Saturday is Senior Day for Purdue basketball, and it is a different Senior Day than in recent seasons. We do not have four-year players who have become fan favorites playing their final game in Mackey Arena. This team is too young for that. Instead, we have a graduate student who has been a one-year hired gun and a four-year, little used walk-on who will be honored. It is strange because so much of this team will be back next year. The one four-year player on the roster has played less than a single minute all season. That does not mean he hasn't contributed. Our other senior has been a major surprise and a blessing. There is no question that Purdue would not be in the NCAA Tournament discussion without him.
Neal Beshears - If your first reaction is, "Who?" I am not surprised. The 6'7" forward from Winchester, Indiana played a year at Maine Central Institute before walking on to the team for the 2011-12 season. He is the lone player on the roster who has been on an NCAA Tournament roster with Purdue. Unlike other walk-ons like Bobby Buckets and Dru Anthrop, Beshears has not played much. He got some garbage time in 26 games before this year, but a broken hand kept him out early in the season when he might have played against the likes of Samford or Grambling State.
He has played exactly once this year, getting in late against Indiana at home. In his career he has scored nine total points. During the 2012-13 season when he was a sophomore he hit a three-pointer against Hofstra in the second game of the year for his only points of the season. That was the last time he scored at all. As a freshman the year before he had two points each in a loss to Michigan State, a win over Michigan, and a win over IPFW. For his career he is 3 of 8 from the floor.
So yeah, he hasn't played a lot, but he has been a Boilermaker. He earned a scholarship this year since Purdue had an extra one and that is helping him to get his education since he is majoring in computational science and engineering. He has put in the hard works as a practice player to get everyone else ready. That's the definition of a teammate. Hopefully we get another blowout so he can see some action this season, or maybe coach Painter gives him a minute or two against Illinois since he is a senior. He has earned it.
Jon Octeus - What can we say about Octeus? When practice started in October there were few, if any fans who even knew who he was. After not getting through admissions at UCLA for his graduate program he came to Purdue with his degree from Colorado State and a year of eligibility left. He came at a position of need and he is the only player on the roster that has actually played in the NCAA Tournament.
Boy, are we glad he has come. He has been a calming senior presence that has started every game and might be the team's MVP. For a guy that wasn't even on the roster when the season started he has been the glue that kept this team together. He has played tough, hard-nosed Purdue basketball and it feels like he has always belonged in gold and black. He has made memories, too. His dunk on Collin Hartman will be played for eons in Purdue lore. He has hit some big shots and, until the Michigan State game, has been a solid presence. I am so grateful he became a Boilermaker.