“Phase 2” of the Archie Miller era with Indiana basketball gets underway today

Indiana University men's basketball coach Archie Miller calls instructions during the first half of his team's game at Nebraska in Lincoln this past season. (By The Associated Press)
Indiana Mr. Basketball Romeo Langford drives to the basket in a recent game against Kentucky at Bellarmine University in Louisville. (By Tom Davis of News-Sentinel.com)
Indiana All-Star forward Damezi Anderson (7) watches his teammate, Mr. Basketball Romeo Langford, shoot a free throw in a recent game against Kentucky at Bellarmine University in Louisville. (By Tom Davis of News-Sentinel.com)
Indiana All-Star guard Robert Phinisee (2) blocks a shot by a Kentucky player in a recent game at Bellarmine University in Louisville. (By Tom Davis of News-Sentinel.com)
INdiana University redshirt freshman forward Race Thompson

Indiana men’s basketball coach Archie Miller recently referred to this morning as “Phase 2” of the development of his program and he added that “as a staff, we’re really excited.”

He could have added the entirety of the “Hoosier Nation” in that assessment.

The Indiana veterans came back onto campus a couple of weeks ago to continue their preparations for the 2018-19 season but as of today, the entire 18-man roster will be in Bloomington, as the incoming freshmen report to duty.

“Our returning guys had a good spring,” Miller said, “and their knowledge of how to do things is really going to help accelerate our young guys.”

Of the 18 players on the Indiana roster, 12 were with the program last season.

Miller is bringing in five freshmen and a graduate transfer from Saint Mary’s (forward Evan Fitzner).

“This is a team that is relatively going to have an influx of young talent (and) new people,” Miller continued, “and our returning guys are going to have to mesh. It’s an opportunity to really blend this summer.”

Not only are Miller and the Indiana fan base “excited” about the “influx of young talent” but the leadership of the university is, as well.

Indiana Athletic Director Fred Glass said recently that Miller’s recruiting haul for the class of 2018, which featured three players on the Indiana All-Star squad (Mr. Basketball Romeo Langford, guard Robert Phinisee and forward Damezi Anderson) was historical from his perspective.

“We’re very excited about Romeo,” Glass said, “but the balance of the class also, which was the number one recruiting class in the Big Ten and number seven nationally.

“It’s sort of amazing to me but we will have three kids on the Indiana All-Star team and that is only the second time that we’ve had that many kids on the All-Star team in 29 years.”

Those Hoosier recruits earned a split with Kentucky last week in the annual series and Langford had a strong showing in Saturday’s 109-81 beatdown of Kentucky.

The 6-foot-5 athlete hit 7 of 13 shots (2 of 5 from 3-point range) and finished with team-highs of 22 points, eight boards, four assists, and three steals.

In an earlier game against the Indiana Junior All-Stars, Langford hit 7 of 16 shots and tallied a double-double with 26 points and 11 boards.

In that game, Phinisee had 11 points (4 of 9 shooting) to go with six rebounds and five assists, while Anderson scored 16 points and also grabbed six boards while passing for three assists.

“Across the state,” Glass said, “there is a real buzz and enthusiasm. I was already thrilled with this class with the people that Archie had been able to attract. But then, Romeo was the cherry on the sundae.”

Those three All-Stars will move onto campus with fellow freshmen Jake Forrester (6-foot-8, forward, Harrisburg, Penn.) and Jerome Hunter (6-foot-7, forward, Pickerington, Ohio).

“It feels like only yesterday where we were getting all of the Indiana kids,” Glass said, “but it has been longer than just yesterday. Archie is really turning that around.”

Time for Thompson

Lost in the euphoria of the 2018 recruiting class is the addition of 2017 recruit Race Thompson next season after he spent last season as a redshirt.

Thompson reclassified and came to Bloomington a year earlier than expected.

“Race really took advantage of his redshirt season,” Miller said. “He took advantage of the physical development. The difference between him graduating from high school right now and him going through the nine months in our strength and conditioning program and then also practicing every day that is a big advantage for a guy like him.”

The 6-foot-8 forward is expected to compete for minutes behind senior Juwan Morgan and Fitzner at the “4” spot this coming season.

“He knows how we practice and how we work out,” Miller said. “He’s familiar with all of that. He didn’t have the pressure of having to play, so being in practice every day and working on his game, going against first-team guys, I think he got a lot better. But he has a long way to go.”

For more on college basketball, follow Tom Davis on Twitter at Tom101010, Facebook at Thomas Davis, and Instagram at tomdavis101010.

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