Today's featured player is still a little bit of a mystery and is a freshman eligibility-wise, even though he played in a handful of games and has been a long-time commitment. He attended two high schools, had a brief cameo last year before a foot injury ended his season, and honestly could be the key for a major turnaround depending on his contributions this year.
Jay Simpson - Fr. (RS)
Champaign, Illinois (LaLumiere School)
6' 10", 250 pounds
2013-14 Projection: Major contributor in the frontcourt
At one point coach Painter called Jay Simpson the most talented player on the team. That is high praise for a guy that some have labeled as lazy. Last season was a struggle for him as an offseason foot injury limited his minutes on the trip to Italy. He did see action in the first ten games of the season, scoring 26 points and 23 rebounds as a reserve before he shut it down in order to redshirt and save a year of eligibility. That leaves him as the rare player that could see action in five different seasons.
He comes into the 2013-14 season in a unique position in that he can impact two different positions. He is expected to be a top reserve behind all-Big Ten candidate A.J. Hammons at center, but he could also provide Purdue support against teams with size as a power forward.
One guy that may be doing him some good is senior Travis Carroll. Carroll doesn't have the skills or potential that Simpson and Hammons have, but he is a Purdue throwback that will bust his butt on the court and push guys like Simpson and Hammons to be their best.
This is a big year for Simpson because he may be in training to be The Man in the middle once Hammons is gone. Sure, Hammons is only a sophomore, but the NBA is already whispering in his ear. A solid season with Purdue can see Hammons gone and Simpson left as the lone experienced big man on the roster since Carroll also graduates. Few teams can also trot out a 6'10" guy to protect the lane along with a 7' monster in the post. Simpson would help Purdue the most if he develops into the ying to Hammons' yang.