Jackson-Davis latest domino to fall Miller’s way

Romeo Langford was at the top of the list.

But Trayce Jackson-Davis wasn’t far behind.

One of Archie Miller’s first tasks upon his hiring as Indiana’s head coach in March 2017 was prioritizing his recruiting targets for the months — and years — ahead. Langford, the All-American from New Albany, naturally came first. At the same time, Miller began making inroads with the 6-foot-8 Center Grove big man for the 2019 signing class.

“We worked tirelessly,” Miller said.

For good reason.

Not only was Jackson-Davis a rising five-star talent, but Miller had a promise to uphold. In taking the IU job, Miller vowed to mine the state’s fertile recruiting grounds and bring the best players to Bloomington.

Landing Langford this past spring was a significant achievement for Miller and his staff, especially considering that it happened as the product of an accelerated recruitment. But Miller couldn’t stop there.

By signing Jackson-Davis — and four other highly-ranked native Hoosiers during his first year-and-a-half on the job — Miller has illustrated that in-state recruiting momentum is in his favor. Or, at least, he’s created that perception.

In the world of recruiting, perception is important, and it could go a long way for Miller as he aims to keep building upon his early gains.

“I think it continues to hopefully build confidence that the best want to come here,” Miller said. “That’s what we strived to do from day one, and we’re going to continue to strive for that as we continue to move forward, because that’s what makes the most sense.”

Of the seven players Miller has signed at Indiana, five hail from within the state borders. The IU coach seems to be enjoying a domino effect in recruiting, one that started with the summer 2017 commitments of South Bend native Damezi Anderson and Lafayette native Rob Phinisee, then continued with Langford’s high-profile commitment in April.

Langford, especially, has had a noticeable effect on IU’s efforts.

Not only did he seem to legitimize Indiana under Miller for a new era of recruits, he holds relationships with several of the state’s top prospects. Often those player-to-player interactions mean as much as those with the staff.

Just look at Jackson-Davis, who is now making it his mission to assist Miller in signing Fort Wayne wing Keion Brooks, a fellow five-star prospect who’s playing his senior season at La Lumiere.

“Romeo deciding to come here was a huge feather in the cap for our program. It’s a huge feather in the cap for our staff,” Miller said. “I would probably be a fool to think that kids aren’t looking at Romeo coming here as a positive. I think I know the underclassmen in the state are watching him. And Trayce and he and Rob have a good relationship, as does Armaan Franklin, (a Cathedral guard who signed with IU last month). They’ve all really connected in the last year and some change. It’s what you want. You want those guys to know each other, like each other, want to play with one another.”

Whether Langford and Jackson-Davis actually play with each other at Indiana remains to be seen.

It’s likely that Langford only spends one season in an IU uniform, making Jackson-Davis’ commitment that much more important. With Langford’s possible early departure for the NBA and Juwan Morgan’s impending graduation, Jackson-Davis could be the key piece to next year’s team.

He’s an athletic big, who is ranked as the No. 16 overall prospect nationally in the 2019 recruiting cycle. He averaged 22.3 points and 9.5 rebounds as a junior last season, then opened his senior season with a 29-point, 10-rebound effort against Franklin on Nov. 20.

Four days later, Miller and his three assistant coaches made the one-hour drive from Bloomington Franklin Central to watch Jackson-Davis in his second high school game of the year.

“It meant a lot,” Jackson-Davis said. “It meant they truly care about me. Sending all four coaches, that’s a pretty big deal. It meant a lot to me.”

And Jackson-Davis means a lot to Miller — both in terms of what he, too, could mean for IU’s future recruiting and what he can do to lift a Hoosiers team that will need him next season.

“He’s got a lot of upside coming to him,” Miller said. “Size. Athleticism. Length. Has got great hands. … Keeping guys here, playing here, is something that hopefully makes our job easy one day where you don’t have to work very hard — I don’t want to say work very hard — but you don’t have to really stretch yourself when there’s a great player (in the state).”

3 comments

  1. Another great get for Archie. He is certainly proving he can recruit the best in-state talent to IU.

    Forgive my outdated vernacular, but Will Jackson-Davis be used as IU’s Big in the paint, or will he be more of a stretch power-forward? I’ve seen him listed as both 6’9″ and 6’10”. When in doubt, I tend to believe the shorter of the two published heights. But he appears to have a very powerful build that will allow him to bang for rebounds and put-backs with anybody.

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