Yesterday the Indiana High School Basketball State Finals took place at bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. With Purdue's 2014 and 2015 classes completely open and a few targets playing I thought it was a great chance to get out and see some of the players Purdue has expressed an interest in.
In total, there were five players that have official Purdue interest. Justin King and Davon Dillard helped Bowman Academy win the Class 4A title. Ryan Welage and Sean Sellers helped Greensburg win the 3A title in overtime. Finally, Jalen Coleman and Cathedral came up short by 4 in the 4A game. There were a few other players I will try to write about later this week that might be interesting (including a 2013 player that is a late bloomer and is definitely worth a look if there is an open spot) but these five are the main ones Purdue has expressed an interest in.
As you can see above, There are currently three spots open in the 2014 class that has no commitments. Depending on how that class fills out there will be anywhere between two and five spots open for 2015. That class seems to be in the most flux as there can be transfers and we should land at least one commitment. As far as 2016 goes, if there are no transfers and every spot is taken in the next two classes there would be four spots open.
As we know, as early as the 2014 class can change drastically based on transfers, if A.J. Hammons jumps to the NBA early, etc. For now, let's operate under the assumption that no one leaves early and every spot is filled.
The first player I am focusing on is Jalen Coleman, who would be part of a two-man class and is graduating in 2015, so he has two more years of high school. Coleman played in last night's Class 4A title game and was pretty much the lone reason Cathedral had a chance at the end of the game. Cathedral started very poorly and was down 21-6 after one quarter and 30-15 at halftime. Coleman had nine of their first half points, however.
Coleman is generally regarded as the top player in the state in the 2015 class. At 6'3" he already looks the part of being a major college player, so he needs to be a priority in this class. For the season he averaged 14.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.1 assists for a Cathedral team that was 25-6, but played a very difficult schedule. They split four games with Indianapolis tech (probably the team with the most raw talent in the state), lost twice to Carmel, and lost to Warren Central and Detroit Romulus. They beat 2A champ Bowman Academy, Ben Davis, tech (twice), and won the Indianapolis City tourney.
Coleman is an excellent three-point shooter, which is a testament to how good Carmel's defense is. He was 45.7% from long range on the season but Carmel barely gave him any space on the perimeter. He hit 2 of 7 from long range last night and finished with 15 points. His numbers were even better when you consider Cathedral had to kick two players off the team earlier this season and Collin Hartman was a virtual no-show on offense for 24 minutes. Hartman,w ho is going to IU, was scoreless until he hit a 30-footer to end the third quarter. He had five points in the fourth quarter as Cathedral came back and cut it to two in the final 10 seconds, but Hartman was 3 of 13 for the game with 8 points, below his 12.1 points and 50% shooting averages.
Coleman is quite athletic. He can get to the basket and has an excellent jump shot. Carmel just happens to be one of the best defensive teams in the state (and they got damn near every call in the fourth quarter), so there is no shame at all in his 5 of 14 night. Carmel is just that good defensively. At the line Coleman was 75.7% on the season and was right on that by going 3 of 4 last night.
In my opinion, Purdue has to go after this kid with everything to try and get him. He has two more years to develop and there is a ton of potential for him to be a star. He already has offers from Purdue, Indiana, Notre Dame, Illinois, and Ohio State. It is a chance for Painter to secure a big-time player too. I saw Basil Smotherman at a similar point in his career and Coleman is better. He's a confident player, a dynamic scorer, and just carries himself extremely well. When the senior Hartman was shying away from the spotlight and the Cathedral fans behind me were pleading for him to do something Coleman stepped up instead.
He led his team on the season in field goals made (82) and attempted (190). He's going to be tested for the next two seasons against the best teams in the state because Cathedral plays all the top Indiana teams given their independent status. They'll play most of the Indianapolis area top teams plus a statewide schedule against the likes of Lake Central, Bowman Academy, Lafayette Central Catholic, and even LaPorte LaLumiere (whom they beat 70-59). People have longed for Painter to seal the deal on a big name. Well, this would be a huge one.