Debunking Myth That Matt Painter Is A Great Recruiter

Tag: Basketball, NCAA BB, Boilers

It is almost sacrilegious in Purdue country to criticize Matt Painter but I have a problem with people labeling him a great recruiter. He may be a tireless recruiter, I will give him credit for that because he is always out there looking at prospects but his track record shows he hasn’t been able to consistently land elite players and difference makers for the program. The only reason he is considered such a great recruiter is because he found Chris Kramer in 2006 when nobody else wanted him and when he signed the blockbuster 2007 class of Robbie Hummel, JaJuan Johnson, and E’twaun Moore. However, since that group dubbed, “The Big 3” he hasn’t been able to continue that recruiting success and he’s been nothing more than average. This was never more evident than when Hummel went down with his injury last year and the team totally fell apart.

Painter’s 2008 (Ryne Smith, John Hart, and Lewis Jackson) and 2009 classes (D.J. Byrd, Kelsey Barlow, Patrick Bade, and Sandi Marcius) are completely made up of role players; there is not a future star in the bunch. Name one of those guys you trust…yeah not a single one. Thankfully his 2010 class has one sure thing star in guard Terone Johnson (my man-crush for Terone is at an all-time high, just wait for his first 20 point scoring game and I will probably write the most glowing article you’ll ever see on this site) and potentially another in guard Anthony Johnson. The other member of that class is center Travis Carroll and he is basically Patrick Bade 2.0. Recruiting role players to build around three bona-fide stars is fine, but when those gifted players leave, you are left with quite a bare roster, which Purdue is going to find out the hard way in the coming years.

The future recruiting isn’t looking too impressive. Painter missed on all of his top targets for 2011, including the highly touted Gary, Indiana forward Branden Dawson, who is ranked 13th overall by Rivals.com. It was long thought that Dawson would commit to Purdue because he told a newspaper that Coach Painter was like a father figure to him. Unfortunately for Purdue fans, he committed to Michigan State late this summer. Purdue does however have commitments from two 6’8” power forwards in Donnie Hale and Jacob Lawson. They are both very athletic but still raw from a skill standpoint and will take time to develop. Hale was originally a 2010 recruit but is attending prep school this year because all of Purdue’s scholarships were taken (thanks a lot Bade and Hart).

Then there is the 2012 recruiting class, which actually makes me angry every time I think about it and has caused me to scale back my following of recruiting (when the decisions of 16-year olds affects my mood it’s time to find a new hobby). Purdue has 3 commitments: Jay Simpson a 6’8” forward from Champaign, Illinois; Rapheal Davis a 6’5” guard from Fort Wayne, Indiana; and 6’1” point guard Kyle Molock from Dublin, Ohio. All 3 of them committed last fall before playing their sophomore seasons of high school. According to the Rivals.com rankings of the top 150 players for 2012, Simpson is ranked 86th, Davis is ranked 100th, and Molock is ranked 129th. It will be Painter’s best class since 2007 and any other year I would be thrilled with a group like that. But the high school talent level in the state of Indiana for 2012 is unbelievable. There are 9 players from Indiana in the Rivals Top 150.

The two names to remember from 2012 will be Gary Harris and Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell both from Indianapolis. Harris is a 6’4” guard who exploded onto the scene this year and is a 5-star recruit ranked #24 overall. And guess what? His mother played basketball at Purdue. But instead Painter offered Rapheal Davis a scholarship first and he accepted shortly after so Purdue never really became a player for Harris. I’m not sure where Harris is going to go but it will probably be Indiana, Ohio State, or Michigan State. Purdue was one of the first schools to offer point guard Yogi Ferrell and would have been high on his list. But then Painter also offered a scholarship to Molock and he accepted a few days later. Ferrell played spectacular this year and is ranked #17 in the nation. Some people think Ferrell will be too small to make a huge impact but he’s a legitimate 5’11”. While he may never play in the pros, he can still be an elite college point guard. He is a lock to commit to Indiana. If that’s not enough, in August, Molock tore his ACL and his development as a player will be set back a year (yep the curse even reaches the recruits). As the old saying goes “hindsight is 20/20” and you never know if they would have eventually committed to Purdue but there was a great chance to land both Harris and Ferrell and instead Purdue got players who are currently inferior. I hate when Purdue fans say they are fine with Davis and Molock because “they wanted to be Boilers first”. Well it was still really early in the recruiting process so had Painter waited just a few more months, maybe Harris and/or Ferrell would have realized that they wanted to be Boilers. Or we could have found out definitively that Purdue wasn’t going to get them and then Painter could move on. I believe Davis and Molock would both still be available. I’m disappointed because I want the best recruits possible for Purdue and I don’t accept mediocrity. There is still time before these players arrive on campus and they will continue to develop, so this argument is far from final but as it stands right now Coach Painter took chances and flat out made mistakes.

