2017-2018 Player Profile: Al Durham Jr.

  • 10/18/2017 1:18 pm in

With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’ve transitioned from our look at other Big Ten programs to our player-by-player previews of the 2017-18 Indiana roster. Today, our profiles continue with a look at Al Durham Jr. 

Berkmar (Ga.) guard Al Durham Jr. was Indiana’s first commitment in the class of 2017. Durham committed to the Hoosiers in the fall of 2015 a few weeks after a visit to Bloomington.

But more than 17 months after his commitment and five months after he signed a National Letter of Intent with Indiana, Durham was forced to reconsider his options. Indiana fired Tom Crean after nine seasons and the assistant coach who was instrumental in recruiting him, Chuck Martin, was also let go.

The hiring of Archie Miller – and his decisive action to push to keep Durham Jr. in the fold – resulted in the left-handed guard reaffirming his commitment just two weeks into Miller’s tenure.

“If you look at what he did at Dayton, with the type of guards he had at Dayton, Al fits right in,” Durham’s father, Al Sr., told Inside the Hall in early April. “Open floor system, lots of pick and rolls. That’s Al’s game. Shooting, getting to the basket and drawing contact. All of that fits into what he does and what he coached at Dayton. It was almost like a no-brainer. He fits in perfectly for the style of play and what he’s looking to bring to Indiana and what he wants.”

In his final season at Berkmar, Durham was named first team all-county while averaging 20.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 2.7 steals and 2.8 blocks per game.

His coach, Greg Phillips, told Inside the Hall earlier this fall that Durham’s work ethic was a major reason he continued to improve over his prep career.

“He worked for four hard years on strength, continuing to get stronger,” Phillips explained. “Whenever a weakness or something he needed to improve upon came about in his game, he made sure to work on it. A lot of time at 6 a.m. in the gym before school started. A lot of time after school and individual workouts. No matter what someone said was a weakness for him, he chose to get in the gym and work on it and make sure it was not a weakness anymore.”

At 6-foot-4 and 175 pounds with length and athleticism, Durham has a chance to crack the rotation as a freshman in Bloomington. The Hoosiers have just four other guards on scholarship entering the season in Robert Johnson, Josh Newkirk, Devonte Green and Curtis Jones. At media day last month, Miller mentioned Durham as a potential fit this season at point guard.

While Durham continues to work on his perimeter shot, he comes into college as one of the nation’s best at getting into the lane and drawing fouls.

In his final season on the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) circuit, where he played for his father in the Southern Stampede program, he drew an average of 5.9 fouls per game. That was the third highest mark in the EYBL, according to Krossover. The two players ahead of him – Collin Sexton and Hamidou Diallo – were consensus five-star prospects nationally.

Bottom Line: Durham has two key components to his game that could earn him minutes as a freshman. He’s effective at getting into the lane and scoring at the rim or drawing fouls and he can also use his length to get into the passing lanes. With a newfound emphasis on defense under Miller, the latter could help set Durham apart from the others he’ll be battling for minutes.

Quotable: “I got a chance to see Al play … he’s a long, slender, athletic guard who can score. He’s got really good size. He’s got a frame that I think is going to fill out. And I think he’s a guy, with the skill set and how he plays, will fit in nicely with what we do.” – Miller over the summer on Durham.

Previously: Justin Smith, Clifton Moore

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  • inLinE6

    I see Al average 5-8 mins largely depending on his defensive play. I hope his shots are improving because it didn’t look very good at Kentucky derby.

  • Arch Puddington

    The comparisons with Stan Robinson are too obvious, and yet unavoidable. Rangy left-hander, gets into the lane well, defends well, can’t shoot a lick. Even apart from Stan’s off-the-court problems, the comparison isn’t favorable. Stan’s junior year stats at Rhode Island were almost identical to his freshman year stats at IU. His three point shooting went up bit, but his overall FG% and FT% are almost exactly the same even after two additional years of practice and development. Obviously we’ve seen others come in without great technical skills and improve, but as you say, AD is starting from pretty deep hole. Here’s hoping he follows the Oladipo/Ferrell path more than the Robinson path.

  • Molon Labe

    I am not sure I understand your last sentence. I think you meant Oladipo/OG path where they both came in unheralded and showed great improvement and made it to the NBA. Ferrell came in a McDonald’s all American and was never starting in any kind of hole.

