Sunday afternoon three seniors will play their final regular season game in Mackey Arena. There is a chance they will get another game or two in either the NIT or the CBI, depending on what happens over the next week, but Sunday may be the final time we see three players in a Purdue uniform.
It is a strange senior day too. A pair of players are wrapping up four-year careers that started when they were recruited during a Big Ten championship season. One player has already finished his career and will be honored in street clothes after he was with us for less than a full season before injury ended things. The fourth and final senior was also a one-year transfer, but came from the same high school as a player that was recruited with the two four-year guys, but is finishing his career at another school.
All four are members of our Purdue family, however.
Sterling Carter - Sterling was only a Boilermaker for 27 games, but will always be remembered for one of the final collegiate games he ever played. Carter was a one-year hired gun from the University of Seattle and came in to provide both leadership and shooting. For much of the Big Ten season he was one of Purdue's top defenders and constantly brought the effort and competitiveness that Purdue has lacked from other players for much of the season.
One of his final games was a 19-point effort in the blowout win over Indiana on February 15. Carter connected on five three-pointers and scored Purdue's first 10 points of the second half to end a four-game losing streak to the hated Hoosiers.
As you know, we lost Carter to a torn ACL (of course) a week later against Nebraska. The injury ended Carter's college career with 888 points, costing him an outside chance at 1,000. Even though we had him a short time Carter will be remembered for his role in helping Purdue to a win over Indiana, which always keeps players in high esteem.
Travis Carroll - Ah, Tacos. Carroll was expected to come in and be a quality backup during the 2010-11 season as JaJuan Johnson and Robbie Hummel played most of the minutes in the low post on our way to a Final Four and possible National Championship. Fate made sure it did not work out that way, and Carroll spent most of his career as what he is now: a backup providing spot minutes at the five, but not quite athletic enough for the four. He has even had a DNP in four games this season, but he has always been a player in the Purdue mold of things.
Travis is not the best player on the floor, but he is always going to play hard and play smart. With only 222 career points this season has been his least productive with only 31 points. Most of his baskets have been putbacks and he has only 10 points in Big Ten play. He has still been a leader by example. He knew A.J. Hammons and Jay Simpson were ahead of him, but he tried to push them both as much as he could in practice.
In some eyes his career is a disappointment because he never got demonstrably better from his freshman season, but he has played hard every second he has been on the floor, even when we have asked him to do more than he could do. That's enough to earn my respect.
Terone Johnson - TJ will finish his career with over 1,300 points (he has 1,298). He is currently 25th all-time on the school scoring list and can still catch Mike Robinson (1,322) and Willie Deane (1,328) before all is said and done. Still, he has drawn a ton of criticism this year for not being the senior leader people wanted him to be and because he can't hit a free throw to save his life. It is strange to say for a guy that has had the career TJ has had, but we expected more.
That's not to say it hasn't been fun to watch him. TJ is one of the few players on this team that can take over and dominate for long stretches of play. He is just as likely to frustrate you as drop 30 on some unsuspecting fools, and it even happens in the same game sometimes.
I admit I was one guilty of expecting more. When I saw him play as a senior in high school (against Travis Carroll, no less) I thought he could be the second coming of E'Twaun Moore. With a year to learn from Moore himself I thought he could be the next Red Button, but it never worked out.
Terone will still leave Purdue as one of our best scorers ever, and I am grateful he became a Boilermaker.
Errick Peck - A high school teammate of Kelsey Barlow, we gained a player that in many ways was what we always wanted Barlow to be. Peck is the second one-year hired gun we got, as he played for Cornell for three seasons, but in his one season at Purdue he has been a great dirty work guy and one that will be missed.
Peck made an immediate impact by hitting a critical three-pointer with less than a minute left as Purdue trailed Northern Kentucky by four in the season opener. He has been the team's second-best rebounder behind Hammons and has been particularly effective on the offensive glass. He can hit the occasional three-pointer and is an effective defender in the paint.
It would have been interesting to see what would have happened had we originally recruited Peck instead of Barlow. Barlow was the more talented player, but Peck was a player more in the Purdue mold of doing all the dirty work needed to win.