The month of May has now been the Caleb Swanigan watch for three straight seasons. Two years ago it was watching to see if he would come to Purdue and be our first McDonald’s All-American in nearly two decades. Last year we waited until the last minute to see if he would return for his sophomore season. This year, after a fantastic season, we waited again and were teased with the possibility that he might return for a third season. It didn’t work out for us, as he is off to the NBA for good this time, but throughout the entire journey we saw a young man grow up. We desperately did not want him to leave, but at the same time, we cannot fault him one iota because of his background and he really had nothing left to prove.
I am not here to rehash his story of coming out of poverty and overcoming obesity. I am not here to list all the accolades he earned this past season as one of the best players in America. I am merely here to say thank you.
I want to say thank you for coming to Purdue and becoming a Boilermaker.
Thank you for letting us watch you and cheer for you for two years as you grew into a force.
Thank you for bringing another Big Ten title to West Lafayette.
Thank you for being the best in the Big Ten this year.
Thank you being an inspiration to many with your story.
Thank you for opening up this year, letting us see you grow with your teammates.
Thank you for basking in the adoration that rained down from the seats at Mackey Arena.
Thank you for beating Indiana twice this year.
Thank you for unforgettable performances to the point we just took your nightly double-double for granted.
Thank you for helping Purdue end a number of streaks, such as no outright B1G titles in 21 years and no Sweet 16s in 7 years.
Thank you for showing what heart and sheer will can do.
Thank you for taking us into your family, because now you’re forever one of ours.
Finally, thank you for just letting us come along for the ride as fans. There are a lot of schools that get a player like you every year and take them for granted. Purdue is always the team that squeezes the most it can get out of the next level of players and never gets guys like you. You came to Purdue and lived up to the hype and expectations. In fact, you probably exceeded them. You gave us excitement just by committing to Purdue. When Purdue is gifted with a player of your caliber we seem to find an extra gear to show our appreciation because we know it doesn’t happen often. I have to say that it has been a joy to watch you the last two seasons. You have earned your banner that will hang for all time in the rafters, reserved only for the all-time greats.
I think I speak for the entire staff when I say that it has been a privilege to cover you the past two seasons and even before, since I was writing about Caleb Swanigan as far back as his sophomore year of high school as a Purdue target. We have run out of adjectives to describe your play, Caleb, so it has just been an honor to be along for the ride.
So thank you, Caleb. Best of luck in the League. We will be watching and cheering you on. And no matter who drafts you, we’re probably having another Purdue night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse against the Pacers to welcome you back home.