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Will Indiana Improve In Archie Miller’s First Season?

What should Hoosier fans be watching for this offseason?

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Indiana vs Wisconsin Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

With North Carolina’s win over Gonzaga earlier this month, the 2016-’17 college basketball season officially came to a close. And with that development, attention quickly turned to next season and, for our site, next year’s Big Ten.

In an effort to help with that transition, we are taking a look at some of the biggest offseason storylines for each team. Here’s a look at the previous editions:

As such, here are the three most important things for the Indiana Hoosiers this offseason.

Three Key Offseason Storylines For Indiana:

1. What happens with Indiana’s early NBA entrants?

With the NBA’s new draft rules, there’s a lot of uncertainty across the college basketball landscape. Key players are now allowed to declare for the NBA Draft, communicate with professional teams, and later decide to return to campus. It’s a hectic period for head coaches who are trying to figure out rosters for next season.

Indiana, of course, is no exception to this limbo status. Although OG Anunoby indicated that he would be hiring an agent and heading to the NBA, Indiana still has to wait on James Blackmon, Thomas Bryant, and Robert Johnson to see if the three will opt to hire agents and head to the NBA or return to school.

Needless to say, there’s still a lot of uncertainty in Bloomington.

And to put that into perspective, just consider that, of the team’s returning minutes from last season, roughly 43.8 percent were supposed to come from those three players. It’s also worth mentiong Johnson led the team in minutes, Blackmon led the team in scoring, and Bryant led the team in rebounding last season.

So, yeah, the fact that all three are in limbo is kind of a big deal.

Indiana can still find ways to win next season, with or without those three, but there’s no debating that the decisions of Blackmon, Bryant, and Johnson will have a tremendous impact on next season in Bloomington. Figuring out which of these three (if any) will return will tell a lot about next year’s Hoosiers.

2. Does Indiana get hit with any attrition?

Today, transfers may be a controversial aspect of college basketball, but there’s no denying their significance. Hundreds of players across the country have already decided to head elsewhere and there’s no sign that it’s going to be slowing down anytime soon. If you want to see how much they could impact the Big Ten, just take a look at this year’s Big Ten offseason transfer list.

So far, Indiana has been fortunate. The program hasn’t seen any surprising transfers yet this offseason, which has left Archie Miller with an oversigned roster at the moment. Indiana is currently one scholarship over the limit and even with three players with NBA decisions to make, that could lead to some interesting developments.

Now, given my strict policy against speculating as to specific transfers, I’m not going to go into detail as to who might transfer. I don’t have any inside info on this topic and refuse to even imply any specific player is considering leaving campus.

However, given the scholarship situation and the fact that Indiana hasn’t seen anyone depart by way of transfer yet this offseason, it does raise the eyebrows. This is something Hoosier fans will want to watch in the weeks to come.

3. How does Archie Miller trend up on the recruiting trail?

As any fan knows, few things are more important to a college basketball program than recruiting. And for a newly hired head coach, it’s his first opportunity to hit the ground running. It might take months, or even years for those efforts to show themselves on the court, but, ultimately, it’s what will determine whether the program is successful or not.

For Miller, the next few months will offer a prime example of the importance of recruiting. He did a great job of locking down the program’s 2017 class, but what will he be able to do in 2018 and beyond? Those are going to be the most important classes of Miller’s tenure in Bloomington.

Maybe that sounds hyperbolic, but it’s true. The first and second full recruiting classes for a new coach are tremendously important. They set the talent base for the program and will, ultimately, determine whether a coach even gets a fourth and fifth year. Coaches can succeed without elite success in those classes, but it’s still important to land quality guys that set the tone for the new coach.

The good news for Miller and Indiana is that the Hoosiers are already in on some major 2018 recruits, including five-star prospects Romeo Langford and Darius Garland. Both are top 10 players that could make an immediate impact in Bloomington. Miller can win without these two and some of the program’s other top targets, but landing one, or both, would be a great way for Miller to make a mark in his first few weeks on the job in Bloomington.

Overall

The next few months are going to be interesting ones for Indiana under Miller’s leadership. Fans will now have to see what Miller can do with his current hand and whether he can build things on the recruiting trail for the future.