Archie Miller laying blueprint for new era

Indiana basketball coach Archie Miller has been on the job for less than four months.

In that span, Miller has witnessed three former Hoosiers depart campus for life in professional basketball — OG Anunoby, Thomas Bryant and James Blackmon, Jr. Former scholarship player Grant Gelon also left town, informing the coaching staff he intended to transfer.

The aforementioned players are all losses to the program one way or another; Anunoby, Bryant and Blackmon were starters on the 2016-17 Indiana roster and Gelon, with development, may have become a decent rotational piece by his junior and senior seasons.

Nevertheless, small victories have been shuffled into the deck of cards that Miller was dealt.

Fifth-year senior Collin Hartman opted to return for his final season of eligibility.

Miller’s top assistant from Dayton, Tom Ostrom, followed Miller to Bloomington. Ostrom is rumored to have played a large role in the recruitment and recent commitment from Minneapolis area forward Race Thompson, who was originally a 2018 recruit but plans to reclassify to 2017 and enroll this fall with the intent to redshirt.

Ostrom’s role on the staff is of importance because it brings continuity to Miller’s coaching staff and its approach toward success on the basketball court. Ostrom was in the running to replace Miller as Dayton’s head coach before ultimately landing at IU.

Thompson’s commitment is significant for a number of reasons. One, Thompson is the first player to commit to Indiana under Miller’s guidance. Two, it marks the beginning of the Archie Miller recruiting era, in which after a couple seasons will see the Hoosier roster listed with only his players. The current roster, as it stands today, is compiled entirely of players recruited by former coach Tom Crean and his staff. Both the players and coaches are learning to adjust to one another ahead of the regular season. Finally, the commitment from Thompson set up what was a small flurry of victories for Miller and his program. I’ll get to that in a moment.

As Miller continued to build his coaching staff, he was able to pry former Indiana high school coach Ed Schilling away from UCLA. Schilling is respected across the state of Indiana and should be a major factor on the fertile recruiting trail not only in the state, but across the Midwest. He also coached former Indiana guard Yogi Ferrell at Park Tudor High School in Indianapolis.

Rounding out the coaching staff is Bruiser Flint. Formerly the head coach at Drexel University, Flint has strong ties to the east coast and comes from the John Calipari coaching tree.

Ostrom, Schilling and Flint make the case for one of the stronger coaching staffs in the Big Ten based on experience and they should provide Miller a solid foundation in recruiting, but also in scouting and game planning for opponents.

With his staff in tact, Miller soon pulled an ace out of his deck of cards when he retained the commitments from all three members of Indiana’s 2017 recruiting class. Guard Al Durham and forwards Justin Smith and Clifton Moore didn’t need much persuasion as what they saw in Miller was enough to reaffirm their pledge to Hoosier Nation.

But what Miller recently accomplished will ultimately be the first chapter of his legacy in Bloomington. Less than 18 hours after Thompson (247Sports Composite top-100 prospect) informed his potential suitors that he had chosen the Hoosiers, 2018 top-100 forward Jerome Hunter committed to IU.

Hours later, Indiana received word on a commitment from South Bend Riley forward and fellow top-100 recruit Damezi Anderson. What Hunter and Anderson bring to the program, along with Thompson, is not only local ties (Hunter is from Pickerington, Ohio, just outside of Columbus) but athleticism and competition.

If you think Miller isn’t preaching competition on his team, think again. Thompson stands at 6-foot-8 and 200 pounds, Hunter is listed at 6-7 and 185 and Anderson is currently 6-6 and 175 pounds. All three are forwards and will suit up for the first time in the fall of 2018.

Mix in junior Juwan Morgan, freshman Justin Smith and redshirt-junior Zach McRoberts, all whom project to also be on Indiana’s 2018-19 roster, and the battle for minutes at the wing position shall commence.

With five seniors on the upcoming season’s roster, Miller’s recruiting for 2018 isn’t done yet. One can expect at least two more commitments in the class, setting up what could be a potentially strong start to the new era of Indiana basketball.

Miller’s ability to build relationships in such a short period of time prove his blueprint to be successful off the court. November sets up Miller’s first chance to put that blueprint in motion on the court.

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