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2021-22 Purdue Basketball Homework: Ethan Morton

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The freshman saw limited action in 2020-21, but still has a big upside.

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Purdue Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve reached the true freshmen, and as a teaser I am saving Zach Edey and Jaden Ivey for the end. How else am I going to keep y’all around waiting for more in this series?

Ethan Morton had a developmental year. He saw minutes disappear late in the season and he didn’t even appear in the final four games. He had enough underlying circumstances to be a prime redshirt candidate, but one of the very few benefits of COVID is that he had a de facto redshirt year anyway while at least getting some playing time.

In the long term, Morton still has a lot of promise. His size brings a lot of upside to his position, and this year can pay huge dividends going forward.

Ethan Morton - Sophomore in 2021-22

2020-21 Stats: 23 Games played, 0 starts. 8.7 mpg, 0.6 ppg, 0.8 rpg, 0.9 apg, 25% FG, 28.6% 3FG, Attempted 0 free throws.

Morton was extremely limited in his playing time this year, playing the fewest minutes of any scholarship player not named Emmanuel Dowuona. Most of his action came early in the season, which was a bit of a surprise since he was reportedly recovering from mono. He played 25 minutes against Clemson, 22 against Oakland, and 23 minutes against Valparaiso.

His best game came against the Oakland where he had three points and six assists. It was also a game Purdue won by 43 points, so there was a lot of garbage time. After scoring a season high five against Valparaiso he didn’t score again until hitting a big three at Indiana. That basket was only his third shot attempt after taking four shots at Miami, but it ended up being a huge basket because it doubled Purdue’s lead form 3 to 6 with 11 minutes left and started an 11-3 run that helped us put the Hoosiers away.

Ethan would only take two more shots the rest of the season, hitting a single three early at Maryland. He finished the year with 14 points, six coming in Big Ten play.

I think what we saw the most from Ethan is his passing. He finished with 20 assists, but 11 came in a two game stretch against Valpo and Oakland. He played smart in his minutes. He had a positive assist-to-turnover ratio while running the point as a true freshman, but because he disappeared as the rotation tightened late his grade for the year is incomplete.

I do believe he could have benefitted from a redshirt, but I understand playing him in a year that wasn’t going to count against his eligibility anyway. Coach Painter lost absolutely nothing by playing him. As a player that will primarily run the point as his career progresses he has excellent size at 6’6”, 215. He draws comparisons to Dakota Mathias with his intelligence on the floor and passing ability, but the scoring ability remains to be seen. By his final season Dakota was a very versatile scorer. So far 14 of Morton’s 20 career shot attempts have come from three.

The important thing to remember is that Morton is still developing. He is primarily going to be at the point, so I see him battling Isaiah Thompson for minutes. Eric Hunter Jr. is the de facto incumbent at the 1, but Morton can provide depth as long as he has a good offseason. Does he surpass Thompson as the year goes on?

Morton needs to have the offseason that mono took from his last year. He can add some muscle, become a more effective shooter, and continue to affect the game with his distribution. Also, like everyone else at Purdue, he needs to be a factor on defense. If you don’t play defense at Purdue you don’t play. Period. If the Mathias comparisons are apt, Dakota averaged more than a steal per game by his final season. Purdue desperately needs smart perimeter defenders, and that might be the deciding factor in how much playing time he gets.