  • inLinE6

    He’s hardly 6′ – was that a bigger hole? LOL.

  • VOXAC30

    Wasn’t Al a low ranked three star. I’m not sure how he gets minutes.

  • Arch Puddington

    I was referring specifically to Yogi’s shooting. He shot 30% from the three point line as a freshman, and made his way to 42% as a senior. His form was always good and the potential was always there, but it took some time for him to fully develop as an in-game shooter.

  • adam

    the fact that he looks like he’s at least willing to crack a smile from time to time makes me want to like him more than stan =/

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    i think a big key to AD’s personal success and his ability to help the team depends on whether or not he’s willing to accept his role, and play within the team concept. SR didn’t, IMHO. he had more of a shoot the ball first, ask questions later mentality. if AD can excel in areas other than scoring, especially in his first season, i think he could give the team some productive minutes.

  • Arch Puddington

    There is always a role for someone who can defend and rebound, but as I don’t need to tell you, a guy who can’t shoot is a huge liability in today’s game. Granted, with only five real guards on the roster, AD could see some time just due to injuries or foul trouble. But if he is to become a truly impactful player, whether this season or in the future, he’ll have to show the same kind of improvement that the others I mentioned. (Although I will say that his ability to get to the line could be quite weapon if it translates to this level).

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    i agree, especially when you’re talking guards. in what little footage i’ve seen, i do think there’s more to work with that what SR had. so i think he’s got a chance to become a capable shooter.

  • Molon Labe

    Got it. That makes sense then.

  • TomJameson

    I think Al is a player that will surprise some. Yes, he’s probably going to be a 4 year player, but I think he’s going to be more solid than some think. His work ethic is going to be paying dividends, and he’s been working hard on his shot for a while now.

    But I think what’s going to get him some minutes, I think up to 8-10, will be his defense and his ability to drive, finish at the rim, and draw fouls. I’ve heard he has a decent free-throw percentage, but can’t find it now.

  • pcantidote

    Hey, if Durham can just avoid the path of switching his shooting hand in college (WTF????) then that might be enough for me.

  • Arch Puddington

    The highlight reel of the best moments under CTC would be truly fantastic. The Watshot, the end of the game against Michigan, Yogi’s dagger against Iowa, Sheehey’s shot against VCU, the blowout of UNC on ESPN, lots of great memories.

    But the lowlight reel…wow. Subbing in Etherington for Vonleh against Big Frank Kaminsky with the game on the line, the signs reminding the players to get in their defensive stances, the whole “Jeremy Hollowell as point guard” thing, and of course the “Stan shoots right handed” thing. Not a high water mark in coaching.

  • pcantidote

    Good lists. I’d add the 40 point win at Mackey, finally winning at Breslin and the tourney win over UK to the best moments. The low reel would have to include the man/zone morphing defense, the un-celebration of the B1G title after the OSU loss, and the track record against Wisconsin.

  • TomJameson

    I agree as well, with both of you. I think Al will shoot well enough to not be a liability. The upside is that his defense, getting to the rim and drawing fouls will balance out any shooting liability. Of course, he has to hit his free throws.

    With his reported work ethic, and working hard on his weaknesses, I think he’ll be ok. I’ll stick with my guess of getting up to 8-10 minutes average.

  • Doug Wilson

    the Lefty Calbert Chaney in his Freshman class was not a 5 star recruit. He sure was by the time he left IU. Ya wanna see the difference beteween Miller and Crean? Watch two games Nebraska/ Dayton (Nov 2016) compare to IU/Nebraska. both teams were down by 10+ at half time. Dayton wore Nebraska down. Nebraska took IU’s game to them. IU could not catch up.

  • Doug Wilson

    Syracuse, Yogi’s freshman year created a big hole against 6’4/5 Guards.

  • Outoftheloop

    I like the fact that Archie sees Al as a player who can contribute right now, not “after 2-3 years”!

  • Outoftheloop

    He gets minutes based upon his play at Indiana, not based on “stars”!

  • Outoftheloop

    Apples to oranges. Stan was 6’3 and solid; Al is 6’4 and rangy with long arms. Al is not a bad shooter, just not great, yet.

  • VOXAC30

    He has been getting a lot of love long before he put on his IU Jersey. It’s interesting how a relatively unknown recruit nationally can get such notoriety locally. Both CTC and Archie are big on this kid. My comment didn’t really convey what I was trying to say.