Tomorrow is senior day at Mackey Arena. It is a bit of a strange one as we do not have a scholarship player that is leaving after four full years for the first time in a very long time. This was supposed to be the grand farewell for Carsen Edwards, but he decided to go out guns blazing in Louisville last year and deservedly rode off to the NBA. This year we will say goodbye to a pair of graduate transfers that were only with us a short time as well as the King of Mackey Arena.
Jahaad Proctor – Coach Painter has made good use of the grad transfer rule over the years. He has seemingly had one per season with Errick Peck, Sterling Carter, Johnny Hill, Jon Octeus, and Spike Albrecht all spending time in West Lafayette as a one-year hired gun. Proctor was brought in as a bit of a bridge player. We needed someone to at least fill Carsen’s spot (no one was going to replace everything Carsen gave). We also needed someone to fill in for Brandon Newman, who wasn’t quite ready by Painter’s own admission.
Enter Proctor, who averaged 19.5 points per game at High Point a year ago. He has transitioned to be a player that can attack the basket, make his own shot, and hit the occasional three. He has even had some big moments. His tying three at Northwestern saved the season. His effort Tuesday night at Iowa was fantastic, including a little 5-0 run that stemmed the tide as the Hawkeyes were making a run. He has averaged 9.3 points per game for us with a season high 26 in the season opener against Green Bay.
I like guys like Proctor. He can get hot and give you 20 points in almost any given game. He has had his struggles this year (scoreless in three Big Ten games), but Purdue has been at its best when he has been at his best. He also plays with a lot of confidence. If we recover and make the NCAA tournament it will be because Jahaad has some big moments over the next 2-3 games.
Thank you for coming to West Lafayette, Jahaad.
Evan Boudreaux – Boudreaux has been the rare two-year graduate transfer. It feels like he has been around longer, however, because he committed as he was finishing his undergraduate degree at Dartmouth (sitting out a year to do so) and playing last year. After starting last season strong he struggled and was eventually a non-factor late in the year, playing just one minute total in Purdue’s four NCAA Tournament games.
I erred early in the season when I said E-Bo needed to be a poor man’s Robbie Hummel. I said he needed to hit his open threes, rebound, and in general be a glue guy. Instead, he has been a reasonable facsimile of Brian Cardinal. After a slow start to the year he has come on strong in Big Ten play, and his effort has been infectious. He has delivered double doubles in games where Purdue needed it most against Wisconsin and at Iowa. He found his shot for multiple threes in home wins over Michigan State and Iowa. Like Proctor, Purdue has been at its best when he has been at his best.
Also like Proctor, I think he has been a bridge player. Coach Painter may have felt like E-Bo was going to have a year where he could consistently hold down the four spot, so Mason Gillis redshirted to be more ready for next year. If Gillis and Newman have breakout years next season I think it will be because they had a year to prepare thanks to Boudreaux and Proctor.
Evan represents the toughness and grit of Purdue basketball. He is not the most athletic player on the floor. He looks downright goofy and slow at times going to the basket. He still got to add to the pantheon of famous Purdue dunks in Assembly Hall though, and that alone is enough to make him beloved.
Thank you for coming to West Lafayette, Evan.
Tommy Luce – The King, long may he reign.
Everyone celebrates walk-ons. We love the guys that bust ass in practice only to get the random 45 seconds at the end of games to hopefully throw up a random three. Every once in a while you get a guy like Grady Eifert, who starts as a walk-on with zero expectations and becomes an essential part of a winning team (imagine Grady’s place right now if Cline hits that free throw). Four-year walk-ons are rare because so few guys put in four years of work with no scholarship for so little playing time. Tommy has seen action in 46 games and only twice (at Illinois this year, vs. Kansas in the 2017 Tournament) has Purdue lost when Tommy has played. He has 26 career points, ten this season. Even though I think Tommy has been on scholarship for two years (thanks to Purdue having the extra one each year) he has still been the human victory cigar for Purdue.
And Tommy has seen a lot of winning. He has dazzled with his handles in his limited playing time and brought down the house against Iowa this year, hitting a pair of threes to put the Boilers over the century mark. Last season Grady Eifert and Ryan Cline left with the most wins of any Purdue players with 109 career victories. As of Tuesday’s win over Iowa, Tommy has been part of 99 wins, so he can go out with his 100th career victory. Should Purdue win tomorrow, win the Big Ten Tournament (four wins) and the NCAA Tournament (six wins) Tommy would leave Purdue as the winningest player of all-time. He also has a pair of Big Ten championships (while being a single rebound from a third) and he doesn’t know what it is like for Purdue to lose during the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament (7-3 NCAA record).
Of course, the best two marks he has are 7-0 and 4-0. Since freshmen were not eligible and did not play the last time Purdue went four or more years without losing to Indiana, Tommy is the ONLY four-year player in Purdue history to never lose to Indiana (barring a meeting next week in Indianapolis, which likely could not happen until the semifinals). He is a spotless 7-0 in his career and 4-0 in Assembly Hall. I believe this legally makes him the owner of Tommy Luce Assembly Hall.
Tommy is the ultimate team guy. He does his work behind the scenes (and I don’t mean producing the Getting’ Loose with Tommy Luce videos). He has earned the admiration of none other than Gene Keady himself.
Thank you for coming to West Lafayette, Tommy.
It has been a rough year for these guys. After so much winning the previous five seasons it has been a year of transition, but Purdue has endured and still has a chance to make the NCAA Tournament thanks to these three guys. They will always be a part of our Purdue family.