Ryan Cline - So.
6-6, 195 lbs
2016-17 Projection: Key Reserve
Ryan Cline’s counting stats do not pop out at you. He averaged just 3.9 points, 1.2 rebounds, and 1.3 assists a game in just under 14 minutes a game. But he set the school freshman record with a 4.09 assist to turnover ratio which really highlights the nicest surprise of Cline’s game. For someone to immediately step into high leverage college games and just not screw up is huge, especially when you also bring the ability to spread the floor as a potentially elite deep threat.
That’s why the Purdue staff has worked this summer on having Cline expand his game. Watching the Spain games and scrimmages, you can tell they’ve been telling him to try to do more now when the game results don’t matter. Mostly, they want him to expand his ability to affect the game with the ball in his hands. A role that he had in high school, but didn’t even attempt at the college level. His lack of quickness means he’ll never be the type of player that consistently gets to the rim, but his good decision making and passing makes him an intriguing candidate to run secondary pick and rolls or attack a tilted defense rushing to take away his outside shot.
But he’s not there yet. For most of Spain and the scrimmages, running the offense through Cline mostly turned into off the dribble jumpers that aren’t high enough percentage. He’s still a more effective player off the ball, able to make quick decisions - usually to either shoot or pass the ball immediately.
The staff knows they have a luxury with Cline. Because the kid already knows his role and because he’s already got an elite skill, they can spend the summer having him try to experiment and extend his game past what’s comfortable for him. Everything won’t stick. He won’t become an off the dribble sensation or someone who draws a bunch of fouls at the rim, but the more comfortable he gets with the ball, the more he’ll be able to test a defense. Just a little bit more off the ball creativity could be enough to unlock some much needed versatility in an offense that sometimes lacks it.
As is, Ryan Cline is one of the best specialists and shooters in the B10 already. He only made one shot inside the arc all of last season, but connected on 42 of his 109 deep attempts. Ironically, his biggest skill is that he doesn’t over exert himself. He plays within himself and the offense and provides the spacing all offenses need to thrive. He’ll struggle again on offense, but as Purdue fans saw last year, he’s capable of getting hot and taking over the game. He gets open and he’ll knock down shots in a flurry. His coming out party against Pittsburgh was just the start.