For years, Purdue has been banging on the door of March glory, but under Coach Painter they have only found disappointment answering the door. There’s been injuries, roster upheaval, Big Ten Titles, and so many moments where it seemed finally he would be able to clear the hurdle.
But Purdue has not been to the National title game since Coach George King took them their during the 1969 season. 1969 was a pretty good year for Purdue, and while they continue to put astronauts in space, there’s been only one Final Four since and that was in 1980.
Could this year be their year? Finally? Purdue has a National Player of the Year candidate returning in Carsen Edwards. He’s the preseason Big Ten Player of the Year. But at this point it seems beyond a basketball talent issue. There’s work to be done in the greater cosmos, planets need aligned, lucky shirts need worn, and horseshoes to be rubbed.
Cue Kyle King, a true freshman walk-on from St. Charles, Illinois. Kyle King is modeled much in the same way as Grady Eifert, a walk-on with a real college athlete’s body. He’s 6’6” and averaged 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 and a half assists a game his senior year. Also, like Eifert, his last name has some history with Purdue.
Previously mentioned George King, taker of Purdue to the Final Four, is his grandfather. While it’s unlikely Kyle King will have much on-court impact this year, it’s important to note that most walk-ons limitations are based around their lack of size. Think Tommy Luce, who is a quick, fidgety guard with some vision, but lacks the size to go up against real Big Ten guards. King, like Eifert, doesn’t have that problem. Like Eifert, it might not be shocking to see him garner minutes in his future playing career. He had a well-rounded game in high school and he could easily slide into a fill-in role when Painter needs a spark off the bench and perhaps even grow into a rotation player.
But for the moment, maybe he’s just something to help break the curse. I’m sure that’s not how these things work, but if it happens, you can guarantee someone will write that story.