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Indiana basketball coach Archie Miller to hit the road again in pursuit of Hoosier State talent

Indiana University men's basketball coach sits in the stands at Floyd Central High School to watch New Albany High School player Romeo Langford last season in Floyd Knobs. Langford ultimately signed with the Hoosiers in April. (By Tom Davis of News-Sentinel.com)
North Side junior Keion Brooks Jr. looks for a pass during a game at North Side against Homestead last season. (Photo by Dan Vance of news-sentinel.com)
Former Valparaiso High School guard Brandon Newman prepares to shoot a free throw for the Indiana Junior All-Stars during a game agaisnt their senior counterparts last month at New Albany High School. (By Tom Davis of News-Sentinel.com)
Cathedral High School player Armaan Franklin drives to the basket for the Indiana Junior All-Stars in a game last month at Trinity High School in Louisville against their Kentucky counterparts. (By Tom Davis of News-Sentinel.com)

Wednesday afternoon will mark the start of the second of three prospect evaluation periods in this oh-so-critical month for college basketball coaches to construct the future of their programs.

Second-year Indiana University coach Archie Miller has already laid a strong foundation with the retaining of the 2017 class that was signed under former Hoosier coach Tom Crean, as well as securing the highest-rated 2018 class within the Big Ten Conference. However, in order to maintain that positive momentum, he needs to add a strong 2019 class, and if he and his boss are true to their words, Miller’s diligence will be focused on athletes from this state.

“His inside-out (recruiting) strategy is really working,” Indiana University athletic director Fred Glass said this spring when discussing his coach.

Crean attacked the Hoosier State from a recruiting standpoint with ferocity early in his tenure, but as his time in Bloomington wore on he appeared to be less and less concerned about procuring “local” talent.

In Crean’s final five recruiting classes, he signed 24 players in total, but just four were from this state.

Miller almost matched that in 2018 alone.

“This is sort of amazing to me,” Glass beamed of the Hoosiers’ most recent recruiting class, “we had three kids on the Indiana All-Star squad that are Indiana University recruits and that is only the second time that we’ve had that many kids on the Indiana All-Star team in 29 years.

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

Miller landed the behemoth of all recruits in April when he beat out Kansas and Vanderbilt for Indiana Mr. Basketball Romeo Langford, however, in all likelihood, Langford’s time with the program won’t be long, so the long-term effect of his signing is debatable.

That is why the 2019 class elevates in importance.

The Hoosiers recently lost out on Iowa high school standout point guard DJ Carton, who committed to Ohio State but his fit with the Hoosiers was questionable anyway.

Indiana already has junior point guard Devonte Green, as well as freshman Robert Phinisee at that position.

The Hoosiers will graduate forwards Evan Fitzner and Juwan Morgan following next season, and guard/wing Langford is expected by many to turn professional after just one season with the Hoosiers. So filling those three positions should be the primary focus of Miller in this coming class.

Miller has been working feverishly in his recruitment of Center Grove High School athlete Trayce Jackson-Davis (6-foot-8) and Fort Wayne North Side star Keion Brooks Jr. (6-foot-6).

Those two would not only fit Miller’s philosophy of recruiting Indiana but also fill the holes left open by Fitzner and Morgan.

“Moving into the future and just recruiting for us,” Miller said last fall, “I said it from day one, recruiting at Indiana starts and stops with this state and it kind of moves itself out. I operate, or we’ve always operated, that distance from home is a great factor in deciding.”

The Hoosiers are in pursuit of plenty of other athletes across the eastern portion of the country, however, sticking close to home to fill Langford’s possible opening could be done by signing either Valparaiso native (and Monteverde Academy, Florida athlete) Brandon Newman or Cathedral High School player Armaan Franklin, each of whom Indiana is recruiting.

“There are unbelievable players within a three or four-hour radius of IU,” Miller said. “Once we get them to campus, the place sells itself. It’s an unbelievable place to represent.

“As time goes forward, we’ll continue to stay with that philosophy and try to get guys that can do what we’re asking them to do, that can play for our coaching staff, and fit in our style.”

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

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