Miller gives update on Jerome Hunter

EVANSVILLE — Indiana coach Archie Miller traveled to Evansville for a speech following the Hoosiers’ first fall workout, and he came with good news.

Redshirt freshman Jerome Hunter, a highly anticipated 6-foot-7 forward who sat out his first season in Bloomington due to a lower-body condition, seems to be progressing well following a surgery in November.

“Jerome finished our summer program, and he pretty much participated in everything we did. Very little setbacks,” Miller said. “Obviously, it’s a less intense program, just in terms of contact and all of the banging that goes into the actual season, but he’s getting ready to start off this fall with this same sort of program, where he continues to listen to the doctors and the plan they put on him from a rehab perspective.”

“He’s cleared, obviously, to do everything he can do with us. It’s just kind of a wait-and-see, day-by-day, each week, as we add things in the fall, or our preseason gets pretty intense, to see what he can handle. If he needs some time to step away, to rest, recover, whatever that may be, he’s got to be honest with that.”

Miller acknowledged during his speech at Evansville Harrison High School that Hunter’s condition was “odd” and “hard to explain.” But Miller is happy with how Hunter has mentally dealt with the condition, a surgery, and the subsequent rehab.

“He’s in a good way, personally,” Miller said, adding Hunter did a “nice job” in IU’s first fall workout. “He’s nervous. He’s anxious. He’s excited. It’s good to see a guy like him have that smile and that eagerness to be a part of what’s going on.”

(below is a recent video of Hunter working out)

Additional on Roberts

Miller was also asked about Mike Roberts, who last week was brought on as IU’s third assistant coach.

Roberts, who was the associate head coach at UNC-Greensboro for eight seasons, was a Bob Knight recruit and a Hoosier reserve until 2005.

“One, he’s a relentless worker,” Miller said, reviewing Roberts’ stops at Texas Tech as a grad assistant under Knight, and then his time at Cal. “He’s been involved in a lot, but he’s really a grinder in the way that he works. He also has a lot of toughness about him. He’s a competitive guy.”

Miller didn’t outline a specific role for Roberts, who was a forward as a player at 6-foot-9. Rather than saying Roberts would coach posts or guards, or focus more on the defensive or offensive end, Miller emphasized his versatility as a coach and recruiter.

He even mentioned how UNC-Greensboro was able to recruit and develop players from overseas.

“Recruiting is priority one, him being able to get his feet on the ground and then impact what we’re doing with his advantages and who he has at his fingertips,” Miller said. “And then his development, being able to work with different types of players, not just big guys.

“As he learns how we do things, our system, defensively, offensively, there are going to be some tweaks. But as we look at some things, Mike is going to have a hand in everything that we do.”

Highlights from speech

There were a few moments of levity as Miller spoke with the audience for the Shoulders Family Lecture Series.

He admitted the Hoosiers need to be better shooters in 2019-20, talking about how he would rib his players for needing a myriad of drills to improve that area.

“I’m telling you right now, I can probably beat you in this suit and these pants,” said Miller, who was dressed in a gray sport coat and dark dress pants.

But he did review his returning roster, saying “I like ‘em. I really do.”

He started with two seniors, guard Devonte Green and center De’Ron Davis, as potential focal points of the offense.

First, Green: “In years past you’ve tried to tame him and control him and make him something that at times you want him to be, and at times he can really explode and do some things that everyone is like ‘Wow.’ He is going to need to be that guy more than he is the other guy for us this year.

“He’s going to have to shoot the ball, score the ball, and make a lot of plays. And I’m sure he’s very disappointed in me saying that publicly right now.”

That elicited some laughter from the crowd.

“When he gets his opportunity to take advantage of the rope, he takes all the rope he can get,” Miller said.

With Davis, he pointed to his past Achilles injury, and then an ankle issue, and his struggles recovering last season. Once he’s at full strength, Davis could be at the center of an offense that works more inside-out.

“He’s over the injury. Now it’s getting him into the best shape of his life,” Miller said. “And if he does that, he’ll have the best year of his career, which we just talked about to him today.

“As we head toward Nov. 1, the slimmest he can be and the most agile he can be is going to be the best him.”

Miller also mentioned 6-7 junior Justin Smith as a potential All-Big Ten defender with his combination of length and athleticism.

Miller was also high on sophomore point guard Rob Phinisee, who he said was advanced beyond what he expected as a freshman but was “stripped of his confidence” following a concussion.

“He fought through it,” Miller said. “He’s now going into that second year with all those minutes and all that experience. You hope he’s looked at as a veteran guy.”

3 comments

  1. Good to hear something positive going on for this young man. This promising baller and the rest of the team have had more than enough snakebite luck.

  2. I agree HC. It’s about time the breaks start going Archie’s way. And I’m really happy for Hunter. My guess is that he now appreciates his opportunity more than ever, and will never take it for granted.

    Stay health Mr. Hunter, and have a great career.

  3. I want to take this space to acknowledge some bad news for ANYONE who loves basketball. I just read from the Iowa Hawkeye link ..that Jeff Horner has been diagnosed with testicular cancer and cancerous lymph nodes in the groin area. This why the coaches VS Cancer is important. Sending good thoughts to very good basketball player.

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