With Dakota Mathias on board Purdue finally has a 2014 basketball commitment. It seems late in the game because recently Purdue's classes have been filled years in advance, but this time around Purdue is sitting back and waiting see who develops over the summer. The Boilers have several offers out there, but who is the most likely to jump?
First, let's refresh the scholarship situation:
With no seniors in the 2014-15 season Purdue has four open spots, but anything it does not use will be banked for the 2015-16 season. As always, early departures to the NBA, transfers, and dismissals can change all that, but as of now Purdue has four spots. This also can change if a two-year JuCo player signs for 2013-14 and 2014-15, giving Purdue a senior that year.
The Boilers will likely want a big man, as A.J. Hammons would be a junior in 2014-15 and there is a strong chance that he may not even be there. If he has a big year in 2013-14 he is the most likely to leave early for the NBA. Even if he does stay through his junior season it makes sense to hedge by bringing in another big.
Purdue likely will have plenty of guards. Mathias, Bryson Scott, Kendall Stephens, and Ronnie Johnson Purdue a solid backcourt. Rapheal Davis and Basil Smotherman are also considered guard-forwards and can be a solid duo at the three. That tells me Purdue may be looking mostly at size.
Let's say that coach Painter finds JuCo player X over the summer and decides to bank another scholarship for the 2015 class. That mean Mathias would have two more members in his class. Here are my picks in descending order:
Vince Edwards - He is currently the No. 62 player in the nation according to Rivals and we have already lost far too many recruiting battles to Michigan. Reportedly, Edwards is down to Purdue and the Wolverines, with the leader being Purdue if you read the tea leaves correctly. While not a true big, he is a promising power forward that would pair well with a more traditional center. I think he is priority No. 1 right now.
Steve McElvene - Purdue hasn't offered, but they need to. Right now he is starting to come out of the under-the-radar stage and is emerging as a strong rising prospect. All I know is that he passed the eye test when I saw him in person. He is a huge center that plays incredibly strong on the glass and defends the rim extremely well. He played his best basketball in this year's state tournament and was a huge reason that New Haven reached the Final Eight in Class 4A. They almost went farther too, as he was great in their loss to Carmel. McElvene is a true old school post player that won't give you much away from the basket, but is dominant on both ends around it.
Trevon Bluiett - Bluiett is a great player and has a pedigree that few others have: He is a true team winner. I still value actual championships over individual stats and he was a major reason his school won consecutive state championships at the 2A level. Rivals has him as the No. 46 player nationally and he is a versatile guy that can both hit the three and drive to the basket. To me, he is an ideal three in coach Painter's offense. Unfortunately, I think getting him is a pipe dream. When two former HS teammates (Kevin Ferrell and Paul Bayt) are playing at Indiana I would be stunned if we got him.
Isaac Haas - One needs only watch Roy Hibbert in the Eastern Conference Finals right now to see what a true space-eating center can do. Haas seems like that at 7' 275 pounds. Purdue will always be a defensive-oriented team, so give me a guy like this that can hand back and protect the rim.
Tyler Ulis - Will there be room in the back court for him? Because of Scott and RJ I am not sure how many minutes Ulis would get at the point, but he is a true point guard that is a bit like LewJack. It takes something for a 5'8" kid to be rated No. 69 nationally, but Ulis is a distributor that Purdue is on early.
Alec Brennan - I almost feel like Brennan is insurance in case Purdue doesn't get Vince Edwards. He is 6'9" 235 with a solid offensive game, but I'd like to see what he can do on defense. That's why I prefer McElvene at the moment. I have seen with my own eyes what he can do. I haven't seen Brennan.
Jabari Craig - Craig still seems like a project to me, while Haas, Brennan, and McElevene are a little more finished. At 6'10 and only 215 pounds I fear he could be pushed around a little like JJ was as a freshman. That won't happen with Haas and McElevene.