Indiana University men's basketball coach Archie Miller is not messing around.
Not only did Miller jump hard into the recruiting of South Bend Riley's Damezi Anderson, a player from a region where IU rarely lands a prospect, he went one better. He landed Anderson, a player most recruiting analysts said was a strong possibility for Purdue.
That's one way a new IU coach can bring that rivalry back to a boil.
Miller had quite a stretch of 24 hours in the recruiting game, securing Minneapolis' Race Thompson on Sunday, and then following up with commitments from Anderson and Pickerington, Ohio's Jerome Hunter on Monday afternoon. All are generally considered forwards (some have Anderson as a guard), although it's silly in today's basketball game to even label players by position. It's a game of five players with different sizes but interchangeable skills these days.
For Miller to land three Top 100-ranked recruits in a 24-hour period would be impressive in its own right.
But it sent a message about the program's momentum when Miller and staff were able to land Anderson along with Thompson and Hunter.
The Hoosiers have only recruited him since last month while Purdue had previously offered him a scholarship. The Boilers were thought to be battling Michigan for Anderson.
“We thought it would be the right fit,” Anderson told the South Bend Tribune about his family-directed decision. “It was a stressful process. I felt like IU was the best for me.”
Thompson, the first recruit Miller landed on Sunday, was a bit of a coup, too.
A 6-foot-8 power forward, Thompson is the son of former University of Minnesota running back Darrell Thompson. Minnesota, along with Iowa State, was recruiting Thompson hard. But Miller made Thompson one of his first major priorities in the recruiting trail and pushed to pull him in.
Thompson announced he will seek to reclassify from the class of 2018 to the class of 2017, enroll at IU this fall and be redshirted. That will allow him to build strength and learn the Miller system.
According to the 247Sports recruiting site, Hunter (19.8 ppg last season) is the No. 60 recruit in the class of 2018, Thompson (19.6 ppg) is No. 86 and Anderson (24 ppg) is No. 91.
Now, we all know rankings are subjective and that some high ranked players will struggle in college while lower ranked players will soar.
But the fact Miller landed three of the players he has targeted indicates momentum in the Hoosiers' early recruiting stages. One commitment can lead to another, since so many players are so familiar with each other via the AAU circuit.
The ongoing question, of course, is whether these three recruits end up as merely the prelude to Miller's biggest success.
New Albany's Romeo Langford sits atop the IU wish list, of course, as he is ranked as one of the Top 5 players in the country (No. 5 by 247Sports). He's also a shooting guard, which is a high priority for the Hoosiers moving forward.
Also among the possible targets is No. 114 Robert Phinisee of Lafayette's McCutcheon.
If Miller lands Langford, that could be as good as a contract extension – not that he needs one – because he would be landing the likely Mr. Basketball and perhaps as once-in-a-decade player.
With the addition of Thompson, Hunter and Anderson, Miller now has some future teammates to sell next time he's in Langford's ear.
Perception has always been a big part of the recruiting game. Is your program perceived to be on the upswing? Is your program perceived to be producing championships and NBA draft picks, not necessarily in that order (from a recruit's perspective)?
Miller's big Sunday and Monday in the commitment game should lead to a perception of an upswing at IU.
It's a good time to be Miller. The new coach is making waves, and fighting for recruits.
He's winning some of those summer gym fights, too, which should lead to some winters of content for the Hoosiers down the road.
This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Reggie Hayes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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