I was 500 words deep into my heartwarming 'we shouldn't give up hope' post when the news finally broke.
We know the feeling all too well. Always the bridesmaid; never the bride.
After a fierce recruiting battle, Gary Harris has decided to take his talents to Michigan State University. To their credit, Tom Izzo recruited Harris the longest and built a very solid relationship that ultimately ended up sealing the deal.
Harris selected MSU over Purdue, Kentucky, and Indiana.
And as much as the decision stings, I hold no ill will towards Gary Harris or his family. They took their time, gathered all the necessary information and made a very informed decision. At the end of the day, all you can ask for is that a prospect gives Purdue an honest and equal look. Beyond that, it's up to the kid and his family to determine what's best for him. And if there is no denying that they made a very, very informed decision.
I understand there will be a grieving process among the Purdue fans and that it will inevitably manifest itself as doom and gloom comments, message board posts, and tweets. But keep in mind Purdue was lucky to do as well as they did in GH's recruitment considering they came so late to the table. Less than a year ago GH seemed like nothing but a pipe dream. However, Matt Painter never gave up and made a pretty big splash in the recruitment process. In my eyes, it was all found money. It was widely reported that it was a 50/50 tossup following his visit to MSU prior to his decision. That's something to be said considering the competition.
A Bright Future
The one thing that has gotten lost among all the Gary Harris noise the past 6 months is the spectacular class that signed today and they will be making an immediate impact next season.
The class of 2012 (Rapheal Davis, AJ Hammons, Ronnie Johnson, and Jay Simpson) is still one of Matt Painter's top classes with diverse talent and a lot of upside. They will join a talented team with an established culture and system that will ensure Purdue remains competitive well into the future. Assuming that they all develop at a natural pace, each of the 2012 class members have the potential to be All Big-Ten caliber players under coach Painter.
Beyond that, Painter is off to a great start for the class of 2013. Kendall Stephens, Bryson Scott, and Basil Smotherman are some of the best talents in the area and Matt Painter is likely not done for this class. Further, there are some very good prospects in the class of 2014 and beyond.
Matt Painter once said that: Nothing is ever as good or as bad as it seems.
Those words can be taken to heart. Painter sure as hell won't skip a beat in his recruiting strategy. Next man up.