As Jeff Washburn of the Journal & Courier mentioned yesterday, this is the month where Purdue's 2014 basketball recruiting class will take shape:
But the key here is that it's time for Purdue to sustain the strength it has gained with the 2012 and 2013 groups. Those are eight really good players, but it will take more to win consistently in the Big Ten, especially if the 7-foot Hammons leaves for the NBA after the 2013-2014 season, which is likely if he performs to his potential this time around.
As he mentions, there is a great core in place for the next several seasons with eight players on the roster having at least three years of eligibility left. Unlike the great 2007 class, however, Purdue has to sustain that momentum. The 2014 class goes a long, long way towards doing that as it is one loaded with talent.
We already know that Dakota Mathias, who recently cracked the Rivals top 150, is on board. That leaves four spots open for 2014. With no projected seniors during the 2014-15 season any commitments effect the 2015 class, though the likelihood of someone like A.J. Hammons going pro early is strong. So even if Purdue uses all four open slots there is a strong chance at least one opens back up by 2015, as I don't think Hammons stays all four years unless he greatly regresses.
With that in mind, here is how I would rate the targets in terms of who we need to get:
First: Vince Edwards - 6'7" - Middletown, Ohio - Edwards is famously down to two schools: Purdue and Michigan. The Boilermakers have been after him hard from the beginning and simply put, this is a battle we really need to win. He is ranked 80th on the ESPN 100 and is a versatile player that can do a lot for Purdue. More importantly, he fits extremely well with what we already have.
Second: Trevon Bluiett - 6'5" - Indianapolis, Indiana - What surprised me the most is that Washburn thinks Purdue is third in the running for Bluiett behind UCLA and Michigan. UCLA, of course, just hired Steve Alford, who is famously the only coach to lose to a 14 seed twice in the NCAA Tournament. Michigan has also been the recent bane of our recruiting existence and getting both Bluiett and Edwards away from us would really sting. I originally thought Bluiett was a lock for Indiana because of Kevin Ferrell, but maybe not.
I like Bluiett because he is a winner. He played a key role on back-to-back state championship teams at Park Tudor and even though they played in Class 2A, they were probably the best team in the state in 2012. He is 41st on the ESPN Top 100 and might be the leader in the clubhouse for 2014 Mr. Basketball, especially if he adds a third state championship in four years.
Third: Tyler Ulis - 5'9" - Matteson, Illinois - Purdue is definitely in the running here, but don't be surprised if the No. 38 prospect in the nation ends up at Michigan State. He has already called it his dream school and he has an offer. Of his seven offers only Purdue and Michigan State are anywhere close to being considered regular contenders. DePaul and Northwestern are getting the hometown mentions, however.
Fourth: Steve McElvene - 6'11" - Fort Wayne, Indiana - I know Washburn mentioned Michael Chandler, but I have no desire for a wishy-washy 2-year JuCo kid with academic problems. I believe that was called Chris Booker. The best case scenario is two years of Chandler, while McElvene would possibly be a four year player and has some connections to Bryson Scott already.
Yes, McElvene is relatively unknown, but I saw with my own eyes in March that the kid can play and have been driving his bandwagon ever sense. Clemson and Xavier have shown interest, but I feel like we can get him if we offer. Unfortunately, there is no official offer yet. It's too bad too.
Fifth: P.J. Thompson - 5'10" - Indianapolis, Indiana - This is another rising, impressive player I saw last season. The one game I saw was against a highly ranked Lebanon team and he took over in the second half in a come from behind victory. Thompson is a solid point guard that would be perfect insurance for Ronnie Johnson for a year or two before taking over in his own right. That frees up Scott to be at the two and gives the Boilers two very good point guards.