Right now our 2017 recruiting class is trending up with the recent signings of rising stars Aaron Wheeler and Matt Haarms. Both players are versatile and have copious amounts of potential. That being said, work on the recruiting trail is never done for any head coach and Painter still has scholarships up for grabs. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the some potential Boilermakers who have an offer and mutual interest.
Nojel Eastern (6’6” PG or G/F; Evanston, IL)
It depends who you ask, but Eastern is either a point guard, a shooting guard or a small forward. That’s a good thing, because with a recruit like Eastern it that he has the talent to play all three depending on where a school needs him. For us, I think he slots in very nicely at either the 1 or the 2 and would be a great compliment to Carsen Edwards. Eastern is most likely not a one and done player, but he could definitely earn a starting spot on next year’s team.
Nojel Eastern seems like a great, unselfish kid from the stories I’ve found on him. He sounds like exactly the type of player every program should want. He seems to have narrowed his choices down to two choices we are all too familiar with, us and MSU, with a few others still on his list. Apparently he was planning on an unofficial visit this past weekend, after having officially visited in September, but the visit was ultimately cancelled due to a conflict, still the fact that he was interested in coming a good sign. Another plus is that he and his mother seem to really care about academics (she reportedly sent him to schools in Evanston with that in mind) and that is one place we consistently top the school in East Lansing. Izzo also has offers out to two high-rated, though not necessarily better, and similar prospects in Brian Bowen and Gary Trent Jr.. When it is all said and done, I think this is a coin flip between our two storied Big Ten programs and after Jackson and Tillman went the other way earlier this year, I think this time we just might get the most important one of the three to come to West Lafayette.
There is no point in denying Eastern is our most important target right now, but now it is time to look at two international centers that would be big signings. With our trip to the World University Games in Taipei lined up for next August, it could entice at least of these players our way.
Jacob Epperson (6’11” C; La Porte, IN by way of Australia)
Epperson is an interesting case for such a highly-rated recruit, mostly because I have zero idea what schools he is really interested in. Epperson doesn’t use his Twitter account nearly as much as most high school players and he has yet to announce any list of top schools that interest him. He is going to play this season at La Lumiere in La Porte alongside guys like Jaren Jackson Jr., Brian Bowen, and Jeremiah Tilmon (all top 100 recruits). La Lumiere, if you recall, is the prep school where Rapheal Davis and Jay Simpson played their last season of high school ball.
Epperson had a huge summer, rocketed up recruiting boards, and garnered a lot of interest from high-major programs. Painter has visited with the La Lumiere program and no doubt spent some time with Epperson. However, the only time that I can find of Epperson visiting a college was when he went to Illinois earlier this summer. Based on the Illini’s recruits so far I don’t see him heading there, but again I don’t think anyone really has any idea. This article from Rivals does have him mentioning us, Texas, and Marquette specifically so that is reason for optimism.
Felipe Haase (6’10” C; Los Angeles, CA by way of Chile)
Haase had verbally committed to the Colorado State Rams, but after a top-notch performance at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in July he reopened his recruitment. At that tournament, Haase was a star for the Chileans and led all centers in scoring. After his decommitment, Felipe picked up a hand full of offers, including from us, Missouri, and South Carolina. Haase will reportedly visit Mizzou this weekend. Also, according to one source, he has visits scheduled with us later in the month and Louisville, but I have not found that mentioned from any of the major sites. Like Epperson, I think we have a shot here, but international recruits are a bit harder to find information on.
This would be a very impressive recruiting class if we could land Eastern and either one of these centers. On the other hand, if we miss out on two of them or all of them, don’t fret too much. We have gotten some great players late in the game in the past. Add in the possible sanctions coming against Louisville and other programs, and we could see a lot of great recruits like Malik Williams looking for a new home.