and Forrester transferred to Temple University. Phinisee and Anderson are returning for next season, as is Hunter, who is hopeful to officially play a game after missing the entirety of last season with a leg injury.

With Langford and Forrester gone, along with graduating five seniors, Miller has spots to fill on his roster for next season.

Watford was the most recent player to decide on a destination other than Bloomington.

On May 10, four-star guard Lester Quinones had IU in his final five teams but chose the University of Memphis

A few weeks earlier, on April 23, Anthony Harris, a four-star guard recruited by IU, chose the University of North Carolina.

Five-star forward Keion Brooks from La Lumiere High School in LaPorte, Indiana, picked University of Kentucky over IU on March 15.

That’s not to say Miller hasn’t had any success when it comes to his 2019 recruiting class.

On Nov. 30, five-star forward and 2019 Indiana Mr. Basketball Trayce Jackson-Davis from Center Grove High School committed to IU. This will be the second year in a row Miller landed Indiana Mr. Basketball after Langford earned the award in 2018.

Miller’s first recruit of the 2019 class came on Sept. 6, when Armaan Franklin, a four-star guard from Cathedral High School, officially announced he would be playing for the Hoosiers. Franklin finished as runner-up to Jackson-Davis in Indiana Mr. Basketball voting.

IU also filled another roster spot for next season when sophomore Joey Brunk transferred from Butler University on April 16.

This incoming class is only Miller’s second recruiting class since taking the head coaching job in 2017. Five of the seven commits he’s signed in his time recruiting at IU have been from Indiana. Despite the talent and potential Jackson-Davis and Franklin bring to the court, this class hasn’t produced as much hysteria as last year's.

After a struggle in his first year at the helm with all of former IU Coach Tom Crean’s recruits, Miller’s second season had high hopes going into it since he had more time implementing his system with returning players along with his first recruiting class.

That preconceived notion held true for the season’s first few months as the Hoosiers began the season 12-2 through the nonconference slate and first few games of Big Ten play, finding themselves ranked No. 22 in the Associated Press top 25. Then, injuries, suspensions and drama led to an onslaught of losses, leaving IU out of the NCAA Tournament for a third-straight season.

Rumors swirled about the tension in IU’s locker room and how long Miller would keep his job as head coach. Aside from a few transfers, most players who endured the calamity of last season will be looking to correct it this year, but the number of new faces is few and far between.

The optimism of this year’s offseason isn’t as high as it was a season ago. With two scholarship spots left to hand out, the recruiting options are starting to dwindle for Miller.

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