I don't think many Purdue fans were shocked to hear Jacob Lawson wouldn't be returning to the Purdue basketball team next season, the announcement of which came from the Boilers tonight. (As one of my Twitter followers, @sevans1956 pointed out, he thought Lawson left in January). This is a guy who had walk-ons (besides Dru Anthrop) getting minutes over him during Big Ten play. Lawson last played more than 20 minutes in a game when Purdue beat Illinois to open the Big Ten season Jan. 2.
In fact, the most intriguing thing about the announcement to me wasn't the news itself, it was what Matt Painter's quote in the release said compared to the one released with the news that Sandi Marcius would be transferring yesterday.
Here's today's Painter quote on Lawson:
"We enjoyed having Jacob as a member of our program for two years," Coach Matt Painter said in a released statement. "He's a quality young man and we wish him the best moving forward."
And here's what he said in yesterday's release about Marcius:
"We have invested four years and significant resources into helping Sandi develop from both an educational and athletic standpoint," coach Matt Painter said in the school's official release. "Certainly, having Sandi here for a fifth year was in our plans and we anticipated him having a great final year in our program. We wish him the best in his future endeavors."
Can anything be read into what is said here and the tones they're written in?
I always get the feeling when reading these types of press releases that the school's sports information guy just comes up with the generic quotes to avoid having to pester the coach for one. The Marcius quote struck me as odd, because it seemed like something Painter would actually say, and mean, as compared to some generic quote the SID could come up with on his own.
I read the quote on Marcius as, "Hey, we put a lot of time and effort into turning this guy from a scrub into someone who could actually contribute, at the sacrifice of giving minutes and time to other guys. Now he's flipping us the bird and heading somewhere else at the same time as all our work is coming to fruition. We ain't happy."
The quote on Lawson, on the other hand, I read as, "Good riddance, buddy." (And that buddy should be read sarcastically, similar to when a frat guy calls you "brah" at the bar.)
To me, it seemed like the Painter/Lawson relationship got off on the wrong foot from almost his first day on campus. When Painter wanted to redshirt him, Lawson and his family refused to sit the year out and as a result Donnie Hale became a 21-year-old freshman this year. That, combined with an attitude that seemed to have just a little bit too much Kelsey Barlow in it for Painter to stand, seemed to doom this relationship from the beginning.
In the end, I won't look back on Lawson negatively, though he'll always have that "what if" stigma on him. What if he could have stayed out of foul trouble? What if he had taken that redshirt? What if he had matured into a reliable option? What if he molded his athleticism into real talent? What if?
Instead, his departure leaves Purdue's staff with the opportunity to snag a fourth commitment in the 2013-14 class (note: Purdue currently has ZERO commitments in this highly-talented class), or the ability to snag a 2-year junior college transfer. Either way, the Boilers have two scholarships open to use for next season after this week's transfers. We'll see where they go from here.