While Travis Carroll's role was limited his freshman year, he proved that he brings a lot to the table. Many fans, including myself, questioned if he'd be capable handling the speed and intensity needed to succeed at the next level as a true freshmen. Surprisingly, Carroll proved doubters wrong as he was a consistent contributor in his freshman debut and did exactly what he was called upon to do.
While Matt Painter didn't ask for much beyond rebounding and playing tough defense in Carroll's first year, his role will dramatically change as a sophomore. While no one expects Carroll to fill the void left by JaJuan Johnson by himself, he'll be asked to anchor an largely inexperienced front court.
Travis Carroll's ability to handle the challenge will be a major determinant of Purdue's success for next few seasons.
...No pressure though...
Travis Carroll - Sophomore
Hometown: Danville, IN
6'9, 231 lbs
2010-11 Projection: Starter
Fans might shutter at the thought of a sophomore that averaged only 1.3 pts and 1.9 rebs as a freshman is anchoring Purdue's front court. While the fear of the unknown is justifiable, I've seen enough to feel confident to that Travis Carroll will play a major role in keeping Purdue in the top of the Big Ten.
Admittedly, he couldn't be any more night and day from the All-American he's replacing. He's shorter, less athletic, and slower. But like JJ, he can make everyone else around him better - only in a much different way.
Carroll doesn't make a lot of mistakes and has a very high basketball IQ (sorry, I hate this cliche, but its true…) He just has a great feel for the offense around him. Painter's primary reason for playing Carroll over Sandi Marcius for the majority of last season was the fact that Carroll was much better at passing out of the post. He sees the floor very well and has very soft hands. With Robbie Hummel and Lewis Jackson on the court along side him, we can definitely look forward to some great ball movement.
Offensively, Carroll is as fundamentally sound around the basket as they come. He is very natural in the post, and is very efficient around the rim. If he was 2 inches taller, he'd be an prototypical old-school center. He has a nice drop-step and has developed a pretty nice hook shot.
His jump shot is solid enough that he'll punish the defense if they don't cover him 20 feet out. This proved to very useful drawing his man out and opening up the lane. He shot a team best 52.6% from the floor as a freshman.
Although it will get better with strength, he has already shown that he is a good rebounder. He blocks out well, and has a good feel for where the ball is going. While he's an adequate rebounder at this pounds, with more strength and experience he could be a great rebounder for Purdue.
Defensively, Carroll held his own for the most part, but lack of size and experience was very apparent throughout the season. This was expected, but he still fought hard and faced up against some of the nations top centers. This experience will prove invaluable as he'll be the first line of defense this year.
Obviously, Carroll far from a finished product. He'll greatly benefit from added strength during his next three years. This will help him greatly on defense against big-ten competition. It'll also help him fight for tough rebounds and in the post. Once his size matches his natural abilities, he should be a formidable Big Ten big man.
Thankfully, there is no question if Carroll will do everything he needs to do to prepare himself for the season. Last season, Carroll walked on campus 15 pounds leaner than his HS playing weight and much quicker on his feet. This transformation likely contributed to his ability to see early playing time.
Carroll has been busy this off season as well. He averaged 8 points/5 rebounds for the Global Sports Academy against top competition in the Netherlands (whatever that means). He has also been working into better shape with roommate Ryne Smith (Per Washburn):
Carroll spent all of May conditioning and working out with summer roommate Ryne Smith. Carroll said he was in good shape when the Global Sports Academy team left for Europe. His strength is improved, and he says he is much better at maintaining his base in a defensive stance. Each morning this summer, Carroll and Smith worked on fundamentals: Smith feeding Carroll in the post, and Carroll screening for shooting guard Smith.
Travis Carroll will be charged with the impossible task of replacing All-American JaJuan Johnson, however, he is doing all the right things to ensure that the transition is as successful as possible. If he can build upon what we have already seen him do, he'll make a huge difference.