New Indiana Hoosiers' 2017 commit Al Durham: Indiana 'felt just like home to me'

Indiana picked up its first commitment in the 2017 class on Monday from Georgia point guard Al Durham. He spoke exclusively with about the pledge.

It wasn't so much that Al Durham was blown away by Hoosier Hysteria to the point he decided to commit to to Hoosiers right afterward. That would suggest a rush to judgment or an impulsive decision, and that simply wasn't the case with Durham. 

Rather, the 2017 guard's visit with his family for Indiana's annual Midnight Madness event served as Durham's confirmation that Bloomington was the right place for him.

Durham, a 6-foot-4 point guard from Lilburn, Georgia, became Indiana's first 2017 commitment when he called to give Tom Crean his verbal pledge on Monday morning. Durham's decison came just over four months after he received a scholarship offer from the Hoosiers on his first unofficial trip to campus.

Durham, a three-star prospect, was also considering Georgia, Florida, South Florida, Rhode Island and Virginia Tech.

"Tom Crean and Indiana both showed me something that I didn't get anywhere else," Durham said in an exclusive interview with "This weekend was amazing. The atmosphere was great and the feeling was just unbelievable. The fans are amazing. They showed a tremendous amount of love, so that was fun. I discussed it with my family and we talked about how I felt with the coaching staff and about their program and the education. Everything was just perfect and it felt just like home to me. It just felt like I didn't need to wait anymore."

While Durham's decision came rather suddenly, it certainly makes sense from a basketball and personnel standpoint. He's a true point guard, and by the time he arrives in Bloomington, Yogi Ferrell will have graduated and James Blackmon Jr. and Robert Johnson will be on their way out. Curtis Jones, a 2016 Indiana commit, is more of a combo guard than a true point, so Durham will have the opportunity to come in and compete for the point guard spot early on in his college career.

Of course, Crean still plans to sign a point guard in the 2016 class, so that picture could change somewhat. But the overarching point remains that Durham should have a chance for early playing time at Indiana.

"Their style of play is similar to my game," Durham said. "Make a play, and make everyone around you great. I'm a versatile player. I can play point and get everyone involved as well, and I can score so I can do whatever you need." 

Durham's relationship with Crean is still only in its early stages, but the left-handed point guard said he's always felt on the same page with the Indiana coach. Durham's primary goal is to improve as much as he possibly can at Indiana and leave the school in a better place than where he found it. 

"We are still feeling each other out and trying to get to know each other better, but it's a good relationship," Durham said. "He understands what we are trying to accomplish together, which is to get better. His message to me has been, 'You haven't arrived anywhere yet and you have big shoes to fill to play in this conference and in front of the great fans that come with it.'"

In the current climate of college recruiting, many kids would shy away from such a message. We live in a world now where successful athletes are constantly praised and reminded how great they are from the time they are in the 6th grade through high school. The result can be, and often is, a rise in ego and a drop in work ethic. That ego has been stroked for years. Some coaches would rather do the same and tell the recruit what he wants to hear.

Therein lies the difference with Crean, and the difference with Durham. His answer to that question is similar to one Victor Oladipo would have given at the same point in his recruiting process. I'm not suggesting Durham will become Oladipo or anything close to it, only saying that kids like Durham are the ones Indiana needs. He'll come to Bloomington with something of a chip on his shoulder and will be ready to work, not expecting the keys to the kingdom to be handed to him.

Durham is ready to be a Hoosier, and that's not a decision he made lightly.

"On my way home, I called [Crean] and thanked him for having us down and showing us a great time," Durham said. "I told him I felt in my heart that he was the coach that could help me get better as a man and a basketball player, so I told him that 'I am committing to be an Indiana Hoosier.'

"He was very excited. He wanted to make sure, but I was for certain that's where I wanted to go." Top Stories