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2015-16 Purdue Basketball Player Reviews: Kendall Stephens

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While we wait for Kendall Stephens' final decision we review a tumultuous year for him.

Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

Well, this review certainly got a lot more interesting yesterday afternoon. Kendall is currently in limbo as we await the "will-he-or-won't-he" on his return for his senior season. This is not your typical limbo, either. He hasn't declared for the NBA. He is merely trying to decide if he would like to transfer out of the program or not. If he leaves, he has to sit out a season unless he graduates this summer, which according to some sources seems like a possibility. If he returns, he will be Purdue's lone scholarship senior. First, let's look at the scholarship grid:

Player

('16-'17)

('17-'18)

('18-'19)

('19-'20)

Kendall Stephens

Senior




Basil Smotherman

RS Junior

RS Senior



Vince Edwards

Junior

Senior



Dakota Mathias

Junior

Senior



Isaac Haas

Junior

Senior



P.J. Thompson

Junior

Senior



Jacquil Taylor

RS Sophomore

RS Junior

RS Senior


Ryan Cline

Sophomore

Junior

Senior


Caleb Swanigan

Sophomore

Junior

Senior


Carsen Edwards

Freshman

Sophomore

Junior

Senior
















Scholarships Used

10

9

4

1

Scholarships Left

3

4

9

12

If he leaves Purdue is left with nine scholarship players for 2016-17, two of which lack significant amounts of playing experience and one who hasn't played in a year. His potential departure does not affect Purdue at all for 2017 because he was going to be gone by then, anyway. Think of a potential offer for Desmond Bane as a replacement for Grant Weatherford, while Kendall's departure would more likely be filled by a graduate transfer. The thing is, there is playing time there. This makes some of the comments that have come from his mother kind of odd:

Kendall has played a lot in the past and will play a lot in 2016-17 if he returns. In fact, I would say he is a critical player for the coming season.

Kendall Stephens

6.1 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 0.9 apg

It is very hard to judge Kendall's season because his minutes drastically fell off a cliff after the loss at Illinois. He then played only 30 minutes in the next three games before missing three more entirely due to the death of his close friend. Once he returned, he played only 23 minutes (12 coming in the blowout of Illinois in Indianapolis) and had seven DNP - coaches decisions. I felt it was very telling when he didn't even play against Wisconsin once the walk-ons got in.

Kendall started the season on fire. Through the first four games he was averaging 12.25 points per game and he was 14 of 32 from three. He would have only three double figures games the rest of the way, with a high of 14 against Howard. After scoring eight against Rutgers on January 18th he would score only three points in the final 16 games, and he didn't even play in 11 of those. He hit his last three-pointer against Illinois, much to the delight of the Purdue crowd at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

There is little question that the fans are behind Kendall. We want him to come back. While he has primarily been a three-point shooter throughout his career he did show me a few interesting things this season. In the home win over Michigan in January he had a great play where he shot-faked, drove baseline, and threw down an impressive dunk. It was the type of "damn!" play that Purdue did not have enough of this season and it needs more of going forward. Of Purdue's three shooters, Kendall seems to have the ability to drive and create more than Dakota Mathias or Ryan Cline. That is invaluable for next season.

I was also impressed that Kendall cut down on his turnovers. They were a problem last season, but he went from 1.2 per game to a career low 0.5 per game.

I think part of Kendall's problem this year, aside from his off the court situation, was that he got into a shooting slump and couldn't work out of it. Of his 140 field goal attempts 120 were from three. This is compared to a 190:265 ratio as a sophomore and a 173:223 ratio as a freshman. His three-point percentage dipped from 38.4% to 31.7%, and instead of creating more we saw him trying to force things. That, combined with barely playing in the last two months of the season, will create a bad atmosphere for anyone.

But we have seen what Kendall can do. We have seen he can be a sharpshooter. We have seen that he can drive and create. This is a player that has averaged nearly eight points per game over a three year career. Yes, Purdue played well without him this past season, but more minutes will be there now that Rapheal Davis is gone. This team also needs a senior leader, and what better player than one who has had to go through some very harrowing personal trials this past season, but he was lifted up by his teammates and fans.

Personally, I want Kendall back. I know last year was a struggle, but he still has time to have a great senior season. I remember games like 24 against IUPUI as a sophomore, 22 in an overtime win over Penn State in the same season, and other big shots. I know he has the capability of getting white hot and dropping 30 on some fools. I also know he bleeds gold and black from a family that also bleeds Purdue. The kid was raised as part of our family and I want to see him close out his college career with a season of redemption after this past year.

Come on home, Kendall. You're family.