Purdue currently has three open scholarships in the class of 2015 after the loss of Jay Simpson. With no seniors in 2015 the Boilers could be short-handed scholarship-wise yet again next season, but the open spots can be used on a wealth of in-state talent. One of those players is one that is quickly rising in the ranks and is a member of a two-time state champion.
Last night I got to see Carmel's Ryan Cline for the second time this season. The first time was in a game at Kokomo. In that game he was much more active as a scorer in a 62-36 win over my Kats where Kokomo honestly did not play well. Last night was a much more competitive 47-43 win over Zionsville in the opening round of the sectional where Carmel had to come from behind to stay alive.
Last season Cline averaged 9.1 points and shot 42% from three for Carmela s they won their second consecutive Class 4A state championship. In the title game itself he had 11 points and connected on three three-pointers. This season he has had a series of big games, including 33 points a few weeks ago at Warren Central.
He only officially has offers from Belmont and Northern Kentucky, but Purdue and Xavier are two programs that are giving him a closer look, mostly because he is becoming more than a three-point specialist:
Cline is a junior, but you would think he is much older by the way he carries himself on and off the court. The examples being set by Carmel head coach Scott Heady and the players who came before him, such as Michael Volovic, contribute to that.
"(He) taught me how to lead and carry myself as a Carmel basketball player," Cline said. "We have a target on our backs because of the name on our jerseys, and we have to play with a chip on our shoulders because of it. Every team wants to beat us. We are their biggest game."
He is working on becoming more than a shooting specialist, but honestly, Purdue needs shooters right now, and Cline is a good one. Last night he was limited to only eight points on 2 of 6 shooting from the field, but that was because Zionsville concentrated on keeping him away from getting good looks. Instead of forcing things Cline was patient and let others do the work, including Zach McRoberts, a Vermont commit that had 16 points.
Cline would be a nice asset for Purdue as a 6'4" three-point specialist. This season he has upped his scoring to about 16 points per game and has been more of a focus for other defenses because Carmel graduated both backcourt starters from last year's championship team. If I were to compare him to a more recent Purdue player it would be Ryne Smith, only he is a little more able to create his own shot.
More importantly, he is a winner. As much as I hate Carmel and their fans, I respect that they are an extremely well-coached team that plays great team defense and does not hurt itself with mistakes. Carmel had only five turnovers last night and they regularly close teams out because they are excellent at the free throw line. Cline is no exception to this. Last night he calmly sank two free throws with 44 seconds left to put Carmel in front 44-40. They were huge free throws, because Zionsville immediately answered with a three-pointer. Cline is part of the top program int he state at the moment and may be weeks away from joining Franklin's Wonder Five of the 1920's, Marion's Purple Reign of the 1980's, and the Conley-Oden teams of Lawrence North from 2004-06 in winning three-straight state championships.
He is a fundamentally sound player, and excellent shooter, and is a winner that knows how to play within a team. that is exactly what Purdue needs right now.