The newest Hoosiers have reported for duty.
As of yesterday, Al Durham Jr., Justin Smith and Clifton Moore have all moved into Bloomington, getting an early start on the transition to Big Ten basketball.
With their arrival in mind, the Peegs.com team of Mike Pegram and Jeff Rabjohns provide some of their own scouting type thoughts on the impact of each of the three. We also add the recent comments on the group from new coach Archie Miller. Those quotes come from his alumni event speech two weeks ago at the Huber Winery.
"Al Durham, from Georgia, committed early – was all-in with Indiana before probably anybody. 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 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."
Peegs: My favorite on court attribute from Al Durham Jr. is his speed in pushing the ball up the floor. He’s got some serious north-south velocity. That speed makes him a good slasher to the basket who can become a great slashing driver once he better recognizes when he has the advantage and when he doesn’t have the lane. He’s already shown significant strides in finding teammates off his drives.
As a senior in high school he showed an improved jumper and continued development there is an obvious key for him. Tightening his handle is another checkmark to shoot for and if he can do that he should be able to help some at the point position. Durham has decent strength and a summer with Clif Marshall should be enough to have him physically ready for the Big Ten. With his quickness and his okay length, he could end up being a good defender.
Rabby: Al Durham has very good physical tools for a major college guard at 6-foot-4 with length and shoulders for a frame than can add weight. The lefty’s 3-point shot made noticeable improvement as a senior, and if that becomes consistent, he takes a major step as a player.
Durham is best as a driver and passer entering college. He excels at drawing fouls, getting to the line, operating in congestion and finding teammates on drives. Defensively, he’s more advanced than most college freshmen, and that could get him on the court earlier than his offense.
"Justin Smith, from Illinois, is probably the one I've seen the most. Probably comes in as an elite athlete, talent. About 6-foot-6. Can really play above the rim. Oozes with potential. I think the one thing is to redefine him, is to figure out how he impacts the game shooting the ball and doing some things as a freshman. From a talent perspective— one of the more talented guys entering the league."
Peegs: I continue to think Justin is the most ready of the newcomers to help this coming season. First off he’s clearly the strongest or most physically mature of the trio. He’s also the most explosive off the floor. Another advantage for a quick transition is you watch him and quickly know he’s a “three” or small forward. Having said that he’s strong enough and because he's about 6-foot-6 to 6-foot-7, Smith could be a guy to turn to at the four spot when IU wants to go small or has foul or injury issues at the position.
Smith made real strides the last year with his intensity, a question mark many had when he was younger. He’s got to continue to focus on that and his skill set. To speak to the latter, he’s an okay shooter and handler, but he’s going to need to get better to contend to start later in his IU career. Tweaking his jumper is the thing that really stands out. But he’s had games where he’s one from beyond the arc. Defensively he has good potential. Again, improving intensity will push that along.
Rabby: Justin Smith is a big-time 6-foot-7 athlete who plays above the rim on both ends and has really improved his skills the past 18 months. He runs the floor very well, finishes when attacking the rim, which he does with enthusiasm He rebounds bigger than his height and can block shots as a help defender.
Smith has really improved his baseline jumper, especially off one or two dribble. His 3-point shot — his biggest weakness early in high school — has improved. He handles the ball well on drives. He has the physical tools to make an impact defensively. He’s the most college-ready of IU’s three incoming freshmen.
"Clifton Moore, from the Philadelphia area … was a guy our radar (at Dayton, Miller's previous coaching stop), being in the Atlantic 10. We got a chance to see him play in the summertime. He’s 6-foot-10 and really skilled. And he's got a frame that is going to grow. He's going to be what I would call a true versatile forward, in time, with his size combined with being able to shoot the three and some of the things he can do. I think, down the road, you're going to see a guy kind of grow up right before your eyes."
Peegs: Even though he’s by far the tallest of the trio, Moore looks to be the most effective and natural shooter. His release point is a bit lower than ideal but he’s got a nice touch and feel for the jumper. Nice length which will help immensely on both ends of the floor.
Nice, fluid athlete for his size, making him an ideal guy look for in transition, coming off the wing to finish with a flush or easy layup. He also handles it well enough himself to be a player that can push it up himself to create easy break opportunities.
Needs to gain a lot of strength and learn to play with less finesse, so that may delay his impact, but his upside is tremendous.
Rabby: Watching Clifton Moore in person is striking because he’s pushing 6-foot-11 but can put the ball on the floor outside the 3-point line, handle it with either hand, drive it, shoot it and make a variety of plays facing the basket. He’s scores inside some as well, but more on quick moves to spots instead of old-school post ups.
Defensively, Moore is a pogo stick who can get off the floor to block shots. At the major college level, he will need to add strength and weight to handle physical play in the paint, but he does have a skill set that could create mismatches for opponents and he’s only starting to scratch the surface of his potential.