Indiana has seen its share of recruits that came in underrated and left as stars. Victor Oladipo, anyone? While we aren’t going to start making Oladipo comparisons, we will say that Al Durham, Jr. at least has the look of someone that was flying a bit under the radar. The final rankings for the class of 2017 for Durham, Jr. by 247Sports.com, ESPN.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com were as follows:
Three stars, No. 166 nationally
Four stars, unranked in top 100
Three stars, unranked in top 150
Three stars, unranked in top 100
Through 2 games the silky smooth 6-4 point guard is averaging 11 points, 2.5 assists and 2.5 rebounds. Perhaps more impressive than that stat line is that Durham, Jr. doesn’t appear to be phased by the moment. Three star players do not typically contribute significantly during their freshman years. They certainly don’t step up and hit big shots when their team is struggling and needs a lift. That is precisely what Durham, Jr. did against Howard.
Despite not being highly regarded as a perimeter shooter, Durham, Jr. hit three big 3 pointers in the first half at a time when Indiana was struggling to get separation from Howard. After the tough loss against Indiana State, the seemingly fragile team needed someone to step up. Few would have predicted that Durham, Jr. would have been that guy. He topped off his trio of 3 pointers with an attacking dribble drive that forced Howard to call a timeout.
Durham, Jr. continued to play a significant role in the second half against Howard, ending the game with 16 points. In addition to his offensive prowess, he also took a late charge on defense, again at a time where it appeared Howard might make a comeback and the team needed a lift. This knack for making big plays at big moments is going to make it hard for Archie Miller to keep him off the floor.
Archie Miller perhaps gave some early clues prior to the season that suggested that Durham might have a larger role than anticipated, stating “… he’s a guy, with the skill set and how he plays, will fit in nicely with what we do.”
It’s early, and the competition level is going to ramp up significantly, but Indiana has to be pleasantly surprised by what they’ve seen from their freshman point guard thus far.
Photo from @aldurham01