A curious thing started to happen while Purdue played in the World University Games. When games were well-decided and P.J. and Eastern went to the bench, Ryan Cline started to bring the ball up the court.
It’s a flash back to Ryan Cline’s days in Carmel where he wasn’t just a shooter. He was their do everything star. When his high school career ended, he had two state titles, and finished his senior year as runner-up for Mr. Basketball in Indiana behind some guy you’ve probably heard of that goes by the nickname Biggie.
For Purdue, Ryan Cline has been a shooter. His freshman year, that’s all he was. Of his 109 attempted field goals, 12 of them came from inside the arc. He only made one of them.
In Cline’s sophomore year, the stereotype continued. Cline was cast as just a shooter, but the signs of evolution were there, even if relatively small in size again. He doubled his shots inside the arc. Instead of 12 field goal attempts, he took 25. More importantly, he started to make them - 12 to be exact.
Both years Cline’s attempts from beyond the arc were identical. He’s now taken 109 three-pointers in two seasons. He’s shooting 40% from 3 in his career. His 87 made 3-pointers are 7th most for any Boilermaker going into his Junior season.
But Cline’s always been more than a shooter. He owns a 2.91 assist to turnover ratio. Dakota Mathias has the mantle as best passer on the team; Ryan Cline isn’t far behind him. While he doesn’t create off the bounce, he does draw the attention of all defenders around him. He’s sneaking good at looking guys off with his eyes and delivering passes to his big men inside.
At 6’6, Cline is a surprisingly good rebounder. He lacks lateral quickness to be a great defender, but he fights bigger opponents well and comes up with loose balls.
He’s also something of our Mr. Big Shot. His freshman year he came up with huge threes against Florida and Pittsburgh in key stretches. He almost single-handedly saved Purdue against Penn State last year.
Now Coach Painter is trusting him at times to bring the ball up the court. His handle looks much tighter. He has a surprisingly effective pump and drive game that leverages Cline’s length and strength to get to the hoop. He’s always been a willing passer and a good rebounder - a skill Purdue will need a lot of with Biggie gone.
Cline is the epitome of guys who just find themselves on the court when games matter. Not only does he provide spacing when he’s on the floor, he just makes winning plays. If his defense improves, expect Cline’s minutes to continue to go up from the 21 minutes a game he played last year.
Boilers have a history of shooters expanding their games and going off in their junior year. D. J. Byrd went from shooting 34% to 43% on significantly more attempts. Ryne Smith went from barely playing and shooting 30% to making 44% his junior year after doubling the amount of three’s he took. Just last year Dakota Mathias took 45 more threes than his sophomore year and made 45% of them after failing to get over 40% in his career.
Is Ryan Cline the next to make his third season the charm?