Indiana fans are understandably excited about the 2018-19 college basketball season. When Romeo Langford announced that he would be attending IU, the prospects for the upcoming season took a big lift.
For Archie Miller and his coaching staff, it was about much more than just one season. As we highlighted the next day, Langford’s commitment put the finishing touches on what Miller had described as his “inside-out” strategy. The finishing touches for the 2018 class, that is. The coaching staff has been hard at work since they arrived on the 2019 class as well, and beyond.
The reason the strategy makes sense, at least on paper, is that the talent is already here. If you want to win at Iowa, Kentucky, Wisconsin and many other places, you are generally going to have to go out and compete in the shark infested waters with everyone else.
Coaching at Indiana has an inherent advantage as it relates to that in-state talent. Or at least it should. The program, while not what it once was, still has a certain allure to it. While today’s high school kids don’t know much about the glory days, they do know what a packed house at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall feels like, and they do appreciate what those banners signify.
But are we overstating the talent that this state produces? Does “inside-out” really make sense, or should the coaches be focusing elsewhere? To be sure, the answer seems to be yes…..and yes. IU has offered plenty of highly regarded out-of-state targets in the classes of 2018 and 2019, and now even 2020. Those out-of-state kids are the “outs” of inside-out. You have to have both.
We went back and looked at the top talent from the state of Indiana going back to 2002. The data gets harder to find before then. What we found seems pretty clear. In just about every year there is at least that one guy that you could build your class around. In some years you didn’t even need to leave the state.
Let’s be clear about who is on this list. These are the guys that were must-gets. The guys that were not overrated based on their college results and in most cases played or play professionally. There were plenty of other highly talented high school players in the state that we left out. But these guys — these guys you couldn’t afford to miss on — and more often than not, Indiana whiffed. Way more often than not.
How much better do you think Indiana could have been this past season with just one of Kris Wilkes or Jaren Jackson? Think Gary Harris might have helped that 2013 team? Adding Conley and Oden to a 2007 Indiana team that was already good enough to play in the NCAA tournament would have been nice. I’m sure plenty of calls and texts were made to try to make that happen.
Of course you are not going to land every one of these kids. Purdue needs some scraps after all. But the “inside” kids are the safety net. These are the kids that should instinctually want to come to IU if you are doing things the right way. These are the kids that can year in and year out be the foundation of great recruiting classes going forward.
As you can see, that will once again hold true in 2019, which collectively, is a better in-state class than 2018, even with Langford. We told you that we believe IU should be expanding that in-state 2019 net even wider and offer Valparaiso’s Brandon Newman. He is more than talented enough to play at Indiana on his own, but there’s another reason why you make that offer.
The Hoosiers haven’t had much success recruiting the northwestern part of the state, and it produces a lot of the talent. The next time a Branden Dawson comes along, hopefully it will be in the footsteps of a Newman. Hopefully he will already know the IU coaches and will have already seen some of his friends from the local area play in Bloomington.
After the home run that Miller and his staff hit with 2018, we just need to trust the process at this point. If Newman or Cathedral’s Armaan Franklin is the right answer, they’ll make it happen. By all accounts the door has been left open.
A door is exactly what this program needs. A revolving door, where players from all over the state have IU at the top of their list. History has shown that can at least be the start of a solid recruiting class almost every year.
And oh by the way, the in-state future looks just as bright. You already know about 2019. Most recruiting analysts see the class of 2021 turning into another classic. We’re sure that Archie is already on it, hoisting the safety nets…before the sharks arrive.
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