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July Evaluation Period Highlights Bright Future for Purdue Basketball

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There is no better time of the year to gauge the future of the Purdue basketball program than the month of July.

The July evaluation period gives rabid Purdue basketball fans the opportunity to see Purdue's(possible) future. The tournaments held this month features many Purdue commitments and targets playing along side  the nation’s top prep athletes. These AAU tournaments have much stiffer competition than a typical high school schedule can provide (unless you play for Lawrence North, of course).
While most participating athletes would love to win the tournament titles, the underlining motivator is the opportunity to attract exposure from college coaches, scouting services, and the media. July marks the beginning of a limited contact period for head coaches, thus opening the door for possible scholarship offers.  An impressive July could be the difference between a mid-major and a high-major  scholarship offer for some players. Needless to say, these high stakes make the environment pretty damn competitive.
The July evaluation period also gives us an opportunity to follow Matt Painter’s footsteps and identify his future targets and as well as where his priorities lie. Lucky for Painter, he doesn’t have to leave the state to immerse himself in elite talent.  Unless gas money is not an issue, I wouldn’t really recommend actually following Matt Painter’s footsteps during the July evaluation period. Painter covers more ground than a campaigning politician does in November.  His efficiency at moving from tournament to tournament so seamlessly has led me to the conclusion that his has hired Fed Ex to coordinating his travel logistics. (Either that, or he has successfully cloned himself.) I apologize, I digress.
The performances of players with Purdue interest have been very encouraging. Purdue commitments are shining, and Matt Painter’s targets are among the cream of crop (in some very, very loaded classes).
 Here is a review of some of Purdue’s targets and commitments during the past few weeks.

Class of 2011

The class of 2011 is going to be tense for the next nine months. With one (maybe two) scholarships to give to along side Donnie Hale, Painter has been nourishing the limited scholarship offers he has already extended. The two players he has been recruiting from the beginning continue to take top priority. Painter has made it very clear that forward Branden Dawson and guard Chasson Randleare his top two priorities.  With neither rushing to make their decisions, Painter may be waiting until next year before one of them pulls the trigger.
Donnie Hale (Commitment) – Attending prep school next year allows Donnie Hale to play AAU ball an additional year. Playing for the Spiece All Indiana team, Hale didn’t impress offensively , but his shot blocking raised some eyebrows. His wingspan and athleticism will be a huge asset to Purdue’s D. 
Chasson Randle (Target) – Chasson Randle missed the first half of the evaluation period as he was helping USA U-17 team bring home the gold in Germany. This is Randle's second straight gold medal.  Randle averaged 7 points on the blue-chip heavy USA  team and shot 60%.  For a recruitment perspective, Painter showed how serious he was about Randle by sending assistant coach Jack Owen to Germany to watch one of his games. Mike Mullins (@Wolves10), Randle’s AAU coach, tweeted it best: "When a school travels to Germany to watch you, Chasson, on first day of live period that might tell how high they think of you!Well Done !" For what it's worth, there was also a coach from Stanford...
Branden Dawson(Target)  – You can’t visit a Purdue message board or blog without seeing Branden Dawson’s name mentioned somewhere...and this won’t subside for quite some time. Dawson is the potential gem of the class of 2011 and he continues to live up to the hype. His play in the King City Classic is enough to have Purdue fans salivate at the thought of him wearing Black and Gold.   According to many credible (EX) experienced scouting analyst, Dawson has reinforced, if not improved, his borderline 5-star ranking. One report stated:

"Dawson has displayed an expanded skill set. He has shot the ball well from behind the arc and has looked good with the basketball in the open court."

