Durham remains committed to Indiana after Thursday meeting

Al Durham wants to be a Hoosier.

The three-star Georgia guard is keeping his commitment to Indiana following last month’s coaching change, his father, Al Sr., told The Herald-Times on Thursday night. Durham requested to be released from his signed National Letter of Intent on March 20, four days after Indiana fired former coach Tom Crean.

But after new coach Archie Miller personally visited Durham and his family on Thursday, Durham is comfortable and excited to remain a Hoosier.

“He and Al went over some film from when he coached at Dayton and the way he used his guards,” Al Sr. said. “He fits right in with the type of guards he had at Dayton and the way he developed them and was able to be successful in his system. He fits perfectly, and once again, I can tell everybody it’s still Indiana basketball. It’s still Indiana basketball and, if they want you, it’s hard to say no to that — especially when you have a good coach like Archie.

“He knows a lot of the same people I know. I’ve been in (the travel circuit) for a long time, so I got the stamp of approval with everyone I talked to. It was just about Al. Al wanted to feel comfortable and talk to him.”

During the past season, Durham was the most visible IU signee at games near and far. He watched the Hoosiers beat Ohio State in Columbus on March 4 and was also in attendance for IU’s season-ending National Invitation Tournament loss at Georgia Tech on March 14.

One of Miller’s first acts as Indiana basketball coach was to reach out to Durham and his family mere hours after he was announced as the program’s new leader on March 25.

“Anybody who’s been doing this awhile knows how this recruiting thing goes,” Al Sr. said. “A lot of it is dealing with the coach. Crean was fired and, for us, that was a major blow. You just don’t want to be stuck with whoever they hire, if it wasn’t a good hire. Al wanted the freedom to make a different decision. That’s why the whole release was requested. We requested before Archie got there. We just wanted to make sure we had options, just in case. That’s why we always said Indiana was still in the picture.”

Durham was the first player to commit to IU’s 2017 class, picking the Hoosiers after developing strong relationships with Crean and former assistant Chuck Martin.

Durham is ranked No. 160 overall in 247 Sports’s list of recruits for 2017. The same service considers him the No. 33 overall point guard and the No. 14 player in the state of Georgia.

Durham’s decision to remain signed means the Hoosiers will continue to deal with a numbers crunch with next season’s roster.

Indiana currently has 16 players in the mix for the 13 scholarships allowed, per NCAA rules.

There are, of course, moving parts still in the equation

James Blackmon Jr. is expected to officially declare for the NBA Draft and test his stock, though he’s not expected to hire an agent. Meanwhile, teammates OG Anunoby and Thomas Bryant are also considering professional futures.

Indiana could still lose four-star signee Clifton Moore, a 6-foot-10 forward who also requested his release from a signed NLI. Four-star wing Justin Smith is expected to remain signed with IU.

Just like Durham.

“Archie did a real good job,” Al Sr. said. “He called him immediately after it was announced. He checked in with him each day and chopped it up with him, and I think the final nail in the coffin was when he came out to sit down and talk to him about what his plan is and how he fits. The fact that Archie really, really watched him over the summer and knew key games when he was in the EYBL (spring and summer league), he watched him and made him a priority, just like he said.”

29 comments

  1. It’s so absolutely freeing…..I’ve never been more proud of my university. The trends in this country are to allow political correctness and pious frauds to rule the day. Not at Indiana. It took them nine years too long, but Tartuffe is gone.
    Gone are the nine years of smothering our humble love of hoops with his thick overworked tongue. Gone are the nine years of horrific basketball and record-shattering turnovers. Gone are the nine years of always falling back into the soft arms of a Sampson excuse. Gone will be the ducking of a storied rivalry game against Kentucky. Gone will be the nauseating diet of listening to judgments instead of a coach merely being a basketball coach. Gone will be the non-conference opponents like Sweet Pickle Presbyterian State and Christ’s Cologne College.

    Indiana Basketball is free, dude. We have gone Kelly Clarkson…We can breathe for the first time.

  2. And believe me, this was not a Fred Flintstone decision.
    Fred had no choice. This was the real “Hoosier Rising”…and it’s not available on DVD.
    It was ‘make a move’ time instead of make another short shorts history tape. You could call it a “movement” of a different order, or lose that cushy AD job Tom Crean gave you in the “everything hinges” behind closed doors caddyshack committee room nine years ago.

    Days of slogans gone. BS dog no longer waves the basketball tail. Enter days of action. Basketball back in the front seat of the car. Whiny coaches and whiny players…? Follow the imposter out the door.

