BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The was one thing missing so far in Mike Woodson's transformation of the Indiana basketball roster was another big man. It was, it seems, the only hole remaining on the Hoosiers' roster of 13 scholarship players.
That final piece was fixed on Monday when 7-foot South Florida center Michael Durr committed to the Hoosiers. He's had longstanding relationships with Indiana assistant coaches Kenya Hunter and Yasir Rosemond, and that went a long way in getting the deal done.
Indiana had been looking for a big man for a while, but ran out of roster spots until last week, when it was announced that redshirt sophomore Jerome Hunter wouldn't return for the 2021-22 season.
Durr was his quick replacement. He averaged 8.8 points and 7.9 rebounds last year for a South Florida team that 9-13 overall. The Atlanta native has been a three-year starter at the Tampa, Fla. school.
Durr told the Indianapolis Star that his relationships with Hunter and Rosemond and his memories of Woodson coaching the Atlanta Hawks had a lot to do with his interest in the Hoosiers.
"They just basically broke down the history and what it means to be an IU basketball player in general – the community, the fans, how you’re treated," Durr told the Star. "Just the IU tradition in general, everything, they explained to me what it came with and what it means."
His conversations with Woodson meant a lot, too.
"He talked about my game and different things like that. He mentioned that he liked my game,'' Durr said. "He just wanted to help me take my game to the next level and take that jump, what he can do to help me, my game and reach the goals I want to reach.
"Just him caring about players on and off the court, helping players be set for life after basketball, just a lot of different components I liked."
Indiana played short a big man all last season after senior center Joey Brunk injured his back in the preseason and never got better, and required surgery in December. He missed the entire season, and got his second degree -- a master's this time after getting his undergrad degree in three years at Butler.
But at the end of the year, in something of a surprise, he transferred to Ohio State after the coaching change at Indiana. He reunited with Chris Holtmann, his former coach at Butler, instead of playing for new Indiana coach Mike Woodson.
His absence left a gaping hole down low last year, and it forced Trayce Jackson-Davis to have to play center all season and bang against all of the bulky 7-footers in the Big Ten.
And once Brunk headed east to Columbus, the fear was that Jackson-Davis would have to do that again in Woodson's offense, and do it with very little size on the bench behind him.
He was thrilled with the Durr news, and said so on Twitter.
Durr's arrival at least give Woodson and his staff multiple ways to play, and fills out an impressive 13-man dance card.
This roster, without question, is dramatically better than it was a year ago under Archie Miller, who was fired after four years that included no winning seasons in the Big Ten and no NCAA Tournament appearances.
There are several new faces in Bloomington, mostly notably transfers Miller Kopp (Northwestern) and Xavier Johnson (Pittsburgh). There are two high school recruits coming, Logan Duncomb, a big man from Cincinnati, and Tamar Bates, who committed last month after decommitting from Texas.
He was recently upgraded to a five-star recruit by the 247Sports composite ranking, and is the No. 27-ranked player in the Class of 2021