Here are a couple of Dawson-related tweets worth a thousand words: "Branden Dawson just knocked down two deep three-pointers. If he adds that with some consistency then watch out!"(@thebballreport) and "Short of stealing an old woman's purse/flunking out of school (neither is an option) Branden Dawson is gonna get a McDonald's vote from me"(Scout’s @DaveTelep). Painter was seen in Cleveland to watch some of Dawson’s games. After hearing some of his game reports, I am not sure Painter should ever leave his side...
2011 Diamond in the Rough: One of the players Matt Painter is closely monitoring this July is 6’7" forward Andrew Smeathers (Center Grove). The late bloomer’s size, handles, and stroke inevitably draws the comparisons to former Butler standout Gordon Hayward.  Those are some pretty lofty expectations to say the least. According to Smeathers, Purdue and Butler could be on the fringe of offering by the end of July:

"Butler has told me they'll know by July 15th or 16th if I'm going to have an offer," Smeatherssaid. "Purdue said they will watch me more closely in the month of July. I think they have a couple other kids that they are looking at. I would love to go to either Purdue or Butler, but it depends what's available."

But in all honestly, I will be surprised if Painter extends an offer. Nothing against Smeathers, but Painter has put in too much time with Randle and Dawson to (more or less) close out the class now. But it’s nice to know we have an almost guaranteed commitment.

Other 2011 Notes: a.) Marshall Plumlee has committed to Duke and UNC just recently offered Cody Zeller. Not that Purdue was in great shape for either, but at least now people will stop getting their hopes up.

b.) To be honest, I have not been following Chane Behanan's recruitment as close as I should. Maybe it's the dearth of in-roads Purdue recruiting has had in Kentucky, but I have had very little confidence in his recruitment.  I do admit though, he does mention Purdue an awful lot in his ever-changing 'lists' and he has visited Purdue a couple times since Christmas. The latest word is that Purdue is in "really good" shape. Context or not, Behanan might be someone we keep a closer eye on.

Class of 2012

With the class of 2012 (more or less) closed out, I find the atmosphere less tense than that of 2011. Instead of watching and thinking what if,  we can sit back, relax, and enjoy the development of these future Boilermakers. In the early Rivals Top-100rankings, commitments Jay Simpson (#78) and Rapheal Davis (#95) were given 4 stars while Kyle Molock has yet to be evaluated. Thankfully, it appears that all of Painter’s early commitments have avoided complacency and have continued to develop and refine their game. Interesting fact: Purdue has 2 of the 3 committed 2012 top-100 players in the country.

Rapheal Davis (Commitment)– Rapheal Davis ran the point for SpieceIndy Heat (2011) and opened the Hoosier Shootout witha bang. Davis scored 20 points in his first outing and followed that up withan efficient 8 point 7 assists outing (before sustaining a concussion which ultimately ended his tournament early). By many accounts, Davis is playing better than he ever has before. From the few times I have seen him play, his outside shooting was an area that needed a little work,  but it appears that he has progressed in this area by leaps and bounds. His size, ball handling, and now shooting touch makes him one hell of a prospect. If he continues to refine his game, you will start hearing E’Twaun Moore comparisons. He has a physical aspect of his game that EM is just starting to tap in to. Davis tends to get lost in the shuffle with such a loaded class in the state, but Davis should not be overlooked. With two more high school season to continue to develop, the sky is the limit for the rising junior. He has the potential to make an instant impact when he arrives on campus.

The Spiece Indy Heat will be competing in the Top-24 Nike Peach Jam on July 15th.

Jay Simpson (Commitment)– There has been a lot of hype around Jay Simpson since the conclusion of his high school season. After spring AAU ball, he was dubbed the top prospect in his class in Illinois. (Not a bad get considering he’s from UI country.) At 6’8"/230, he has the build of a bruiser. However, it’s his speed and range that sets him apart from other prospects his size.  This weekend’s Baylor Youth tournament in Highland was Simpson’s shot at playing up on the Illinois Wolves 17-year-old team. Despite coming off the bench and playing along side two future Big Ten Big’s (Nnanna Egwu and center Frank Kaminsky),  Simpson led the team with 14 points and 6 rebounds. The Wolves AAU coach, Mike Mullins, discussed Simpson’s potential with GBI:

"He's as gifted as any kid we've had," said Mullins, whose Wolves alumni include Evan Turner, Demetri McCamey and John Shurna, among others. "... We talk to all our kids about this, but just had the conversation with Jay this week: 'At some point in time you have to stop playing basketball and start working at it. You're good when you're young because you're talented, but when you work at it the results go up exponentially."

