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Purdue Basketball Announces New Graduate Assistants; PJ Thompson Elevated

P.J. Thompson will be named the new Director of Player Development.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-East Regional Practice
P.J. Thompson, seen here during his playing days, is moving on up in the coaching world.
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Graduate assistants come and graduate assistants go. That’s the nature of the position. GAs (as they like to be called) can only stay for two years before having to move on and find a new home. Today Purdue Basketball put out a release stating that former GA P.J. Thompson will be staying on with Purdue Basketball in the role of Director of Player Development. While I don’t know what this role entails Purdue was nice enough to include a description of what Thompson will be doing.

Thompson’s roles will include individual instruction, opponent breakdown and tendencies and team assignments aided to further individual player development. He will also be heavily involved in on-campus recruiting.

To me this seems like a great fit. Thompson is largely known as a guy who is a great communicator, carries respect around the team, and has a good basketball mind. These are the kind of people you want to stick around your program. Plus, for Thompson if he truly wants to give coaching a go what a place to learn! Being able to learn under the tutelage of Matt Painter for now a third year will be invaluable as he moves onward and upward in his coaching career.

With both Thompson and Grady Eifert pushed out of the GA spots by the nature of time itself that means that there are two openings on the staff. In this same release Purdue announced that Spike Albrecht and Tommy Luce would be the lucky ones filling these roles.

Since leaving Purdue Albrecht has spent time on the Northfield Mount Herman (prep) staff. He also spent time at Louisville as a grad assistant. More recently Albrecht has been running his own business focused on basketball training. It seems based on what he’s done since his playing days that Albrecht is interested in coaching in some capacity. It’s lucky for Purdue that he chose to come back here instead of Michigan as he obviously was a player there prior to grad transferring to Purdue. Albrecht brings a wealth of knowledge and a great reputation throughout the conference. He should be a major asset to the team.

The second man who is taking the GA spot needs no introduction. It’s the King of Mackey Arena himself, Tommy Luce. Following graduation Luce worked in a sales role while also being an assistant coach at Greenwood High School. This will obviously be a huge step up for Luce, but again, what an opportunity.

For those wondering what exactly a GA might focus on Purdue was again generous enough to provide us that information.

Luce and Albrecht will be responsible for opponent scouting, film breakdown, helping with individual workouts and administrative duties as they both break into the collegiate coaching ranks.

As a former HR employee this certainly sounds vague and like they have an “other duties as assigned” situation ahead of them. But that’s good! They will likely touch every facet of the game and it will better prepare them for the next steps in their coaching careers.

Kudos to Coach Painter for building this pipeline of GAs who can offer a wealth of talent and wisdom to the team. As coaches stay at programs for long periods of time it’s always important to bring in fresh blood for new perspectives. Painter isn’t afraid to listen to those around him and I’m sure guys like Thompson, Luce, and Albrecht won’t be afraid to speak up. Purdue got better today and that’s great news.