The McDonald’s All-America team dates back to 1977. it showcases the elite of the elite high school prospects in the country. Hundreds of players are nominated each season, but it is generally limited to about 24 players every year as they separate into two teams of 12 for the actual game.
While Purdue often has its players nominated, as Painter gets plenty of top 100 players, McDonald’s All-Americans have been mostly elusive when it comes to signing with Purdue. We have officially only had the following McDonald’s All-Americans:
1980 - Russell Cross
1984 - Troy Lewis
1985 - Kip Jones
1991 - Glenn Robinson
1996 - Mike Robinson
2015 - Caleb Swanigan
Every NCAA champion since the team was established has had at least one McDonald’s All-American except for 2000 Maryland and 2014 Connecticut. As you can see, Gene Keady had decent luck in getting some top guys, but Biggie is the only such player Matt Painter has landed.
Apparently he needs to recruit more Calebs. Caleb Furst, coach Painter’s lone 2021 commitment, is closing in on that hallowed ground. In the latest player rankings by the three major recruiting services he is rated 29th by ESPN, 33rd by Rivals, and 29th by 247.
If 24 is the cutoff Furst is definitely getting close, and this is without the annual spring and summer evaluation periods that have been cancelled due to COVID-19. He lost a chance at leading Fort Wayne Blackhawk to a second consecutive state championship, this time while playing up a class here in Indiana. Can he creep into that elite of the elite group wither an excellent senior season?
I do not follow the AAU circuit at all, but Ft. Wayne Blackhawk is set to face a challenging schedule in 2020-21. They have been invited to the prestigious Hall of Fame Classic in New Castle between Christmas and New Year’s facing fellow small school power Barr-Reeve and either Blackford (with scoring phenom Luke Brown) or Shenandoah. This past season Blackhawk played plenty of 4A competition too. They beat 2018 3A champion and 2019 3A runner-up Culver Academy by 22, rolled past most of the 4A Fort Wayne area schools, and only lost to Homestead, Indianapolis Crispus Attucks, and Defending 3A champion Silver Creek. Silver Creek went 25-2 and had fellow 2021 target Trey Kaufman.
In terms of getting that elusive fifth recruiting star he has a little further to go. ESPN only has 16 five-star players in its top 100. Rivals has 19 such players and 247 has 22. 247 had him at No. 25 in its initial rankings and as low as 38 before climbing back up to his current 29.
For the extremely curious, Harrison Ingram could potentially give coach Painter TWO McDonald’s All-Americans. He is currently No. 15 (and a five-star) per 247, No. 9 (and a five-star) per Rivals, and No. 15 (and a five-star) according to ESPN. He will almost certainly make the team.
If Painter can land both of them it will be two of his best three commitments during his entire tenure, and set the stage for even more success in the 2022 class. There is little question that Purdue has been very good under Painter, but has struggled to consistently reach that “elite” status in both recruiting and in the national rankings. Ingram and Furst can be the vanguard for another breakthrough.