It's here! Finally, we can begin the basketball countdown as we mire our way through what easily could be another dreary football season. Today marks 50 days until the tipoff of Purdue basketball on November 13, and it begins with #50, our brand new McDonald's All-American and Mr. Basketball freshman.
Caleb Swanigan - Fr.
Ft. Wayne, IN (Homestead HS)
6'9", 250 pounds
2015-16 Projection: Starter at Power Forward
For years it was said that Matt Painter couldn't land the blue chip recruit. Well, he finally did. Swanigan was the No. 9 player nationally in the 2015 recruiting class, and this was after working hard to take extra classes and graduate early from high school since he was originally a 2016 prospect. He comes to Purdue with a laundry list of accomplishments before even playing his first game:
- 2015 Indiana Mr. basketball (Purdue's first since Glenn Robinson in 1991)
- 2015 McDonald's All-American (Purdue's first since Mike Robinson in 1996)
- 2015 Indiana Class 4A State champion with Homestead HS
- Gatorade Player of the Year in Indiana
- FIBA U-19 Gold Medalist at 2015 World Championships
- 1,649 points and 1,048 rebounds in his HS career
There are certain schools that are long-time basketball powers in the state of Indiana. Winning a state title at a place like Muncie Central, Washington, Marion, etc. is simply expected. Homestead is not one of these powers.
Before Swanigan arrived Homestead had only 6 sectional championships, all since 1980, and had never gone beyond the regional round. In his final two seasons Homestead won the difficult Marion Regional and this year played a thrilling 91-90 overtime game against Evansville Reitz to win the title. Their two-game victory in 2014 at Marion was perhaps the most impressive. In the morning game Swanigan was completely dominant in knocking off my beloved Kokomo Wildkats, one of the most experienced teams in the state at the time, 68-60. They then beat No. 3 Hamilton Southeastern in the nightcap 59-57 (this was after Zak Irvin and Gary Harris graduated.
This past season Swanigan knocked off Ryan Cline and Carmel in the Marion regional final 41-37. In the state title game Swanigan was a monster with 20 points, 14 rebounds, and 6 assists. He also nailed a pair of clutch free throws with 1:09 left in regulation and his team trailing by 6. Lest you think he is strictly an interior player, he shot 30% from three last season, so he can shoot the ball a little too from the power forward position.
So yes, we're ridiculously excited to have him. The coverage of his recruiting saga in May led to the largest month of traffic here at Hammer & Rails by a large margin. This was also May, when there was nothing of note to discuss other than Swanigan updates. His position at the 4 allows Vince Edwards to swing out to the three and completely changes the nature of Purdue's offense. The kid is a winner, extremely talented, and earned the rare, "This guy crushed my Kats and made me respect him in doing it" honor.
Welcome aboard, Caleb.