Something rarely talked about is that Terone Johnson is the only star recruit Painter has been able to sign without former assistant coach Cuonzo Martin (now the head coach at Missouri State) who was instrumental in landing JaJuan and E’twaun. I think Cuonzo leaving is a bigger deal than most people realize. Painter can never seem to close the deal. I’ve joked that if coffee is for closers than Matt Painter must be a tea drinker. His second-place finishes for recruits he spent an inordinate amount of time chasing is quite legendary, the list includes: Tyler Zeller, Luke Harangody, Dominic James, Gordon Hayward, and Branden Dawson. The 2013 class of recruits in Indiana is another good one and Purdue ‘leads’ for some of the best players, so Painter better secure some commitments or this is really going to spiral downward.

Coach Painter’s recruiting philosophy is to target young players that he believes will keep developing and get them to commit before the big name schools come calling. I understand that at a school like Purdue you have to do that but I thought the success they’ve been having on the court would allow Painter to be a little more selective with his scholarship offers. I also realize that Purdue just won’t be able to get every player it wants because it doesn’t work that way unless you are Kentucky. Painter recently was quoted as saying he looks at a team like Wisconsin who gets players people may not think are great but they buy into the system and win. Oh fantastic, in that case I can’t wait to underachieve in the NCAA Tournament each year like the Badgers do. Recruiting rankings don’t mean everything but they are a good barometer of talent. Maybe Coach Painter has this perfect plan in place and these recruits will develop into All-Americans. Maybe he will turn out to looking like a genius and I will look like an idiot, but so far his history suggests otherwise. And it’s appearing as though Indiana Coach Tom Crean is taking back control of recruiting in the state of Indiana.

Comments

Anonymous (not verified)
January 15, 2011

I have never been a Matt Painter fan since Keady hand picked him. It is true Painter has had one incredible recruiting class, but he hasn't done much since. He has recruited role players year after year, just like Keady. I'm am tired of the team goal being a Big Ten Championship. Who cares! Do you think Mike Krzyzewski, John Calipari, or Jim Boeheim have team goals of conference championships or final fours?

Nick Gigot (not verified)
November 14, 2010

I completely agree with Slick. I know recruiting doesn't mean everything, but it is a very good basis to analyze talent. Purdue consistently misses out on the elite talents (Zeller, Dawson, Teague) and it seems as if this is only continuing with the likes of Chasson Randle, Amir Williams, Gary Harris, and Yogi Ferrell. It would be nice to land Amir Williams, but I doubt he commits to Purdue. It's frustrating to see Ohio St. steal all of these kids from the state of Indiana. On the flip-side, look at what Steve Lavin has done with his recruiting at St. John's...it's scary how good his recruiting class is. I'm not saying fire Painter by any means, he has been amazing. But...if Purdue goes through a 4 or 5 year period where they are mediocre in the Big 10, I can't help but wonder what hiring Lavin may have done.

Rick Green (not verified)
November 26, 2010

I hear what you are saying about Lavin recruiting accomplishments and Painter, but one major difference between the two of them is that Lavin can't coach! He can get all the talent every year but his teams will disappoint in the end. Now I really wanted Dawson & Randle as bad as anyone, and it hurts that we couldn't land one of them, but I'm am glad we ended up with a couple of long athletic types who can help. I like what Painter has done with the 12 class, really good players who would have had thier pick of schools, and 3 different positions They should be able to add another to this class, another talented big would be great.

