Today's featured player may not have near the amount of hype as a certain classmate, but he has the tools to become a special player.
Ryan Cline - Fr.
Carmel, IN (Carmel HS)
6'5", 190 pounds
2015-16 Projection: Contributor at shooting guard/possible redshirt
Yes, there is still a slight possibility Cline could redshirt this season, but his offensive ability could really be a boon to a team that has had a tendency to bog down in the past. Add in his performance in the scrimmages and talk of Basil redshirtting, and I'd say it is a pretty safe bet we see him on the court this year. Especially, if Kendall or Mathias struggle with their shot.
If you've read anything about Ryan Cline, you know he is a good, if not great, shooter. The main thing I took away from watching him with the Indiana All-Stars was how little time and space he needed to get his shot off. Which is ideal, because Big Ten defenses are typically a big step up from the ones you see in high school, with maybe one exception. Another example of how quickly Cline can adjust his shot comes from his 3-point contest win, after which he claimed to have never shot off of a rack until the competition. His combined 7-17 perimeter shooting performance from the intrasquad scrimmages was solid, but we are going to have to wait until late in the non-conference against teams like Butler and Vanderbilt before we truly know how well his skills have transferred to the college game.
Shooting isn't the only part of Cline's offensive game that could help the Boilers this season. I've been similarly impressed with his passing ability. He doesn't seem to hesitate when making the extra pass and he often puts the ball where it needs to be. His ball-handling is solid, but any thoughts of playing him at point guard should probably be dismissed. In the future, it is possible he could develop into the type of player who can bring the ball up the court against the press, but not this season. Overall, his offensive skill set fits very well at the 2 or the 3 spot and comparisons to Stephens and Dakota are extremely apt.
Cline is going to need to improve his defensive ability if he really wants to see significant playing time. This team thrives on defense, and I think Cline will be an asset on that end of the court down the road, but I don't think he is there quite yet. On the plus side, he does seem to have a Purdue-quality work ethic and attitude. When you add in the leadership skills and team-first mentality he's displayed in high school and with the Indiana All-Stars, you get a player that should be a great addition to this year's team and beyond.
Ryan Cline has the tools and the attitude he needs to have a bright future at Purdue. I think the only questions are how bright that future will be, and when will he breakthrough.