This wasn’t the spring that IU basketball head coach Archie Miller imagined.
Of course this wasn’t the spring that anyone imagined.
What does an ordinary spring look like for Miller?
The NCAA men’s basketball national championship game, typically on the first Monday in April, serves as a starting gun.
“As soon as that national championship game ends, it’s over,” Miller said on a recent podcast with Don Fischer. “You’re on the road recruiting in April, you’re hitting weekend events for the first time in the AAU season, you’re doing your home visits basically sitting in front of families finishing up your recruiting visits in April, your initiating contact with the young kids.
“Basically college basketball from the end of March to the end of April is a race. And once you get to June, you’re like damn where did my spring go?”
Except for 2020.
It has been a complete reversal from the normal two month long spring sprint that college basketball coaches have come to know.
“I’ve been home for ten straight weeks,” Miller said.
The hits keep coming to the normal college basketball offseason recruiting calendar.
Over the weekend the Nike EYBL AAU circuit shut down entirely for the 2020 spring and summer, including its popular “Peach Jam” event in July.
The NCAA extended the recruiting “dead period” to July 31, meaning that college coaches will not be able to visit or evaluate players on or off campus.
The NCAA and NABC are still endeavoring to come up with in-person evaluation periods. Reports over the weekend suggested that three separate live periods in August, September and October were on the table.
But that doesn’t leave much time for a coaching staff to make up ground for recruits that they were hoping to get involved with.
“This is where the better job you do recruiting during the season pays dividends, because you’re not playing any catch up,” Miller said.
Most incoming seniors commit in the summer or fall of their final year of high school. As Miller suggested, colleges aren’t likely to catch up, and on the flip side, players aren’t likely to catch the eye of any last minute suitors.
For the class of 2021, in many ways, things just are what they are right now. Miller’s ten weeks at home is about to become twenty.
So where does Indiana stand?
IU has only one player committed in the 2021 class — Ohio center Logan Duncomb. That leaves three open scholarships on the roster for the 2021-22 campaign, and that is before accounting for Trayce Jackson-Davis’ post-sophomore season decision. In other words, there is a high probability that Miller has at least four openings to fill in the class of 2021.
With plenty of openings and little opportunity to fill them, is Miller worried?
“I feel like we’re in a really good situation with the 2021 class, so I’m not as concerned about having to be out there all the time watching them.”
A really good situation? With only one player committed?
That was a significant statement by Miller, and a likely indicator of what is to come in the relatively near term.
Miller has only offered a couple 2021 players this spring, which further substantiates his comfort level with where he is with the incoming high school seniors.
The elimination of the marquee AAU events is likely to trigger a wave of commitments as players come to the realization that there will be few opportunities to continue to evaluate options before high school resumes and their own seasons begin.
Look for players that are already leaning in a particular direction to make an announcement in the next couple months.
Miller’s statement and his actions clearly suggest that IU has class of 2021 targets leaning its way.
Who might they be?
With Duncomb already in the fold, IU appears to have backed off of its other center targets in the 2021 class. While there is still a need for size in the front court, the transfer route could be the way to go for more traditional big men to achieve class diversity.
IU also projects to have two point guards on its 2021-22 roster — Rob Phinisee and Khristian Lander. Another primary ball handler isn’t a likely priority either.
That leaves shooting guards, wings and power forwards as likely positions that IU has emphasized — and gained traction.
Sellersburg, Ind. four-star forward Trey Kaufman is the first target that comes to mind, as does Miller’s remark about recruiting efforts during the season.
Kaufman was a relatively regular visitor to IU before the pandemic, and he attributed that to more than just the fact that Bloomington is close to home.
“It is proximity, but IU is definitely up there with everybody as far as recruiting goes,” Kaufman told The Daily Hoosier in April. “I’ve been there multiple times and I’d say they are right up there with everybody.”
A near term commitment to Indiana by Kaufman would not be a surprise at this point.
The other two forwards that Indiana has clear traction with are Mason Miller and Trey Patterson. Miller indicated that IU was in his top three, and Patterson has already taken an official visit to IU — something that carries added significance in this environment. John Camden is another comparable 2021 forward that IU recently offered.
At this point a commitment from one of those forwards should be viewed as a strong likelihood. More than one from that group would be a coup.
At the guard position, Indiana seems to be in a good spot with both Aminu Mohammed and Blake Wesley. Both have been on campus, including an official visit by Wesley in November.
Both players have indicated that they want to wait things out and take visits, but could Miller’s comfort level tell a different story? Mohammed and Wesley walked away from their in-season visits very impressed, and IU could be further along than most realize.
IU has been in a good spot with Wesley since that November visit, and the Hoosiers are clearly in Mohammed’s top tier. Walking away with a commitment from one of the two seems like an increasingly good possibility.
Also keep an eye on Jordan Longino, another 2021 guard where IU has a good connection.
One of those forwards and one of those guards in the 2021 class would put IU back up to 11 or 12 projected scholarship players for 2021-22, with Jackson-Davis being the variable.
That would be a home run 2021 class, and that seems to be a scholarship count that Miller is comfortable with.
And it all likely explains why Miller feels like IU is in a good situation in the class of 2021.
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