Kapper (not verified)
November 9, 2010

http://www.jconline.com/article/20101109/SPORTS06/11090334/Purdue-swings...

Slick
November 9, 2010

See I'm not the only one. Liked the home run comment, I think Painter is more Adam Dunn than Albert Pujols

Anonymous (not verified)
November 5, 2010

I want to disagree with you about the 2012 class right now. I think if you look at the 2007 class, why Painter did a great job is that he was able to see something in the 3 of them when other were not as high on them. Painter saw that the had a better upside then other coaches and scouting services had them...he also recruited them on how they would fit into his system. Looking at the 2012 class, I really like it at this point, you can talk all day long about where the 15 and 16 year old's are ranked on the national scale right now. Much of that has to do with what AAU program you are plaing with, how much you are seen, and where your development currently is at. With Rapheal Daivs, he already had great size for a shooting guard and is a great scorer (something Painter will need at the time he enters Purdue. He plays on an AAU team where it is the Marcus Teague show. I am sure if he was playing with his own class and was able to be the primary player like he should be, his production would be that much better. Then you can take Molock, a pg who is 6'2, a Big 10 build already, and everyone I talk to says it is his upside that is scary. At the 2nd Purdue shootout in June, it was said that he was the best player there (even thought we just don't hear a lot about him being in the suburb of Columbus Ohio). Other schools were getting on him early, but he wanted Purdue. With Simpson, you have a young big man who at 6'8 already has a inside/outside game. He is still raw but big men take a little longer. He is athletic and can even handle the ball. Again, we are talking about a young kid who keeps getting and better and has a Big 10 body, and very impressive skills already. This is the type of kid that if he keeps developing that he will get paid to play one day. I think if you look at some of the kids you named that righ now, they may be more advanced, but if you project out 3 to 4 years down the road...Molock & Simpson might be the better long term picks and Davis will always be able to score.

Slick
November 5, 2010

I totally agree with you on Simpson and I'm perfectly happy with him. And there weren't really good big men in the state anyways, I wont complain about a 6'8" skilled big man. His only real weakness is that he doesn't play hard every time out and I know Painter can get that out of him. I hope you're right about Molock I just don't want to have another point guard that can't hit an outside shot. I agree that he has a higher ceiling than Ferrell, but you just never know if a player will reach it. I like Davis and he has a freaky 6'10" wingspan so he could be a tough defender, I just don't think he will ever be as good as Harris.

Anonymous (not verified)
November 3, 2010

Slick you are very down on Purdue. We have been ranked for 50 some weeks now. Smile

Slick
November 4, 2010

I want Final Fours not rankings and Sweet 16's. Its been since February since I have had anything to cheer about, I think that's why I'm down, I need some good news.

Anonymous (not verified)
November 2, 2010

You come across with the implication that you are a Purdue fan. If so, then I humbly request that you find another school to follow. I've never read a more defeatist hunk of poo about recruiting. Here's an idea; How about we give the kids a chance to get on campus and suit up before we throw them under the bus?

Slick
November 4, 2010

I never threw the recruits under the bus, I simply stated that right now they aren't as good as some players we had a chance to get and its the absolute truth not some "defeatist hunk of poo". If you can tell me where I wrote every recruit sucks then please point it out to me because I don't see it.

Kapper (not verified)
November 3, 2010

We've waited to see what Bade, Smith, Hart, Barlow etc. have been able to do on campus and frankly it's a bit scary to imagine this team without JJ and Moore. I don't think anyone is implicating that these kids are bad basketball players, just that they aren't the top flight talent that a team with the recent history Purdue has should be getting. Painter is consistently losing to Matta, Izzo and now Crean on the big talent recruits in Indiana. Even Notre Dame is poaching some of the state's top talent and they're a football school (although their recent history might suggest otherwise).

Anonymous (not verified)
November 2, 2010

Abortion has had a better previos 20 years.

IU basketball is a joke and has been for a generation and there's not much the overgrown Oompa-Loompa and his Mountain Dew fueled mania can do about it.