'Let the dust settle.' How Archie Miller firing may affect Indiana's 2021-22 roster?
BLOOMINGTON – IU athletic director Scott Dolson’s slate of important meetings Monday didn’t stop when he sat down with Archie Miller to inform Indiana’s fourth-year coach he’d been fired.
Dolson also conducted two separate, important Zoom meetings, first with IU’s current roster, and then with 2021 signee Logan Duncomb and his father. It was Dolson’s effort to get in front of every Hoosier or future Hoosier he could — by rule, Dolson can’t have contact with 2022 commit C.J. Gunn — and address any concerns they might have before speaking publicly on his decision.
“Change is hard,” Dolson said of his meeting with IU’s current roster. “Uncertainty is hard. I wanted to assure them I wanted them to hear directly from me, our commitment and my commitment to maximizing their opportunity here within IU athletics and IU basketball. It was really important to me.
“I really appreciate their attention and their participation in the meeting.”
Coaching changes will always prompt uncertainty surrounding roster continuity in college basketball. When the IU job last opened in 2017, all three of Indiana’s commitments at the time reopened their recruitments before reaffirming their pledges to IU.
The only one of those recruits who wound up four seasons at Indiana, Al Durham, entered his name into the transfer portal Monday, a move that broke around the same time as Miller’s firing.
Durham’s father, Al Durham Sr., told IndyStar on Monday afternoon his son originally intended to explore potential professional options, before his father convinced him to also explore opportunities in the portal. Al Durham Jr. started 97 games over four seasons at Indiana, scoring more than 1,000 career points in the process.
“He was gung-ho on turning pro,” Durham Sr. said. “I kind of talked to him about it. I said you can’t bite off all your blessings.”
Durham Sr. said his son wasn’t ruling out anything at this stage. Durham Jr. has a fifth year of eligibility, thanks to the NCAA’s blanket waiver related to COVID-19.
Durham Sr. said he’s fielded calls from programs “across the country” interested in talking with his son about a transfer. And Durham Jr. hasn’t even ruled out returning to Indiana, according to his father.
“You have all your cards on the table, and now you can make a good informed decision,” Durham Sr. said of his son’s process. “(Durham Jr.) hasn’t even definitely decided he’s coming back for a fifth year.”
Durham might not be the only Hoosier to consider a professional future, with first-team All-Big Ten forward/center Trayce Jackson-Davis firmly in the mix to be drafted should he declare for the NBA this spring.
Jackson-Davis declined to go through the draft process last year, a decision he later said was impacted by the inability to schedule in-person workouts due to COVID. Some draft projections rate Jackson-Davis a second-round pick this year, should he declare, and it stands to reason he might at least test the waters.
Jackson-Davis was largely quiet in public Monday. He did post a picture of him standing next to Miller captioned by the words “Thank you” on social media.
Armaan Franklin, Indiana’s second-leading scorer whose ankle injury was among the turning points in a promising campaign turned sour this winter, will take time to let everything settle down, after Monday’s news.
“It’s still fresh,” India Franklin, Armaan Franklin’s mother, said in a text message to IndyStar. “We have decided to let the dust settle and sit down as a family and talk through the process.”
There will be other questions across the roster. Will Joey Brunk come back for a sixth season? How will the four-man freshman class, including three in-state players, be impacted?
And what of future Hoosiers? Dolson said sitting down with Duncomb and his father was an important piece of his schedule Monday. Duncomb is Indiana’s only signee in the 2021 class presently.
“Again, wanted him to hear directly from me and his father,” Dolson said, “and just to be available to answer any questions that they had.”
Duncomb told IndyStar on Monday that he plans to be patient and keep an eye on where the Hoosiers go next.
“Had a good talk with Dolson today," Duncomb said. "Going to wait for things to play out, and then will take it from there."
The Hoosiers’ only other commitment presently is Gunn, a guard/wing for Lawrence North in the 2022 class.
Gunn committed to Indiana a little more than a month ago, on Super Bowl Sunday. Unlike Duncomb, he remains unsigned, and thus would not need to be released from a letter of intent if he wanted to explore other options.
As of now, the Lawrence North 6-5 junior wing is not making a decision either way. Gunn’s Lawrence North team is preparing to play in the Class 4A semistate on Saturday in Seymour.
“First, our thoughts are with coach Miller, his staff and the players,” Gunn’s father, Christopher Gunn said. “C.J.’s current focus is on the state title run at this time. We will take our time before communicating anything about his college future.”
Gunn, who was averaging 14.1 points and 4.7 rebounds going into Saturday’s regional games, strongly considered Cincinnati prior to selecting IU. He also had high-major offers from Kansas State, Missouri, Wake Forest and Xavier.
At the time of his decision Gunn said: “It was the environment and the coaches treating me like family. Obviously, I know a couple of the players down there and the location is a factor. All of that combined, and I think it will give me the best opportunity in college.”
Follow IndyStar reporter Zach Osterman on Twitter: @ZachOsterman.