Walk-ons have always had a soft-spot in the hearts of Purdue basketball fans. Bobby Riddell was the beloved Bobby Buckets for four years, earning starters' minutes early in matt Painter's career out of necessity before settling into the role of three-point specialist. Mark Wohlford formed the Wohlf-pack and had some nice moments in his final season. Bubba Day won the National Name Bracket in 2011 as a No. 15 seed. More recently, Dru Anrthop earned a scholarship for his final two seasons and left Purdue in May as the latest beloved walk-on.
This coming season Purdue has a wealth of walk-ons, but with two empty scholarship spots one of them may follow in Anthrop's footsteps and earn more PT as a scholarship guys this season.
Neal Beshears - Jr.
Winchester, IN (Winchester HS)
6'7", 198 pounds
2013-14 Projection: possible contributor
Perhaps the biggest beneficiary in of the exodus of players like Sandi Marcius, Donnie Hale, and Jacob Lawson will be Beshears. Neal was far behind them on the depth chart and was still a walk-on, but with four transfers out and only two grad students coming in there are only 11 scholarship players on the roster. That leaves two scholarships open, and coach Painter has rewarded walk-ons in the past with one of those extra scholarships if they are free. Beshears could also benefit next year, as any "banked" scholarship for the 2015 recruiting class would be open for his final season in 2014-15.
Beshears was a solid player at Winchester in high school. He averaged 18.3 points and 9.6 rebounds while shooting 87.5% from the line for a pretty solid team. He graduated in 2010, but in four years at Winchester his team was an impressive 87-18 and twice lost in the Class 2A state championship. As a freshman his team lost a heartbreaking 78-74 decision to Northwestern (where my nephews attend high school) in double overtime. The next year they lost 69-67 to Deshaun Thomas and Ft. Wayne Luers. As a senior he was eliminated at the regional round by Kevin Ferrell and Park Tudor.
Beshears already got to play against some of the better players in the Big Ten at the high school level, so he could be an asset this season as he enters his third year in the program. He has played in 10 games each season so far at Purdue. In 2011-12 (after attending Maine Central Institute for the 2010-11 year) he scored six points. Last year he had only three points when he hit a three against Hofstra in the second game of the season.
That is ultimate where Beshears can contribute. At 6'7" he has the height to be a decent perimeter shooter, but he'll have to show consistency in practice to gain minutes. More likely, he will be a mop-up guy that sees a little more action because of his seniority over walk-ons Stephen Toyra, Jon McKeeman, and Anfernee Brown. His biggest moment will likely come on Senior night in 2015, where is projected to be Purdue's lone senior during the 2014-15 season.