12 Days to Purdue Basketball: Kelsey Barlow

Kelsey Barlow embodies the type of player that Matt Painter loves to have in his system.

He's not going to dazzle you with 20 points or 10 rebounds in a game, but he does something much more important: He helps you win games.

Being a 6'5" guard with a 7-foot wingspan, Barlow has the tools to also play the 3 and 4 if the match-up favors it.

He had many doubters as he entered his freshman season. Many questioned if he was even capable of playing at the next level. At the least, he was believed to be a lock for a red-shirt.

How can someone who averaged less than 15 points and 8 rebounds in high school stand a chance to contribute on a top -10 team?

Barlow's play and post-season accolades answered that question. And I am sure Matt Painter enjoyed every second of it.

Kelsey Barlow - Sophomore

Hometown - Indianapolis, IN

Guard/Forward

6'5"/193

2010-11 Projection: Rotation (and potential starter at some point)

Barlow's All-Freshman Team honor should be a reminder to everyone that there is much more to recruiting than Rivals/Scout/ESPN stars and hype. Despite his relatively quiet high school career, Kelsey Barlow has one the highest ceilings on this team.  If he can motivate himself to address a few of his developing areas (yes, that's a euphemism) I would not be surprised to see him on the All-Big Ten team as an upperclassman.

Partly thanks to Lewjack's broke foot, Kelsey Barlow was given the opportunity to play meaningful minutes from day one. It didn't take long for the entire Boilermaker Nation to finally realized why Matt Painter had singled out Barlow out as such a special player. It's not easily articulated, but Kelsey Barlow just helps the team win.

He showed flashes of a type of player Purdue has not seen in quite some time:

 

Barlow's accelerated acclimation to the offense eased the pain of Lewjack's injury. Many wondered how Purdue would fair without their starting PG, but Barlow answered most doubts quickly. His freshman stat line isn't overly impressive, but his mere presence changed the game and made those around him better. He played in all 35 games and averaged 3.4 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 16 minutes per game. Barlow started the season as a 6th man and eventually earned his way into the starting lineup for 11 games before Lewjack made his return.

While Barlow still proved very capable on offense, his defense is what makes him such a great fit on Matt Painter's team. His suffocating defense caused head-aches for opposing point guards. His 7-foot wingspan became very difficult to dribble around. His size was the perfect compliment to Lewjack's pesky defense upon his return. Defenses now had to account for two completely different, yet effective styles of full court pressure.

He eased a lot of concerns regarding the state of Purdue's defense without Chris Kramer. While CK is obviously irreplaceable, Barlow will play a pivotal role filling the void.

Barlow also brings a certain swagger and attitude that fans will love and Painter will...well...not so much...

He was quickly benched when he attempted a behind-the-back pass against Wake Forest last season during the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. He was also caught giving the choke gesture following Verdell Jones III's missed buzzer beater attempt. While I don't condone the latter,  I found it refreshing to see some emotion out there; Especially against IU. However, it has been said a more mature disposition might benefit his overall game.

 

It's not to say that Barlow's game is without any flaws. His 46 Turnovers might seem high, but they don't seem so bad in comparison to Lewjack's 74 TO's during his freshman campaign. (Lewis Jackson averaged nearly 8 more minutes a game.) Regardless, this should be expected for a freshman point guard so I'm not really holding that against either of them.

Barlow's inability to consistently knock down the open jumper or three pt. FG proved to be a huge liability when Purdue suffered droughts on offense. While he did manage to shoot 44% FG, he rarely took shots outside of his comfort zone. Furthermore, he only attempted a total of 5 3-point FG's and failed to connect on any of them.  Opposing teams caught on to this very quickly, allowing them to sag off the perimeter and crowd the lane.Barlow doesn't need to a be a shooter, but he needs to be able to knock down enough 3's and jump shots to keep the defense honest. If he could manage to do this, his value goes up dramatically.

The good news is, he's already spent his entire off-season attempting to turn his shooting around. Barlow talks about his off-seaon progress:

"I spent a lot of time on my shooting. I've improved my ability to hit the open shot. If I can do that, I can put some teams in a bind. If Lew and I can hit our shots, we'll be a big challenge to the teams we're playing."

Matt Painter sees the improvement in the guards well:

"They have improved their shooting in practice," coach Matt Painter said. "We'll see if that translates into games. I can't play two guys who can't make a 17 footer.

Thanks to Purdue's Preseason Twitter Hype Machines (aka assistant coaches Mike Jackson nd Jack Owens), Barlow is apparently showing up to practice:

10/30 @MikeJack05: "Kelsey Barlow was the best player on the floor today in the scrimmage! Had a great day! Undefeated in our scrimmages so far!!! Big time!!"

10/30 @JOwens30: "Kelsey Barlow was a man to be reckoned with today, inside and out!"

While it's exciting to imagine how Barlow's development would impact the team's future,  thankfully Painter keeps my Kool-aid drinking habits in check.

"We'll see if that translates into games."

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