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50 Days to Purdue Basketball: Caleb Swanigan

The sophomore looks to build on his potential after an up and down freshman year.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Illinois vs Purdue Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Caleb Swanigan - Sophomore

Fort Wayne, IN (Homestead High School)

6’8”, 255 lbs?

Big Man

2016 Projection: Starting Power Forward

Caleb Swanigan was the story of the last off season. The five-star big man de-committed from Michigan State to come to Purdue. He marked the first All-American for Purdue since we started putting two’s at the beginning of the year. His freshman year came with the possible expectations of a one and done exit to the NBA. Unfortunately and fortunately, Biggie’s on-court performance was unbalanced, and he returned from his trip to the NBA combine to build on his first year performance.

His weaknesses were obvious. He turned the ball over too much, struggled to defend quicker players, and didn’t have the athleticism to make up for his lack of top-end height. His turnover rate was over 25% and had the lowest offense rating on the team according to kenpom.

But his strengths were just as glaring. He had the 20th best defensive rebounding rate in the country. He was able to pull defenses out with the threat of a jump shot, showed some ability to move the ball, and had a couple games where he took the Boilers on his back and carried the offense. As a true freshman, he nearly averaged a double-double with 10 points a game and 8 rebounds.

Caleb came to us as a five-star, mostly unknown, brute of a post player. The truth is his ceiling is probably more poor man’s Kevin Love. His jump shot didn’t fall last year, but the mechanics are there. If he gets hot this year, he’ll be a big man capable of pulling the defense away from Haas while taking advantage of any sticks trying to guard him. He’s lost weight, gotten into better shape, and looks quicker.

From the scrimmage and trip to Spain, expect him to not only be the starting Power Forward, but the back-up Center as well. He’ll start alongside Haas, and then when Haas goes to sit, he’ll slide over to the 5. This is good for multiple reasons. He looked better last season at the 5 than the 4, as he was able to take advantage of teams like Wisconsin in the post.

But also he allows for ultimate spacing on offense. He’s capable of knocking down the three, rolling on picks, and making the right pass - as long as he doesn’t travel first. The Boilers have a bevy of wings, and Swanigan in the post or playing a 5-out motion offense, creates all kinds of space for our guards to get open looks.

Make no mistake. Caleb was downright bad at times last year. He struggled to play within himself. He didn’t have a ready made post game against D1 athletes, and his shots didn’t fall regularly enough, but the potential is there. He puts in the work. Which is good because this team will go as Caleb does. He has the ability to unlock everything for them. If he can become competant on defense, knock down shots on offense, and cut his turnovers, he’ll be flirting with an All-American jersey of a different sort and these Boilers will be flirting with April instead of just getting thrown out by March.