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32 Days to Purdue Basketball: Matt Haarms

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Is the redshirt freshman ready to make an impact? He might have to be.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Purdue Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

WE’RE JUST 32 DAYS AWAY FROM PURDUE BASKETBALL!

With another foot injury to Jacquil Taylor, today’s player could take on more of a role than anticipated going into the season.

7’2” redshirt freshman Matt Haarms has come a long way from the Netherlands to play for Coach Matt Painter. Initially he was a part of this 2017 class, but due to some issues with eligibility, he came to campus halfway through the season last year and took a redshirt. That could be a blessing now.

With seniors Isaac Haas and Vincent Edwards, the starting frontcourt spots have been locked down for some time in Painter’s rotation. Incoming recruits Eden Ewing and Aaron Wheeler were supposed to fill most of the minutes behind Vincent, while Jacquil Taylor would be Haas’s back-up.

This would allow Haarms to come along slowly. His frail frame is still something of a concern in a physical Big Ten. Freshman big men will always struggle with fouls and the intensity of the college game.

But Coach Painter might not have the luxury of giving Haarms another season of developing from the bench. If Taylor is injured and misses any time, Haarms becomes the next big man up. Isaac Haas, while gobbling up impressive per-40 stats, he’s never been asked to play this many minutes before. If the Team USA experience taught us anything, it’s that the back-up center spot is more important than ever.

Taylor was an ideal defensive replacement for Haas. He’s both long enough to protect the rim, but also agile enough to hedge and recover on the defensive end.

This is the role Purdue ideally wants Haarms to eventually develop. Eventually might have to be this season if Taylor misses any time.

Aaron Wheeler and Eden Ewing are athletic wings/4’s, and chances are Painter will have to get creative with some lineups, but they can’t come close to the defensive potential a 7’2” center like Haarms could provide.

Offensively, Haarms has an intriguing skill set. The big man has a silky shot that he’s working to stretch all the way out to the 3-point line. He’s got decent mobility laterally and that much height always has the potential to be effective on the offensive glass.

And that’s the word that defines Haarms. Potential. At 7’2” with decent mobility and a good shot, the potential for him to be something special is there. We just don’t know yet. He’s the one player that didn’t get to experience the World University Games from the floor. He’s still an unknown.

His game is a mystery to us, but for Painter, he might have to be the answer to the question, “What do we do now?” if Taylor misses extended time.