It's hard not to get excited about this guy!

Kyle Molock (Commitment) – Residing in Dublin, Ohio, Kyle Molock's  team is less visible. Last month, Molock and his Dublin Coffman team participated in the Boilermaker Shootout team camp in West Lafayette, IN. Jeff Washburndescribes Molock's game

"Molock is a true point guard who has an excellent knack for defense. He will score when called upon, but he is heady and would rather make a nice pass that leads to a basket than force a shot. Several times on Thursday, the Dublin (Ohio) Coffman point guard penetrated into the teeth of the defense and fired a bullet pass to a wide-open teammate on the wing for an easy bucket."

I have yet to see him play in person, but he has definitely impressed people who have. He seems to have the mentality of a Boilermaker to. I would just feel a little bit more confident if looked to score a little more, but maybe it'sa moot point with the talent that will be surrounding him.

Class of 2013

As exciting I am about the progress that the class of 2012 has made,admittedly, I am slightly more excited about the potential that Painter's class of 2013 holds. The early time Matt Painter put in with stand-outs Collin Hartman, Devin Davis Jr., and Basil Smotherman have put Purdue in very, very strong position to land some of Indiana's (and the Nation's) top prospects. Indiana may have the deepest 2013 class in the country and Painter has built solid relationships with the top of that class. As evident as the number of elite coaches filling the gyms to see these prospects, Painter will not land any of these guys without battling some big-time programs.

Collin Hartman (Target) - Collin Hartman is the next Robbie Hummel. There, I said it. Anyone who disagrees needs to attend one of his games. Hartman does just about everything, and has the size (currently 6'6") to create mismatches. Hartman led his talent-packed Indy Elite team (U-15) as they won the Adidas Tournament Championship. From the sound of things, the Hartman battle might come down to Purdue and Illinois. But if he continues to play like has recently has, he will have just about everyone in the nation knocking on his door. 

Interesting Collin Hartman fact: Hartman has built a friendship with Chris Kramer and Robbie Hummel. In his own words:

"It's kind of fun to see him on TV and say, 'Hey, I know that guy,'" he said. "I got to play on his team and we were joking around about stuff and then after the game, me him and Chris Kramer sat down and talked about college life and had a casual talk about the transition (from high school). It was fun. It was good to get to know them."

I am not recruting expert, but that can't hurt...

Devin Davis(Target) - Devin Davis Jr.'s athleticism mixed with his size (6'5) makes him a very interesting prospect. The Scout 4-Star recruitplays along side Basil Smotherman on the Eric Gordan All-Stars team and does a little bit of everything. According to @IndySportsBlog, he was 'a monster on the boards' this week.  But he still makes a huge impact. 

Jeff Washburn elaborates on what he liked best about Davis following the Boilermaker Shootout Team Camp:

"The 6-5 Davis, from Fort Wayne South, has the potential to be a scoring machine. His perimeter shot has improved, and he is not afraid to take the ball to the basket. Davis is a smooth player -- not someone who looks like he just completed his sophomore year of high school."

Painter is in good shape with him as he blogged about his recent trip to Purdue for the Indystar. He is another very realistic pickup for the class.

Basil Smotherman Jr.(Target) - Smothermanis another Scout 4-Star prospect that Purdue has a very good shot at. The 6'4" SF plays with great energy and has a variety of offensive weapons that can punish his defender. Jeff Washburn points out one of the best aspects of Basil Smotherman Jr. following an impressive showing at the Boilermaker Shootout team camp: 

"The other impressive thing about Smotherman, Jr. is his maturity. The kid is well-spoken and mature well beyond his years. It's easy to understand why Painter and his staff are in hot pursuit of this kid."

Other 2013 Notes: PF Alex Foster (Chicago) and G Bryson Scott  (Ft. Wayne) are two other prospects with ties Purdue. It's so early, there are bound to be many additional names popping out over the next couple years as well. Edit: Purdue seemed to be the first to offer Bryson Scott, but defnitely not the last. He averaged over 18 points in three IBCA wins.