  3. This is encouraging news. Not to be cynical, but it must have become obvious once Archie reached out to him that Durham was not going to find a better opportunity than to play for this coach and for this level of basketball program. Now, we need to lock down the other two recruits and find out which veterans will stay and which will depart for the NBA.

  4. Justin Smith never asked for a release from his NLOI! He has been 100% loyal to Indiana Basketball! Archie needs to talk with Moore to “re-get his commitment. Perhaps our new assistant coach Bruiser can use his Philly connections to help.

  5. BP, I could not agree more about the Moore situation comment. There will not be a better “best time” in the Miller tenure to manage the roster than to set the standard for the future of IUBB during this, his initial, early off season. The quicker this becomes his roster the sooner we see the brand of Miller burnt into the program the less likely for negative roster changes taking place in the future. So far so good and no complaints from fans like me.

  6. I am of the opinion that CAM should, in the kindest way possible, tell they three guys contemplating going pro that they need to decide whether they want to be Hoosiers next season or not. He has a team to build.

    If I were a teammate it would not instill confidence that those guys will put it on the line come crunch time if they can’t even decide whether they want to be Hoosiers or not.

    Fish or cut bait.

    In the words of John Elway (among others), “Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make.”

  7. Chet, as an IU fan, I understand the way you feel, but I respectfully disagree. These young men and their families deserve time to figure out what is in their best interests. And there is a lot at stake! Getting a large sum of money immediately or continuing their education while developing their skills? These young men don’t have control of the process or the timing; it is controlled by others (NBA people, NCAA, etc.). Thinking selfishly from an IU fan’s perspective, there’s too much talent and experience at stake for Archie to apply pressure and risk forcing some or all of these three players to leave prematurely. Plus, if word got out that Archie was forcing their decision before they had time to let the process play out, that could be detrimental to his reputation and his ability to recruit the best talent in the future. Universities exist for the benefit of students, including student-athletes. I’m confident Archie will do his best to advise these three young men to do what is in their best interests, and that most of them will ultimately decide that playing another year at IU is the right decision. It is frustrating for us fans, but it’s really the only way Archie can manage this situation.

    1. Sure, I get that. The points you make are certainly valid.

      Let’s keep in mind that this decision did not suddenly appear a couple weeks ago. I’m a planner. I try to be prepared for as many eventualities as is reasonable. I would have damn sure gathered a ton of information and advice a long time ago. I wouldn’t be making such a decision based upon the events of a few weeks. How on Earth could JBJ not know exactly where he stands with the NBA and other pro leagues? I find that hard to imagine. I’ll bet his dad has two dozen scouts on speed dial.

      Suppose one, or all, these guys twiddle their thumbs until after commitments are made to the new recruits and then decide they aren’t ready (IMHO, none of these guys are). Who takes the hit? The guy who declared for the NBA draft but hedged their bet or the guy who signed the letter of intent?

      I’m extremely pleased that Archie is not going to go the over sign route. I always thought that was stupid because, even when it works out fine, it creates a problem where none existed before and for no good reason.

      I’m sure Archie will handle this just fine but I still feel that, when a kid declares for the draft, the school should have the right to do the same and consider him ‘declared for the draft’.

      That’s how it works in most real world situations. Employers aren’t going to hold your job for you while you head off to actively seeking a better situation. Aren’t universities supposed to be preparing young adults for that?

      Instead, they are told that they get to operate by a different set of rules because they are special. Let them try that stuff while receiving an academic scholarship/fellowship. You wouldn’t have to hire an agent for that to disappear in a heartbeat.

      Again, I’m not trying to dispute your points. They are all very reasonable. I just think we’ve observed too many episodes of bad behavior because basketball and football players are treated with a sense of entitlement.

      Just ask Todd Leary.

  8. Upchuck! These 3 know as well as the rest of us where they stand in relationship to NBA talent about their future best interest. The 3 are, because of their “special” status less Miller’s players than anyone else on the roster or any soon to be added. Management of the roster must be exercised by the HC full time. When recruits like Durham, Smith and Moore are in the wings the clock cannot be allowed to run out. “Fish or cut bait” is not harsh management, just decisive management action.

  9. Chet the NCAA mandates that each recruit who has signed a NLOI must get a scholarship! Thus Smith and Durham are “IN”! The same is true for Moore if he is not released! The remaining 13 players then “sort out” the 10 scholarships.

  10. There is plenty of time for the NBA hopefuls to decide. With no agent hired they have until mid-May.

  11. Hoosier Clarion,
    I love your management philosophy. These are young adults. To treat them with kid gloves is ridiculous and unfair to the rest of the team and future players. Fish or cut bait is absolutely the right stance to take. Leave the rest for wishy- washy losers.

