Long time lurker on H&R, and I rarely post, but I couldn't resist.
I had the fortune/misfortune of seeing most of Purdue's basketball games this past season thanks to my landlord randomly having Big 10 network in his cable package (I live in GA, this was a pleasant surprise). I wanted to write about the youth on the team as it stands, and hear what other people have to say in one, very comprehensive post.
So, I ask....of the incoming freshmen and soon to be sophomores on the team next year, who are you most excited for next basketball season, and why?
My vote has to be Davis. He showed that he had a mid range game, could hit from 3, and could drive through contact during the rare times the lane was clear last season. Not to mention the kid rebounds like a boss when he's not scoring. I wouldn't be surprised if he took over a game or two next season and dropped 25+ points on someone. With Terone able to hit the 3 more convincingly, and an incoming freshman who can shoot the 3, the lane should open up a bit next year.
After Davis, its a wildcard for who else might break out. I think we've seen Hammons ceiling a couple times this past season. That ceiling is high, but I'll be disappointed every game he doesn't drop at least 14 points, snag 6 boards, and block the heck out of 1 or 2 would-be-shooters next year. I expect a couple more huge games, but I won't be the least surprised if he slumps for a couple weeks here and there as well.
I also have tempered expectations for Ronnie. I expect that A/T ratio to get better, and I expect him to come out with a 3 in his repertoire. Don't cringe...he wouldn't have taken so many this year if he didn't believe he could hit them. Probably just fell into a funk until Painter told him not to take anymore. I'm not sure what his 3pt% was in high school, but I'm willing to bet he works on it in the off season and comes out taking 2-3 looks/game next year, if he gets open. Either way, I think he improves, but isn't ready to break out.
Simpson is a huge wildcard. We hear good things about his talent, and how no one can guard him in practice. But how well does he play in Painter's offense? And what kind of shape will he be in? The motion offense can be taxing for a bigger player...Also, can he defend? These are huge questions to have to answer. I'm excited, but I'm keeping my expectations in check.
Hale is another mystery. Boy couldn't fight through a screen to save his life, and was a liability on defense this season. That being said, the dude's shown he's loyal, wants to play for Purdue, and I have every belief that he'll hit the gym and bust it to be ready for next year. But what's his ceiling?? Are we looking at another Carroll (no offense Tacos, you're actually one of my favorite players on the team) or could he be a stud in the making?
Now it gets tricky. Expectations are high for the incoming class, but I think we have to be cautiously optimistic. They all sound like they're tough, have good leadership, and I'm stoked to hear that Smotherman's stock is rising as he fills out his frame. That being said, none of them are top 50 players, and we have already decent guards on the team in Davis and the Johnsons, so how much PT are Stephens and Scott going to get? Of the three, I am most excited for the immediate impact that Stephens may bring. Having a guy come in and shoot between 35-45% from 3 would be amazing, but can he defend, and is he big enough to survive big 10 play and earn enough minutes to take all those 3s?. Meanwhile, I have the most tempered expectations for Smotherman. I think he'll be really good, but since he's still growing and filling out his frame, it might take a year or two, especially in big 10 play. As for Scott, I really hope some of the comments about being "tough as nails" and "aggressive on defense" are true. I would love to see him punish some smaller guards in his career, and get to the rim against slower guards, a bit like a slightly more offensively minded Kramer, if you will. I do worry where he fits in though. If he plays the point, what does he offer over Ronnie? I've also read he's more of a scorer, and less of a true PG, but is he big enough to play the 2? Of note, I've not seen any of these guys play. I understand Stevens has a sweet shot, but Scott and Smotherman might just throw up floaters and layups for all I know.
Anyways, I'll shut up now. Let me know what you guys think.