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Indiana Basketball 2019-20 Player Previews: Al Durham

The 2019-20 Indiana University men’s basketball season is right around the corner.  To help get you ready, The Daily Hoosier is profiling every player on the 2019-20 IU roster.  You can see all of our player profiles in one place here.  If you are looking for the 2019-20 IU basketball schedule, you can find that here.


There have been doubters since day one, and there has been progress since day one.

The unheralded member of former head coach Tom Crean’s final Indiana recruiting class, few knew what to expect from Durham when he arrived on campus.

The Georgia native exceeded the expectations of most during his freshman season and then showed meaningful improvements in year two.

Named a captain of the 2019-20 Hoosiers, Durham is already grabbing the headlines before his junior season begins.

Now a team leader, and his guard role changing, doubt has turned into anticipation for what’s next.

Aljami Durham
Credit – IU Athletics

ESSENTIALS

  • Height:  6-foot-4
  • Weight:  185
  • Position:  Guard
  • Class:  Junior
  • Hometown:  Lilburn, Georgia
  • High School:  Berkmar

2018-19 STATISTICS

  • Minutes per game:  28.8
  • Points per game:  8.3
  • Rebounds per game:  1.9
  • Assists per game:  1.6
  • Steals per game:  .5
  • FG%:  40.3%
  • 3FG%:  34.8%
  • FT%:  74%

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING

IU head coach Archie Miller on Durham —

“One, he’s a great person. He’s always been about the right things, and he continues to be the same way right now as he was when he got here. That’s a credit to his family and credit to how he approaches things, not only in basketball perspective, but just in general. He’s a great guy. He’s a great person to have on your team. He’s a great guy to go to class with. He’s a great guy.

He takes a lot pride in his individual improvement and he works at it. He’s a much better player. He’s stronger now than he has been in the past. He’s heavier now than he has been in the past. Now he’s experienced a lot of minutes in a two-year period. We count on him to do a lot.”

Durham on improving his perimeter shot —

“Yeah, continuously in the gym, shooting putting up shots, getting reps.  It’s just something I can continuously improve in.  Even though I took strides last year, I want to continue to make strides this year.”

Durham on playing more point guard this year —

“Yeah, we been practicing it.  I mean, we’ve talked about it, I been repping it out at the point guard spot.  So I feel like I can come in and contribute any way I can at the point guard spot, I’ll do it.”

WHAT 2019-20 SUCCESS LOOKS LIKE

Why was Durham, still just a junior on this team, voted to be a captain by his teammates?

For that we asked him about his father’s reaction to the news.

“He (Al Durham, Sr.) always knew that I was always a leader more than anything.  I’ve always cared for everyone.  He’s always pumped me to be who I am, and that’s a leader and I’ve always been that….It’s one of the many things that I can do in this world.”

As is often the case with the son of a coach, the leadership part comes natural to Durham.  His particular leadership style will be interesting to watch, as this Indiana team is in need of strong verbal leaders.

After shooting just 28.6% from long range for his freshman season, Durham surged north of 40% through December of his sophomore campaign.  Possibly due to a finger injury, he slumped down the stretch and ended up shooting 34.8% after a 9-for-34 month of March.  Whether it was due to the finger or otherwise, Durham has to prove it all over again — and he has to carry the load for an entire season.

Indiana hasn’t adequately addressed its three-point shooting deficiencies through recruiting, placing an even greater significance on returning guys like Durham to lead the way.

Durham appears to be destined to improve from the free throw line.  Miller reported at Big Ten media day that Durham had shot 92% during workouts and practices since the end of last season.

With a free throw rate that was the 11th best in the Big Ten according to Ken Pom, Durham is effective at getting past his man and drawing fouls.  Much of that is due to a quick first step and a respectable off hand.  The next level is to turn more of those attempts into traditional three-point plays as Durham develops more strength in the paint or more assists as the defense collapses.

On the defensive end Durham tends to be more fundamental than impactful, which is important in Miller’s pack-line scheme.  But as an upperclassman leader, you’d like to see Durham’s next step be to make the transition towards being more of a lock-down, splash play defender that has an edge.

As mentioned above, Durham is going to be playing some point guard in 2019-20, so you have to think about success in that context.  His transition to primary ball handling duties will clearly be part of his story this season.

Overall, if Durham can score 8 to 10 points per game via 42-45% from the field overall and 38-40% from behind the three-point line while contributing 2 to 3 assists and a steal per game, all while becoming a strong leader on this team — then 2019-20 will be a success for Al Durham.


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