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Brandon Wood: Will the Boilers Get a One and Done?

The nature of our program is not to recruit one and done players. We want guys who will stick around for a few years and work within an Ubuntu-like team atmosphere rather than be a hired gun on the way to the NBA. I think this is why we scare away the blue chips of blue chips because we want at least a two year commitment. We haven't had a guy leave early (and stay in the draft) since Glenn Robinson, and he made sense because he was the Player of the Year and #1 overall pick, meaning it was a no-brainer for him to leave.

We may be in line for a different type of one and done. Brandon Wood, last year's Horizon League Player of the Year at Valparaiso has declared for the NBA Draft, but hasn't hired an agent. He is also in line to graduate next month, meaning that he could transfer to another school that offers a graduate program that Valpo does not and he would be immediately eligible for his final year. He began his career at Southern Illinois, then transferred to a junior college before playing the last two years at Valpo. That would make him the very rare Division-I player at three different schools. There is a precedent here, as Sam Maniscalco recently transferred to Illinois under similar circumstances.

So far Wood has spoken to Michigan State (who has a spot available scholarship-wise for a one-and-done) and he is trying to talk to Purdue. The spot that we might have had available is going to Robbie Hummel, so we do not have room unless someone transfers or Jacob Lawson goes to a prep school. Lawson going to a prep school would, in turn, shove a 2012 guy to a prep school and likely end any Gary Harris discussion, so I don't see that scenario happening. Still, there appears to be some smoke here if Wood is going to talk to Purdue.

One thing in our favor is that Wood is an in-state kid, so he could, in theory, decide to pay in-state tuition (much cheaper) and just walk-on. He played for my beloved Wildkats and there is no question of his offensive talents. Early in his career he was a "Shoot early, shoot often" guard. At Kokomo this was harmful, as he rarely got his teammates involved and they would often look better when he was on the bench. It was an issue in his very brief time for the Salukis too. He scored 11 points in his debut, but his coach publically called him out for a lack of defense.

After transferring to Valpo he has had some very big games. He scored 30 at North Carolina last season and 39 against Georgia Southern. This season his scoring dropped by a point, but he increased his assists from 2.3 to 3.1 per game. Valpo's record went from 15-17 to 23-12 as a result, and the Crusaders were on the verge of the NCAA Tournament as an at large team until a two game slide the last week of the regular season knocked them from 20-8 and a top 50 RPI to out of the pool.

There is no question about Wood's offensive talent, and that is why I think Purdue would be interested. He averaged 16.7 points per game last season, with a high of 35 in a 103-102 win over Oakland. He can fill it up by creating his own shot and he's a good 3-point shooter (37% for his career). Should he decide to come, I can see him easing the burden of losing E`Twaun Moore while Terone Johnson develops.

How would the minutes be divided?

Here is my projected starting lineup if Wood comes:

PG: Lewis Jackson - Sr.

SG: Brandon Wood - Sr.

SF/3G: D.J. Byrd - Jr. or Ryne Smith - Sr. (depending on matchups)

PF - Robbie Hummel - Sr.

C - Travis Carroll - Soph.

We also have some great depth options:

6th man: Terone Johnson - So.

7th man: Kelsey Barlow - Jr. (I see him as a point forward type)

Hot hand shooter - Anthony Johnson - Fr. (Ryne Smith is here too if we need to go big)

Top reserve forwards: Jacob Lawson - Fr., Donne Hale - Fr.

Backup Center: Sandi Marcius - So.

Deep bench: John Hart - Jr., Patrick Bade - Jr. Dru Anthrop, Jr.

The negative here is that assuming Wood is a walk-on, he pushes Hart as a scholarship player further down the bench. He becomes a luxury in that TJ doesn't need to become E`Twaun 2.0 immediately, but if he does we have two dynamic scoring guards. AJ and Ryno would likely see their open looks from deep open up since Wood is a slasher, so if he can find them we might just need Ryno and AJ to patrol the perimeter and knock down open looks when LewJack and Wood drive to the basket and kick out.

My only question on Wood is his defense. Valpo is far from a defense-first team. In fact, they are quite the opposite of Purdue in that regard. It would be perfect if we could trade out Wood for Barlow in every offense/defense possession change, but basketball does not allow line changes like hockey. Kokomo was 5-16 his senior year and gave up 62.7 points per game. The following season, losing essentially only Wood, they went 13-9 and gave up 55.9. This is far from Wood's fault, but after watching both of those teams it is clear that Wood is only an asset when he is on the same page with his teammates. That will be crucial if he decides to come to Purdue, especially on the defensive end. We cannot have him as a weak link in our defense.

Ultimately, I hope he chooses to come to Purdue and we can find a way to work him into the mix. There is absolutely no question that we could use his offensive talents. In fact, gaining him could put us back in the discussion for the Big Ten title (even though I still believe it is a plausible goal). We should know by May 8th, as that is the deadline for him to pull out of the draft. It looks like we do get to be on Draft Watch one more time.