With 2018 class, Miller living true to “inside-out” recruiting

For the first time since 2011, Indiana’s Mr. Basketball is headed to Bloomington.

And by landing a commitment from New Albany star Romeo Langford on Monday, Archie Miller is making good on his promise.

When he took the job as Indiana basketball coach last March, Miller vowed to be different. He laid out an “inside-out” plan to recruiting, prioritizing pursuits of the state’s best players before reaching out to recruits around the region.

Miller’s 2018 recruiting haul, his first full class at Indiana, is evidence of the coach’s philosophy at work.

Of the five players set to join IU’s roster next season, three hail from Hoosier soil — Langford, four-star McCutcheon point guard Robert Phinisee and four-star South Bend Riley guard Damezi Anderson.

That trio of Hoosiers will be joined by four-star Ohio wing Jerome Hunter and three-star Pennsylvania forward Jake Forrester.

Combined, that group adds up to the No. 9 recruiting class in the nation — potentially IU’s first top-10 class since 2013, and only its third such class in the last decade, according to 247 Sports.

Already, IU signees are excited for what’s to come.

“(It will be) a brotherhood that’s going to be unstoppable on and off the court,” Anderson said.

Of course, those rankings won’t mean much once the games begin in November, but they are a sign of Indiana’s ability to connect with heralded homegrown talent early in the Miller era.

Langford’s commitment furthers the momentum Indiana is feeling in the state, while also providing evidence that IU is once again a serious player for local talent. Landing a player of Langford’s caliber could bode well for Indiana’s in-state priority targets in the 2019 class, including five-star Fort Wayne North Side wing Keion Brooks and five-star Center Grove big man Trayce Jackson-Davis.

And although Langford projects as a one-and-done type player, Indiana will surround him with foundational pieces expected to enhance the depth and overall talent of the team in the years to come.

As Langford became Miller’s top recruiting priority last spring, the IU coach kept another close eye on Phinisee. Both players were among the first recruits to receive visits from Miller in April 2017, each hosting Miller within days of one another.

IU has options at point guard next season, including Devonte Green and Al Durham, though Phinisee projects as Indiana’s point guard of the future.

“I think we have the tools to be a great backcourt, me and Phinisee,” Langford said of his new classmate. “I played against him in (the 2016 Class 4A state title game) and he’s a good player. We’re just ready to get there and get to work. We’re gonna have a lot of early mornings and late nights, I know that.”

Phinisee, too, is looking forward to having Langford play beside him.

“It means a lot,” Phinisee said. “He’s going to help take the program to the next level.”

Indeed, the 6-foot-6 Langford is a plug-and-play guard who will give Indiana the instant offense it lacked last season, fitting easily into a lineup that IU hopes will also include rising senior forward Juwan Morgan, who declared for the NBA Draft last month and has until May 30 to remove himself from the draft pool.

If and when Morgan returns, he won’t be burdened with carrying the Hoosiers like he did so often last season. Sharing the load will be Langford, IU’s first Mr. Basketball honoree since Cody Zeller, and perhaps the first in a wave of top-ranked in-state players to choose Indiana and its new staff.

“It means a lot,” Langford said of being Mr. Basketball at IU. “Indiana is a basketball state. Me being Mr. Basketball, I know that they’re looking forward to it. There hasn’t been that many Mr. Basketball (winners recently) that have gone to Indiana. I just can’t wait to go there and play in Assembly Hall.”

18 comments

  1. I think CAM and staff’s recruiting style was huge in bringing in Romeo and should serve well going forward. The reputation of being being very honest and straightforward with recruits couple with an ability to get the best out of his players, goes a long way. Kept a certain questionable coach south of the Ohio River out of the game.

  2. Don’t underestimate how important the violations of L’ville being revealed were to giving a new HC and staff a prominent position in the recruitment of RL. Romeo and his family were looking for something shiny when the sword was put to the Jurich/Pitino act. Miller and Schilling astutely executed magnifying their relationship to fill that void across the river. Sometimes when the 2 lines on the graph intersect good things happen.

    1. I think Romeo’s enamorment with Louisville waned prior to the violations. When he played for Patino on the US team they didn’t see eye to eye and there was some friction there. Talking with some around Romeo said that was when the cooling off on Louisville happened.

      1. Maybe I’m wrong on this but are you thinking if Calipari? I don’t recall Romeo playing for Pitino. He did play for Calipari and it was a bad experience for everyone involved.

        1. Yes you are correct about it being Calipari and your post prompted my recall. Now I won’t have to research. The lines did intersect.

  3. There is always a part of me that simply hopes he loves the Indiana brand. He longs to have his name part of a team forever associated with another piece of Indiana cloth hanging above McCracken. He wants to be an integral piece of ending a 30 year drought. He may be from the left toe of our borders, but he is 100% Indiana. I want the things unspoken in his heart to be the main driving force. The things unspoken are always the greatest force….Inside out has nothing to do with geography. There have been Indiana kids who should not have worn the candy stripes. There have been plenty of potential recruits outside of our borders who would have embodied the spirit of the candy stripes far beyond some locals who have donned the colors.
    The “inside” is what’s in the heart….and it’s too powerful to turn into cheap talk and slogans. We don’t need saviors. We need fires to glow again well “outside” and beyond our borders due to what is unmistakable love for the game and the jersey. Our name has been far too long cheapened and used to further careers by those without the sincere embodiment of what it takes to be a Hoosier.
    Those things are never defined by borders. Our country is a land of immigrants made one by the sincere belief in equal pursuits to happiness, life and liberty. I like to believe wearing the Hoosier jersey goes beyond a border. It’s a sincere belief to preserve what is left in a humble game where five can be more collectively than one can ever boast from his own stage. The game be our flame and our basketball liberty to be equal for a very short while. That is America. That is Indiana Basketball.

