With trio of commits, IU recruiting on a roll

Archie Miller landed his first commitment as Indiana’s coach on Sunday evening.

By Monday afternoon, he picked up two more.

The Hoosiers are suddenly on a recruiting roll, accepting verbal commitments from three players ranked inside the national top 100 in the span of hours. Miller began his momentous Monday by taking a commitment from four-star Ohio wing Jerome Hunter. Approximately an hour later, four-star South Bend Riley wing Damezi Anderson came forward with his commitment to IU.

The pledges from Hunter and Anderson, both of whom are coveted prospects in the 2018 class, followed the commitment of four-star Minnesota forward Race Thompson on Sunday. Thompson was originally a member of the 2018 class, but has instead revealed plans to reclassify and join IU’s program as a redshirt player for the 2017 season.

And after a quiet start to the summer recruiting cycle, the Hoosiers are making noise in the Big Ten and around the country at the start of a new week.

Monday represented one of the early high points of Miller’s tenure, grabbing a pair of players in Hunter and Anderson who could develop into cornerstone players in the years to come. Hunter, a versatile small forward, is considered the No. 60 overall player in the 2018 recruiting class, the No. 15 player at his position and the No. 2 recruit from the state of Ohio in the 247 Sports Composite rankings.

Anderson, an athletic shooter, is considered the No. 91 overall player in 2018, the No. 25 small forward and the No. 3 recruit from the Hoosier state.

During his first four months on the job, Miller has spoken about his desire to prioritize the state’s top recruits in the 2018 class and beyond.

On Monday, Miller got one in Anderson.

“Damezi can really shoot the ball,” first-year Riley High School coach Eric Brand said. “I think if you can really shoot the ball, you can fit in just about any system. He liked the style of play, he liked what Coach Miller talked about with how they’re going to use him. I really think he wants to get up and down a little bit, and Damezi can find open shots and put the ball in the basket. I think he’s got a great opportunity, and I think IU’s getting a really good player.”

The 6-foot-7, 205-pound Anderson averaged 24 points and 7.6 rebounds as a junior for Riley, earning Northern Indiana Conference most valuable player honors.

Purdue was the first big offer for Anderson, who also considered offers from Michigan and Connecticut. Indiana, however, won this battle.

And as he prepares for his move to Bloomington during the next year, Anderson’s goal is to diversify his player profile and become more than a shooter on the wing.

“Everybody knows him as a shooter, but we want him to be a playmaker,” Brand said. “The ball’s going to be in his hands a lot. I want him not to just be able to shoot, but also be able to make the right plays because people are going to play different defenses. … At the next level, I think he’s going to be a guy that comes off screens and puts the ball on the floor a little bit. He can really stretch the defense.”

In that regard, so can Hunter.

A versatile, 6-foot-7 wing, Hunter should be able to play the two, three and four positions. He’s outstanding in transition, and can shoot from deep and rebound well, too.

As a high school junior, Hunter averaged 19.3 points and 10.9 rebounds per game for Pickerington North, earning Associated Press All-Central second team honors in Ohio’s Division I.

“I think it’s a great fit for Jerome,” Pickerington North coach Jason Bates said. “He’s a special player. He can play a multitude of ways and different styles. I know he’s excited about the fact that they get up and down the floor and play a fast-paced game. That’s what (Miller) is used to doing at Dayton. I know that, in particular, was appealing to Jerome.”

Hunter picked up his IU offer while in Bloomington for Indiana’s high school team camp last month. Originally a recruiting target of Miller’s while the coach was leading Dayton, Hunter has been a priority for the Hoosiers this summer.

Two days after receiving his offer from Miller, Hunter shaved his list of finalists to IU, Michigan, Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Xavier. That overture from Miller and his staff, followed by the attention the Hoosiers paid during the ensuing three weeks, meant a lot to Hunter.

“When we went to their team camp, it was really the impression that the campus made, and just the feel that he got from them,” Bates said. “Archie was at every one of our games when we came to the team camp. When Archie was at Dayton and (Hunter) got the offer, it was big to him at the time because it was one of his early offers.

“But when we all came to Indiana and saw the campus and saw the facilities and the school and saw Archie in that form and that capacity, then it just opened his eyes up a little bit. He felt like this is exactly what he’s looking for.”

Entering his senior year, Hunter’s goal is to sharpen his versatility. To Bates, that means understanding which skill to lean on in specific situations.

“We’ve always depended on him to score, but now it’s gonna be more about the whole entire game and attacking the game in all facets: rebounding, shooting, scoring and passing the ball,” Bates said. “He’s really improved with his passing and just seeing the floor. Playing the wing, he’ll be able to do that for us again this year.”

