For a team without many holes, Purdue certainly has a lot of questions. Maybe none bigger than what Basil Smotherman will bring to the team this year. Remember him? The redshirt Junior who took a redshirt last year amidst a crowded rotation to keep one more year of eligibility after seeing his minutes drop from 19 minutes a game his freshman year to just 13 minutes a game his sophomore year.
It’s been over a year since we’ve seen him on the court. What do we remember? What can we expect?
Basil Smotherman - RS Junior
6’6”, 235 lbs
2016-17 Projection: Key Wing/Fringe Starter
Last year’s decision both made sense and was a little strange at the same time. While there was an abundance of talent on the wing for Purdue, Basil wasn’t redundant. He’s the elite athlete we were missing on the perimeter. A six foot six collection of long limbs and quick bursts, capable of guarding 1 through 4 on the floor. His jump shot wasn’t reliable, and his minutes had been declining as better recruits came in, but this kid was a 4 star recruit and 4th best player in the state coming out of high school. He had the best assist to turnover ratio on the team his freshman. He knew what he was. He didn’t try to do too much.
Now he’s had an extra year to hone his basketball skills: his jump shot is smooth, his handle has improved, and he’s got great touch around the basket. He’s still the best athlete on the team. He’s still prone to disappearing on the court.
While watching exhibitions, scrimmages, and the Spain games, there’s been stretches where Basil was the best player on the court. He’s a menace on defense, trapping defenders, playing passing lanes, playing the dribble, and he moves constantly. He’s a force in transition. He hits turbo at mid court and takes off. He finishes, softly now, with a nice touch despite going full speed and over big men. His jump shot is fluid, he’s got nice balance, it occasionally splashes and you just can’t guard him.
Then you don’t see him for five minutes. You forget he’s there. He’ll be too aggressive or just not be there, and on offense he will move around, but aimlessly, without a purpose. To some respect, this is basketball. You don’t always get the ball and he’s never going to be the guy you run an offense through. That’s fine, but he’s got the ability to be an impact player constantly, and that’s what Coach Painter will have to work to get out of him.
Basil, along with Carsen Edwards, is the lightning to a team full of thunder. Transition baskets will be his to have, and he’s going to be left open from deep a lot because he’ll be viewed as the least dangerous option. If he ticks up his 3 pt. shot to 35% or better - he’s 5 of 33 in his career - and he continues to hunt for transition looks, and attack smartly off the ball, he could be a shocking candidate for getting close to double digit scoring most games.
In the same way Carsen Edward’s versatility will find him minutes on the floor in a crowded back court, so should Basil’s. He’ll play the four when Vincent is in foul trouble or we just want to be super quick. He’ll play alongside Vincent to swallow up all passing lanes. He’ll play the two when we want to just hurt teams. Basil’s athleticism will allow him to play with anyone on the roster, and if he’s improved everything else in his year off, he might not find his way off the court very often.
And because it’s a Basil column, we’ve gotta finish with a pun:
Hopefully you like your basketball with seasoning because this Purdue team is looking to put in a lot of Basil this year.