Most people would assume that due to recent success, the Purdue men’s basketball team would absolutely have a bright future and be a top program for years to come. Coming off of two straight Sweet 16 appearances in the NCAA Tournament, a Big Ten Tournament Title in 2009, and a regular season Big Ten Championship this past year, it seems like a no brainer. However, I don’t believe the future is that promising for the Boilers.
The 2010-2011 season has the potential to be quite successful. It’s a team that could reach the Final Four (if JaJuan Johnson returns). The problem is it could be the last great season at Purdue for a little while. After the recruiting class of 2007, comprised of Robbie Hummel, E’twaun Moore, and JaJuan Johnson, Coach Painter has been an average recruiter. When those three leave it’s not going to be a very talented team.
In 2008 Painter signed John Hart, Ryne Smith, and Lewis Jackson. So far, only Jackson is a proven contributor. In 2009 he signed a class of Patrick Bade, Sandi Marcius, Kelsey Barlow, and D.J. Byrd. Marcius hasn’t played so he is an unknown at this point. Barlow has incredible potential but I don’t know if he really has the desire to be great. D.J. Byrd is a nice player to bring off the bench because he is tough and hardnosed, but he will never be a star. Bade is awful and shouldn’t see meaningful minutes the rest of career. That is two straight average recruiting classes that are supposed to be the future, but have produced only two realistic starters (Barlow and Jackson) and they play the same position.
The 2010 class, which will be the freshmen this upcoming season, is basically the foundation for the future of the program. The group is made up of Travis Carroll, Donnie Hale, Terone Johnson, and Anthony Johnson. I have seen each one of them play at least two times on TV. Carroll is a 6’9” center who is a true low post player and has nice post moves. His problem is that he is painfully unathletic. Hale is a 6’8” athletic forward with a 7’2” wingspan. He will block shots and can hit some 3-pointers, but needs to add a lot of strength. Hale had no other major scholarship offers at the time of his commitment last summer before his senior year, that’s a major red flag to me. Terone Johnson is a 6’2” guard who is an absolute stud. He will start from day one because he’s powerfully built and can score from anywhere on the court. Anthony Johnson is a 6’4” shooting guard who also can score in bunches and is a good 3-point shooter. His only problem is that he needs to add a lot of weight, he’s very skinny.
For the future recruiting classes there isn’t too much to get excited about either. Right now for the 2011 class Purdue has no commitments and really isn’t a contender for a lot the best players out there. They have basically pinned all their hopes on a forward from Gary, Indiana. He is currently ranked #16 in the nation according to rivals.com. He would obviously be huge for the program but there’s no guarantee he will come to Purdue. Painter has already received verbal commitments from three kids in the 2012 class (all of which were offered before their sophomore seasons of high school), which uses up all the open scholarships for that season. The only reason you offer kids that young, is if you believe they’re going to be absolute studs. If Painter has made a mistake and these kids don’t develop over the next two years as well as he thinks, it can set the program back for years. As of right now, it leaves him no room to add anyone to the class depending on needs and worst of all it opens up the state of Indiana, which is loaded with talent in 2012, for teams to come in and get great players that Purdue may have been able to get.
At a school like Purdue you have to get some players before the big name schools come calling, but you would think after being a nationally ranked team for three straight seasons, you could be a little more selective. If Painter is right and all three guys are studs, then it was a great strategy. He obviously has a plan in mind, but it’s definitely risky. It also doesn’t help that a lot of teams in the Big Ten are bringing in great talent. Illinois has absolutely nailed its 2009, 2010, and 2011 recruiting classes. They are bringing in legitimate future NBA players. Thad Matta at Ohio State is the best recruiter in the conference, so he will be bringing in great players every year. Tom Izzo’s resume speaks for itself; there will be no drop off of talent at Michigan State. That’s three teams that will be better than Purdue already.
So enjoy this last season of Robbie Hummel, E’twaun Moore, and JaJuan Johnson (if he returns) because it’s likely the last time Purdue is a national contender for a few years. Maybe Painter knows exactly what he is doing and we can all say that’s why he is the coach and I’m a stupid blogger, but his recent track record suggests otherwise. Painter hasn’t been able to bring in a star big man since JaJuan in 2007 and there isn’t one coming down the pike anytime soon. He’s come close but can never seal the deal. It is a myth that he is this great recruiter. Trust me I want to be wrong, but as of now I just don’t see it. If I were buying stock I’d definitely buy it in the Purdue football team, rather than the basketball team.
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