  12. I see what you’re saying, but you have to let these kids go through this process, or you’ll never get another NBA prospect to play in assembly hall again. Totally understand your reasoning, it isn’t wrong, but it isn’t practical. This is why these guys get $4 mil per year.

    Also, these coaches are part of the feedback/evaluation loop too. Kids and their families take council in their coaches. I’m pretty sure CAM (and all the other manly college coaches) knows a lot earlier than we do in the public the odds of a kid staying in the draft or not.

  13. If this were the first year these players and their families were entertaining the idea of the NBA
    draft then it would be a different story. In most cases it’s not. They have been through this process before. At some point it’s time to ” fish or cut bait.”

  14. Maybe strong on principle, but short on upside. What do you gain by demanding they make a decision? Upside is practically zero. Essentially you’re just telling them to leave.

    So the result is “or cut bait.”

  15. I’m with you, Double Down…

    Although, there may be less “downside” to cutting bait with guys who came in with quite the low b-ball IQ. Sure, Archie can reformulate/reboot/ reteach….but I’m not sure how quickly you exorcise the demon hoops out of whiners with prima donna attitudes atop their poor fundamentals. A lot of these guys were very low bar defensive players with sloppy understanding of a brand of team ball. Even if they come back, you’ve only got one season to cleanse the regression of skills sets that happened under Crean…and then begin to build on the basics.

    I would still prefer all of our roster returning, but I’m not too worried about Archie selling his vision to some rather higher quality, overlooked, higher b-ball IQ talent uncommitted(that’s pretty much what he likely already had to do at Dayton).
    This isn’t like Duke, UK, MSU “cutting bait” ….The scenario doesn’t exist because their McDonald’s All-Americans were legit high IQ ballers when they stepped on campus….and don’t have to test waters.

  16. Bottom Line: Cutting bait in this instance may not be as ‘strong on principle’ as you may think because the loss of lower IQ ballers(some needing to shake off injury rust or be corrected of very bad habits) doesn’t easily counter the gains/opportunity cost of acquiring fundamentally sound/clean slate kids who may also buy into the new direction/brand of basketball Archie is planning.

    1. Priller. Sorry, everyone loves this guy, but he sucks. He shouldn’t take a D 1 scholarship anywhere. He’s a great guy. He got his degree. Time to go.

  17. DD, I say Coach Miller in his 1st preseason at IU has to strongly manage his roster to benefit recruiting. For that short time it is a limited window of opportunity. In the framework of that environment everyone can understand the fish or cut bait philosophy is a tool for a change of the future. A future prior to Miller we saw no promise in.

  18. …in other words in 90 days I’ll agree with everything you stated for the culture of IU BB recruiting…but like all HC’s to a new job(whether BB or FB)Miller must have his way to establish the personnel he wants for his program…

  19. Also did not IU get in some kind of jam from the NCAA over Priller not making enough progress in a specified amount of time for advancing successfully to a degree. Although I don’t know what that has to do with him staying or not.

  20. I was under the impression that, since TP took on a second major, he will not graduate in three years. Kudos to CTC for making that the norm.

  21. I hear you guys. I do. Archie talked about when he took that job at Dayton, he established the kind of basketball he wanted played. Stuck to his guns and communicated it clearly. A few of the upper-classmen didn’t buy in and cycled out (graduated or left).

    I’m sure there are a few folks who won’t buy in either. But Archie has been doing the same thing from day one he did at Dayton. He’s already working out with the team and they’re all getting an idea of what they’ll be in for.

    It’s been fashionable to hate on the upper classmen amongst the fanbase. However, if they all want to buy in, I think they’ll all get better and Indiana will win a lot of games. I’m sure Archie probably knows who and who isn’t going to buy in. AND, I agree, once you find out who the malcontents are, it is best to get them out of program as soon as possible. Archie has been there before and I trust he understands how to manage this appropriately.

    On that note, I think the player who will benefit the most from this is Thomas Bryant. I love his passion and he doesn’t lack toughness. He just needs to learn how to play the post. No one taught him. The previous system didn’t allow for a big man to post up and receive an entry pass. Guards didn’t know how to feed the post. So, why work on banging and getting beat up inside, when your guards are running in circles around the perimeter? Does anyone remember the Zeller years? We could hardly get him the ball down in the paint then. The one game where we did (against Michigan), Zeller tattooed his shoe print on Mitch McGary’s forehead.

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