BLOOMINGTON – Archie Miller isn't messing around about recruiting the state of Indiana hard.
Miller is an Indiana University basketball coach on a mission to lock down some of the state's best players.
For the Class of 2018, it's New Albany's Romeo Langford, rated No. 3 nationally.
For the Class of 2019, it's North Side's Keion Brooks, rated in the top-20 nationally.
Oh, and a whole bunch of other guys.
Miller's recruiting started by locking in the three players who had committed last fall under former coach Tom Crean — forwards Justin Smith and Clifton Moore, and guard Al Durham.
After that, it was hitting the Hoosier state by storm.
“Once we were done with that class and they were solidified, we had three days left and we spent them in the state,” Miller said. “We were able to hit multiple high schools and coaches and say hello.
“I think (the reception) has been very positive. I think the high school coaches in Indiana would love for Indiana to be good every time, and I don't anticipate that changing.”
Miller and his staff of Tom Ostrom, Ed Schilling and Bruiser Flint tried to quickly set a tone that, if you play basketball in the state of Indiana, Bloomington is the place to be.
“You build kind of from the inside out,” Ostrom said, “and you start in this great state with the great coaching and the great players. Did we hit every school in the state? Obviously, we didn't. But we tried our best to get as many as we can, and we'll continue to do that.
“You build equity in the relationships. Whether a coach has a player that's good enough to (play here) or not, you treat them right. They're always welcome to come to practice. They're welcome to come to games. You embrace them with open arms whether they have good players or not, and show a lot of respect.
“The coaching in this state is unbelievable. It's as good as it gets. The talent is as good as it gets. You start there.”
Miller and his staff aren't limiting themselves to just in-state prospects.
Coaches were allowed to recruit for 10 days in the first half of April. They also have pair of weekend evaluation periods at the end of the month. The last one is this weekend, with major events in Indianapolis with Nike EYBL play, plus Under Armour and Adidas Spring Classic tourneys.
The hectic nature gets ratcheted up when you're just over a month into a new job.
“The two live periods are always a crap shoot,” Miller said. “When you change jobs, the landscape changes. These two evaluation weekends can become in many ways non-impactful if you're not organized because you're just looking at hundreds and hundreds of kids. You have to be focused.
“If it was a normal year, you're going out there and you're, in many ways, evaluating young guys, but you're hammering in the guys you've recruited for a couple years. That's not the case now.
“We're having to make evaluations and we're also trying to get in on certain guys, and we're also trying to do a great job with the underclass people as much as we can before we see them in July and get them to campus in June.
“We want to be efficient. Stay with the guys that we like, and then continue to evaluate the young guys. As we continue to get more information on some guys that stand out that maybe we weren't aware of, you kind of play it by ear.”
Indiana projects to have a big recruiting class in 2018 with as many as five scholarships available.
“It's a big class for us,”Miller said. “We're going to have a lot of opportunity on the floor for people coming in that class. So we're attractive right now. We just have to be very, very smart and make sure that we're not wasting a lot of time.”
Ultimately, you need the right fit, as a player and as a person.
“You have to have a level of talent to play at Indiana and the Big Ten to succeed,” Ostrom said. “But you also have to find a guy who the coaching staff, and most importantly Coach Miller connects with, and who will fit and mesh with his personality. I think that's really important.
“Things like hard work and character and passion, those are all talents as well. It's not just about running and jumping and shooting, which are very important. Obviously, someone who embraces expectations and the community of the Indiana Hoosiers.”
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