With basketball season in the rearview mirror I figured I would take a look at every player on the roster and highlight some of their individual contributions. There is no question that some players contributed more than others, but with virtually everyone eligible to return next year it is important to see how each player grew individually.
I will go down the list by class order, with our two seniors leading off. Tomorrow I will get to our second senior, but let's begin with arguably the team MVP:
Jon Octeus - Graduate Student
9.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.0 spg, 49% FG, 33.3% 3FG, 72.4% FT
Was Octeus the team MVP? You could definitely make a case for it. He is one of two players (the other being Rapheal Davis) that started every single game. He was a calming veteran presence on a team that was still extremely young. He was the only player that had experience playing in an NCAA Tournament before a week ago.
What's amazing about Octeus is that he came to the team after practice started in October, but never felt out of place. There was not a single game where he felt like an outsider, as he immediately adapted and exhibited what it means to be a Purdue basketball player. He played tough-nosed defense, rarely forced things, and was a true team leader even as the newest member on the roster.
That is what is so astounding. Octeus was basically the perfect fit for this team, and it shows in the numbers. He was third on the team in scoring, second in rebounding (with an important 54 offensive rebounds too) and second behind Vince Edwards in assists. His intangibles for this team were invaluable. I don't think Purdue is an NCAA Tournament team without Octeus.
While his scoring was down from 13.4 ppg in his final year at Colorado State, that is understandable when he did not have to score as much. He was able to pick his spots and his shooting percentage soared from 40.6% to 49%. He also jumped from 73 to 89 assists and even had a career high seven blocks.
Many of his best statistical efforts came in losses as Purdue tried to frantically get back into the game. He had a season high 17 in the loss at Minnesota, and he was instrumental in helping Purdue get back in that game. This came after a two-game stretch where he had 14 points and 7 rebounds each against Northwestern and Ohio State in victories. His 13 points, seven assists, and four rebounds at Penn State were critical in the game that basically turned Purdue's entire season around.
He tried for a similar highlight dunk against Cincy in overtime in the NCAA Tournament, but missed. It still does not take away from this dunk, one of the best ever from a Purdue player for its sheer ferocity. The fact that it came in Bloomington makes it even better.
Final Grade: A+
Getting a one-year transfer is a hit-or-miss proposition. Most times they only have a few months to adapt to a new team and a new system. With Octeus, that situation was accelerated and he looked like he always belonged in a Boilermaker uniform. I think I speak for most fans when I say I wish he had another year or two to be with us to see what else he could do. His transition was as smooth as it could be and he fit in better than even last year's two one-year transfers. He came at position of great need and even after the team got off to a slow start he still helped them band together to make a great run in the Big Ten. When you combine that with a play against a bitter rival that will be remembered virtually forever I think you can say he had a great year.
It would be nice if Jon could get a look professionally overseas. Enough other guys have gotten some time in. If not, I hope his graduate work done this year helps with the degree he already has from Colorado State.