I'm going to dispense some of my thoughts on the state of Purdue basketball recruiting Class of 2011. In the true spirit of Monday, my thoughts will likely disappoint you so please brace yourself.
This is, however, my personal speculation. If you don't like it, you can simply ignore it and hope that I'm wrong.
Trust me, I hope I am too...
The Class of 2011
Interestingly enough, Matt Painter confirmed that 'nothing's changed' in regards to recruiting in respect to Robbie Hummel's redshirt. As most of you know, bringing on an additional recruit will put Purdue one scholarship over the limit next season unless there is attrition of some kind. Sound familiar?
I could spend a lot of time speculating on the various scenarios that would play out if we actually do get into another scholarship crunch; however, I am going to take a much more simplistic (and pessimistic) approach.
It won't even matter.
As it stands, Matt Painter has two major outstanding scholarship offers for the class of 2011 (at least that are public knowledge). As many of you know, these two prospects are Amir Williams and Chasson Randle. While I'd be more than elated to land either of the two blue chip prospects, I am mildly confident that Painter will strikeout on both.
Here's a breakdown of why I feel this way...
Rock Island, Il
This is the one that should sting the most. Matt Painter has dedicated as much time and effort in Randle's recruitment as he did with 'he whose name shall not be spoken' (hint: his name rhymes with Cranden Mawson). Painter even went as far as to sending Jack Owens to Germany to see him play for the USA Under 17 team. Painter made Chasson Randle his #1(b) priority and was one of the very first to start courting the guard. In turn, Randle has given Purdue more than a few visits and thoughtful and thorough consideration.
The only problem is, Illinois and Stanford have been equally a aggressive in Randle's recruitment. After the Rock Island guard narrowed his list two three, he has made his official visits to each school and is currently evaluating each of the schools with his family and inner-circle. At first glance, one would think Purdue would blow away the competition. But looking at each school a little more critically, it's not that simple. I just don't see Purdue overtaking both Stanford and Illinois in this hard fought race.
For the record, I have an enormous amount of respect for the manner in which Randle has handled his recruitment. He handled it with a maturity that's unseen nowadays. He has treated each school with nothing but respect and honesty, and has progressed through his recruitment in a very objective and methodical approach. He is sincere with all of his words and is truly making a well informed decision on what is right for him.
Randle has made academics a priority from day one. The aspiring doctor is clearly worried about his life after basketball and wants to set himself up for success. Stanford is very difficult to compete against in this area - and I wouldn't say that about many other schools. Stanford's academics are first class. But academics are not the only thing they have to offer. During his official visit to Stanford, Randle met Condoleezza Rice, Mark Madsen, and Michelle Wie. This demonstrates quite a commitment to their athletic teams. Coupled with being nestled in beautiful Palo Alto, Stanford has a few elements that Purdue can simply not compete with.
Likewise, I think Purdue will also have a tough time overtaking Randle's home state school, University of Illinois. To say that family and friends carry no influence is a lie. That alone is a tough obstacle to compensate for, but unfortunately that's just the tip of the iceberg.
If Randle were to commit to U of I, he would be joining three other 4-star recruits: Tracy Abrams (PG), Mycheal Henry (SF), and AAU teammate (and former Purdue target) Nnanna Egwu (C). Playing with Illinois would likely mean he is part of a class that's comparable to the Baby Boilers. Add this to the three 4 star recruits that are current freshmen (SG Crandal Head, C Meyers Leonard, SF Jereme Richmond), Randle would be guaranteed to play on some very talented teams.
Lastly, this might seem meaningless, but the impact of the Midnight Madness recruiting visit should not be underestimated. To say that observing the basketball fans' enthusiasm and being treated like a celebrity doesn't make an impact is just plain stupid. It's safe to assume that U of I took care of Randle during their Midnight Madness. And lets face it, he will be comparing it with Purdue's enthusiasm for our football team, which is sadly not even close to a sellout. While I do think the Purdue students' "We Want Randle" chant was a great touch, it's likely less impressive with so many empty seats.
Overall I just think there is too much to compete with. Under the circumstances, Purdue doesn't have everything he is looking for. He has treated us with nothing but respect and I really think he has given fair and sincere look, but I don't see enough of a draw for him to come to West Lafayette.
Beverly Hills, MI
I'll start by saying, I am VERY surprised that we are even on his list this late. I believe that his ties to the newly hired assistant coach Mike Jackson from Michigan is the only reason that Purdue is in his final list along with DePaul, Florida, and OSU. I feel this way simply because Purdue has not made him a priority until we started missing out on other prospects. I am amazed that he is giving us an official visit (October 31st). He's always listed Purdue among his favorites, but there was never much mutual interest beyond shallow declarations. Williams hasn't even set foot on campus prior to his pending visit.
But with Robbie Hummel as his host, maybe the new assistant coach' can get his first recruiting experience.
Luring Williams away from OSU is going to be tough sell. OSU has built a program catered to one-and-dones and I am sure that is the route they are taking for his recruitment. Trey McDonald, OSU's latest pickup, is a good friend and AAU teammate of Williams. It's widely believed that McD's scholarship was an attempt to lure Williams, much like Travis Trice was believed to be bait for...Cranden Mawson. Sure, Trey McDonald is a center, but he is projected to be more of a longer term 4-year project. His presence doesn't project to step on Williams' toes, as he'll likely be gone by the time McDonalds is part of their rotation.
Considering the time, or lack there of, Purdue as put in in his recruitment, and OSU's history with one-and-done caliber players, I don't see Amir Williams committing to Purdue.
Final Thought on 2011
If what I speculate holds true, it's inevitable that the Boiler Nation will go in Melt-down mode. This seems to happen every time Purdue misses out on a recruit. But all and all, it's not as dim as it appears.
The truth of that matter, is Matt Painter put all of his eggs in two baskets, and both baskets unexpectedly fell.
Before you grab your pitchfork and sound the alarm, don't forget we still have super athletic Donnie Hale who would have played meaningful minutes this year but has another year to develop. And Jacob Lawson's commitment should should bring a great deal of athleticism and a very high ceiling.
Here's another way to look at the whole situation: Pretend that Robbie Hummel is a one-and-done 5-star recruit that we fully expect to leave early. But different from most other one-and-dones, Hummel will bring inmeasurable leadership and a 4 years of experience running (and coaching) Purdue's offense. In some aspects, it's better than a one-and done. Of course, this is assuming he is back to his normal self. But we have no reason to think he won't get back to that point.
Does that make you feel any better? No? I didn't think it would...
But there is a lot to look forward to in the Class of 2012, and possibly even more in 2013. We'll take a deep dive into those classes later in the week. And I promise, they will be much more pleasant!