With Thompson taking IU’s final scholarship for 2017, and Hunter and Anderson becoming the first two members of the program’s 2018 class, the Hoosiers have some serious momentum in the all-important recruiting month of July.

Hunter and Anderson are the first members of a class that could have room for three more commitments. Wings like the two Indiana picked up Monday have been a priority for Miller in the current recruiting cycle. That much was clear when Miller extended an offer to Ben Davis rising senior Aaron Henry on Sunday night.

The Hoosiers still want to add a point guard in the 2018 class, prioritizing five-star Indiana native Darius Garland, who now lives in Tennessee, and McCutcheon standout Robert Phinisee.

Of course, IU’s crown jewel would come by landing New Albany sensation Romeo Langford, a five-star shooting guard who has his pick of schools nationally.

In the meantime, Indiana got its 2018 recruiting efforts rolling in earnest Monday, adding a pair of top-100 prospects and sending a jolt of excitement through the fan base for what’s to come in the future.

11 comments

  1. Can I get an “Amen” Brother? Looks like IU is back on the recruiting map. I was so happy when they landed Archie Miller. I think the man is going to be an absolute beast of a coach. He certainly has a very capable staff. Good initial returns on the recruiting front. No where to go but up!

  2. if Romeo will be a one and done recuirte why build ypur team around Romeo go after recuirte that will stay 2-3 years go iu.

  3. These three players are excellent players, with or without Romeo. The future of I U Basketball is on an upward path, thanks to Coach Miller and his coaching and support staff.

  4. Yes, these are very solid recruits. The difference in A.M. coaching must be and I am sure it will be 1. Teaching and coaching 2. Player development including attitude on off court 3. College philosophy (meaning even if players have NBA aspirations and most do at this level)
    they have to play college game first and have heads in IU system 4. Team mindset bringing structure and discipline to program. IU had 4 star recruits in past years under previous coaching staff but lacked in the areas noted to the point IU was struggling to get a 4 star. Can’t be that way at a school like IU. A couple bigs needed and should follow including a very high 4 star or 5 star in whatever position in the near future.

  5. What’s really interesting is that the kid from South Bend was a layup for Purdue and AM came in late and made it happen.

    Also, the kid from Columbus was practically bathed in Michigan gear.

    Considering how late they started, this is really big. Very impressed by CAM and staff. Hopefully they didn’t take a page out of Rick Patino’s “Techniques for Landing Big Recruits: Chapter 1 – Lots of Whores.”

    1. Too funny… I’m hoping you enlighten us with additional chapters in the future.

      Good start. These are the type of versatile players needed to build a program. Reminds me of OG and Morgan class. Now time to add the MickeyD AA…

      This era of basketball is ruled by versatile wing players. We don’t need much more than DD in the middle, and he should be here 3 more years. A beast of a college player whose game doesn’t really translate to the next level. So that being said, a PG and anyone 6’7″ or taller to go with Romeo, and we’re cookin.

  6. Great job Coach Archie and staff. I could not be more excited for IU! Well, actually, add Phinisee, Dort and Langford and I will jump over the moon!

  7. t- You nailed it.

    And to think Archie could land a top player from Mars(a.k.a. NW/Northern Indiana)….What’s up with that? I thought we always tried in the past but they just wanted to go to Michigan or Purdue?

    Thank God ….all the charades is over. Nice to have a coach again at IU.

  8. Great post DD. This is encouraging. And given how these young men are rated, I wonder if any of them will develop into first round draft picks. Who would have thought when they verbally committed to IU that Victor would become the second player picked in the draft or that O.G. would be a first round pick? I look forward to watching these guys develop and to see how far they go under Archie and staff’s guidence.

  9. I could care less where, if, and at what slot they’ll one day get drafted.
    What I care about is having a coach who can now build a team to collectively play above their individual accolades/skills.

    Archie will change the focus of IU Basketball away from being a mini NBA camp for a glamorous few
    Banner-driven is the new goal in town.
    Coaching unselfish play and protecting the ball(rather than averaging 20 turnovers) is the new game in town.
    Playing above the individual parts …and ridding the bones of tempered expectations is the new game in town.
    Accountability at the top is the new game in town. This coach will own the team’s performance.
    The Establishment is squirming….They could live with a few Hoosiers getting some NBA draft headlines. But now IU is poised to awake from a different sort of slumber.
    We are now far more than a sprinkling of dangerous talent. Goodbye cue card! Hello legit coach!
    Hope is the wind of change. It’s a strong wind that no ‘draft’ can compete.

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