Archie Miller had a busy first month as Indiana’s new head coach. Having already dealt with his top-four scorers declaring for the NBA Draft, he turned his attention to trying to secure the incoming recruits for Indiana basketball.
Update: so far so good for the Hoosier faithful.
Coach Miller has received re-committments from all three top recruits for the 2017 season. After making personal home visits to all three players, Miller has convinced three-star recruits Aljami Durham and 6-foot-10 Clifton Moore, as well as four-star recruit Justin Smith to fortify their commitments to the Hoosiers.
This is an impressive accomplishment for Miller, since both Moore and Durham had asked to be released from their letter of intent.
The next challenge for Miller is addressing the current over-signings that Tom Crean left on the Indiana roster. As of now, the Hoosiers have 16 scholarship players but only 13 spots.
The solution here centers around the four players who have declared for the draft. O.G. Anunoby has announced he will sign with an agent, but the three remaining underclassmen could all return to Indiana.
Assuming junior guard and second-leading scorer Robert Johnson returns, that still leaves Indiana with two extra scholarships over the limit. Both junior guard and leading scorer James Blackmon Jr. and sophomore center Thomas Bryant will not hire an agent, leaving their return to Indiana a distinct possibility.
If they do return, Coach Miller would need to have some difficult conversations with two current players. But given the talent level of Blackmon and Bryant, it would be a conversation Miller would gladly have.
Potential Depth Chart
If all three players return to Indiana, the Hoosiers will absolutely be a Top-10 ranked team nationally. Here is a projected Indiana starting lineup for 2017-2018:
Center: Thomas Bryant, Junior (12.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg)
Forward: Juwan Morgan, Junior (7.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg)
Forward: Collin Hartman, Senior (Return from injury)
Guard: James Blackmon Jr., Senior (17.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg)
Guard: Robert Johnson, Senior (12.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg)
The Hoosiers bench will be deep as well with senior Josh Newkirk (9 ppg), sophomore De’Ron Davis (5.9 ppg), and the three incoming freshmen. The talent on the Hoosiers is so deep that as long as either Bryant or Blackmon return, Indiana fans should feel confident for securing a 2017 NCAA Tournament bid.
The Hoosiers are scheduled to play in the prestigious 2K Sports Classic at the start of the 2017-2018 season.
Indiana is dedicated as one of four "Host Pool Teams," meaning they will also host two preliminary-round games at home, before traveling to Madison Square Garden for the semi-finals and final. Those games are scheduled for November 16th and 17th.
The Hoosiers will get valuable experience in New York, since the 2018 Big Ten Tournament will be played at Madison Square Garden as well.
Coach Miller has already started to put his mark on the Indiana program. By keeping the three top recruits, Miller has validated his strong recruiting reputation to the Indiana faithful. If the Hoosiers can get two of the NBA draft declarations to return to campus, the 2017-2018 season will start lining up to be a special season in Bloomington.