Just six weeks before the first game of the regular season there is some stunning roster news. It was announced today that Donnie Hale became the fourth player to transfer from the program since the end of last season:
Sophomore forward Donnie Hale, a New Albany native, will transfer out of #Purdue, coach Matt Painter announced today. Seeking more PT.— Sean Morrison (@sean_morrison) September 27, 2013
This is a very surprising development for a large number of reasons. First, it comes well into the fall semester. Second, Hale has already lost a year of eligibility because he redshirted during the 2011-12 season.
Last season I felt Hale showed some promise. He was a fairly active rebounder and played in 32 games with eight starts. He finished the year averaging 3.8 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. He shot 43% from the field, but I felt he, like Travis Carroll, could spread the floor from the four position because they both had a decent jump shot. Hale was 1-for-1 from long range, which is an extremely small sample size, but at least he made one.
Another reason this is a surprise is that Hale pretty much gave up on fighting for playing time this coming season and going forward. Now Purdue finds itself reeling after losing three post players that were expected to return. Errick Peck will help, but in the long term losing Hale for the next three seasons is a potentially huge blow. Peck and Carroll were gone after this season regardless. If A.J. Hammons leaves for the NBA after this year Purdue will be dangerously thin in the post.
Just how dangerous? Jay Simpson would be the lone scholarship player listed on the roster over 6'6". That would make the days of JaJuan Johnson backed up by only Patrick Bade seem like overwhelming depth.
Purdue now has two scholarships open for this season even with all the incoming players, one of which will almost assuredly go to walk-on Neal Beshears. Even With Dakota Mathias and Vince Edwards on board for the class of 2014 there are four spots left for the 2014-15 season as well as the 2015-16 season, but again, that year is affected by another other losses and how many sign in 2014.
I have to say I am incredibly surprised by this, especially on the eve of practice starting. I have to think that Hammons has the center position locked down and will be relieved by either Simpson or Carroll. At the four, where Hale most likely would have played, we'll have either Simpson, Carroll, or Peck. The three will be Rapheal Davis, Peck, and Basil Smotherman now.
I do think this opens up a great opportunity for Smotherman. He seems to be the one most likely to get any minutes left behind by Hale. Still, it makes Matt Painter's search for forwards in the 2014 class (and previous losses) even more important now. It also means that the entire 2011 recruiting class is gone as both Hale and Jacob Lawson combined to use only three of their eight years of eligibility at Purdue. Combine that with the fact that the 2009 class saw only one of four players finish his career at Purdue and you have an awful lot of pressure places on the 2012, 2013, and 2014 guys.