  4. Heard a Dakich interview with Romeo today….Romeo said he had no problems with Calipari. Romeo actually complimented Calipari as a person and a coach.
    How much of that you want to believe is up to you….It sounded like the issues were more between Romeo’s dad and Calipari. I didn’t totally pick up on what the issues were…
    Hardly seems smart for Romeo to dis Calipari anyway when two of our assistants have worked under him and viewed him as a great mentor.

  5. Regardless of how the autopsy analysis plays or played out, Coach Miller and his staff have done an outstanding job. IU basketball appears to be in very capable hands for the first time in seemingly forever. This camper is very happy!

  6. I too have the utmost confidence in HC Miller. The commitment of RL is euphoric to IUBB fans and magnified by L’ville present reputation. But I remember a similar euphoria when Cody Zeller said yes. Recruiting is like shaving, you have to do it everyday, or you’re a bum. Every Hoosier I know thinks Tom Crean is a bum. So Romeo has given Miller and his staff tremendous credibility in the state. Much like Crean had after CZ and for some reason refused to exploit it. I do not envision any kind of nightmare in which Miller becomes a bum. But I’m going to keep a discerning eye.

    1. HC,

      I agree with your take but I see something very different in Archie. He has the ability to do more with less which his predecessor did not. The only question I have is what will he do when he has more, will he be equally effective with the new found talent riches? Track record says yes, but we shall see. I think one think which will benefit Archie is his very disciplined approach to basketball.

      The Miller defensive strategy makes one reminisce about the hamburger give a way days of RMK lore. The offense is built on taking care of the ball and making your opportunities count. Great approach when you don’t have an abundance of offensive talent, fantastic when you do. I would be surprised to see any of the TC style coaching meltdowns which severely hampered recruiting nor the burning of instate recruiting bridges.

      Like you I am very pleased with Archie’s first recruiting year, the big question is what can he do for an encore and will this be an annual event going forward? If so, then maybe happy days really are here again!

      1. Yes, but you also need to give credit to Crean for being able to do less with more…

        1. How is Larry Bird II doing out at Washington State? Inquiring minds want to know…

          1. Everyone else is transferring out… pretty sure he’s staying. I can’t stand Ernie Kent’s offense, and apparently he wasn’t as much of a player’s coach as he was made out to be, but there will be lots of minutes available next year for him and they love to shoot the 3, so he could put up some numbers (on a real bad team).

          2. How are things in Maine…? It’s been over twenty years since my wife and I had actually thought of moving there. Wasn’t there long enough to see a lot….My favorite stop was the Freeport Inn Cafe. Still the best breakfast I’ve ever had….I’m sure a lot has changed. I also loved the little town of Damariscotta.
            Man, I lost track. Your son is probably almost two….? Hope you are enjoying fatherhood.

          3. Yep… turns 5 this month. Hes a little hellion, but when i turned on the Rockets game and he saw the red jerseys he said, “Go Hoosiers”… so he has that going for him.

          4. Five!? Wow. Are you sure he just didn’t identify Eric Gordon….when said “Go Hoosiers!”…?

            Victor sure looked spiffy filling in for Kenny Smith…He did a nice job too. I think that suit made more than me last year.

            In other news…Did you see all the empty seats in the GSW @ Pelicans game? Attendance is dropping off a cliff in all major sporting events. How important will any of it be in 15 years? The money may be in the television contracts, but what will happen to the passion to play any game as the noise and the crowds continue to thin? Why are so many becoming disinterested? Is it the increasing disconnect to the exorbitant wealth? Is it the multitude of options to engage with the world while on your phone or device(albeit a deceptive and severely narrowed encounter)? Are the eyes and ears simply so bombarded that nothing can be the “it place” to be on a weekend? Some believe capitalism has collapsed on itself…Maybe our entertainment options are imploding the same? It may be the trains of privilege hitting the walls of disconnect…What symbols are left for all to have common passions and identify?
            People thought the circus would last forever too…..

  7. Cody Zeller was the worst thing to ever happen to IU…His recruitment allowed an extremely challenged “coach” to dupe an already very desperate and naive fan base. But that’s what con artists do. They are experts at finding a niche in a population to exploit/court/bamboozle. Crean nailed the IU “base” …..He was given extended validation by those who began the “everything hinges on Cody” campaigns.
    The only thing that hinged on Cody were the opportunities to come for a slew of raw athletes Crean needs to make any real name for himself. The phenoms from every corner of the globe with low b-ball IQ’s and oodles of athleticism were then given carte blanche to exploit Indiana for their personal development/podium/attractiveness to NBA agents.
    Meanwhile, 30 million down the tubes for a con artist who pulled the strings of a naive fan base with witch hunts, ideology/pious proclamations, reunions, collectors video tapes, t-shirts, slogans, infantile basketball jargon; one massive nest of empty BS putting our program 10 more years out from getting anywhere near a Final Four.

    Archie Miller doesn’t need to exploit the fan base. We’re just as naive as ever..and we can easily be duped by a con artist again. But Archie didn’t take the gig with those intentions. He recruits based on his own ability to teach the game to the recruit. It’s not fore every recruit because the game supersedes the individual as center of infatuation. The knowledge of the game is the “sell” to the top recruit rather than the gushing adulation. Humility is the ingredient to tempt and challenge a young man to make his team better because of his skills. Archie doesn’t need the infantile jargon or ideologies to sell those things that embody the candy stripes and unique love for basketball forever a part of our state. He won’t be combative to questions from reporters. He’ll be accountable for the classroom of basketball. He is is the furthest thing from a carnival act.

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