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Indiana basketball squad already showing cohesion, leadership through youth camp appearance

Indiana University senior forward Juwan Morgan poses for a photo with a young camper at Yogi Ferrell's youth camp at Park Tudor High School Sunday in Indianapolis. Ferrell is a former Hoosier guard, who recently signed a new contract with the NBA's Sacramento Kings. Morgan was one of several current Hoosier players that made an appearance at the camp. (Photo courtesy of Facebook post by Robert Ross Burch)
Indiana University men's basketball players (from left) Evan Fitzner, Romeo Langford, Robert Phinisee, Juwan Morgan, former Hoosier guard Yogi Ferrell, Jake Forrester, and Damezi Anderson pose for a photo with a young camper at Yogi Ferrell's youth camp at Park Tudor High School Sunday in Indianapolis. Ferrell is a former Hoosier guard, who recently signed a new contract with the NBA's Sacramento Kings. (Photo courtesy of Facebook post by Robert Ross Burch)

A new college basketball coach can hope that his team evolves into a tight-knight group that gets along well with one another. However, the truth is, he/she never really knows for sure what will happen with a group until time unfolds.

Second-year Indiana University men’s basketball coach Archie Miller got a glimpse of how his student-athletes would grow together through oft-trying times last season.

“They’ve been a great group from day one on campus until right now,” Miller said late this past season. “They’ve been unbelievably coachable. They go to work every single day. All of them had some moments where they’ve had some downs and they never went away from it.

“Sometimes when you lose some games early in the season, guys can listen to the outside clutter and sort of fight the process. Those guys are all about helping the process continue to go.”

That positive mindset has carried over into this off-season and it was on display Sunday through social media posts.

Former Hoosier guard Yogi Ferrell conducted the second of two days of a youth camp at his alma mater, Park Tudor High School in Indianapolis, and several current Hoosier players showed up to help with the event.

One of those current Hoosier players was senior forward Juwan Morgan and his showing leadership in doing such an act as Sunday’s isn’t surprising to Miller, who spoke on the topic this spring.

“It’s difficult to bring in such a young group, with five freshmen,” Miller said of this coming season. “Having five freshmen come into the fold and having to depend on some of these guys early, that is going to be unique. That is why you need your older guys, at least your one-year returners, to be rock solid in what you are doing every day.”

Photos posted on social media showed incoming freshmen Romeo Langford, Rob Phinisee, Damezi Anderson, and Jake Forrester all at Ferrell’s camp along with Morgan and graduate transfer Evan Fitzner.

“I feel like our returners,” Miller said of his team, “have really set themselves up to be a group that people can look at and say ‘This is how we do it.'”

Miller praised last year’s graduating class for showing leadership from “day one” during this past season and Morgan has picked up where guys like Robert Johnson and Collin Hartman left off.

Morgan told Miller this spring that he was anxious to get the entire 2018-19 squad in Bloomington in order to begin the growth process.

“Talking to Juwan,” Miller said at the time, “he is motivated to get the freshmen here and get rolling. That is something that is exciting for our staff, because last year at this time, it was all new. It is not as new now, which is a good thing.”

The presence of Langford Sunday was impressive due to the inordinate amount of attention that the 2018 Indiana Mr. Basketball has received over the past few months since committing to the Hoosiers, as compared to the rest of the incoming recruiting class. However, Miller said this spring that Langford has always been about blending in for the good of the program.

“Romeo is a great teammate,” Miller said. “He’s always been about winning. I think as he is coming into the fold he is ready to get to work with the other guys. We’re going to put him, and all of our guys, into an environment where they are pushing it, they are getting better, and at the same time, we want to see some competition this summer.

“We want to see how these guys work together and fit together is going to be fun and I think Romeo will handle that fine.”

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

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