Purdue basketball again finds itself in a transition year. They’ve lost two of their most productive players in Jaden Ivey and Trevion Williams. They lost a sharpshooter in Sasha Stefanovic, and they’ve lost two point guards in Isaiah Thompson and Eric Hunter Jr. That’s a lot of production to lose in one offseason. However, with a new influx of talent, and more opportunities for those in the program there’s reason to be excited for this season.
Brandon Newman falls squarely into that second category. After a freshman season in which Newman really excelled he found himself languishing on the bench at times in his sophomore season. Even when he got additional opportunities he never seemed to be able to grasp them and that hurt his chances of playing even more. No game more embodies this then the game against Northwestern where he wound up going 0-5 from the floor. Over the next 12 games he played approximately five minutes. But that’s where the story gets interesting, to me at least.
Any number of players would have taken this demotion to the deep bench as a sign that his time at Purdue was over. At about that time I’m sure the transfer portal started to look really inviting. I’m sure he was getting bugs in his ear from people all over that hey maybe team X would give him a better opportunity. He could’ve pouted, he could’ve been angry, instead he put in the work. Our former big boss man Travis Miller caught him putting in the work after a game in which he didn’t play.
After this Newman came back to life during the Big Ten Tournament against Penn State due to foul trouble. Newman went 4-4 from the floor and finished with 12 points. It was an incredible moment for a young man who clearly wanted and needed this moment. He had put in so much work that, speaking just for me personally, it was great to see. I remember being so happy for him.
Here’s a handy comparison of Newman’s first two years with the team.
2020-21 Stats: 28 games, 23 starts. 23.6 mpg, 8.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.3 apg, 39.8% FG%, 37.9% 3FG, 93.8% FT%
2021-22 Stats: 25 games, 1 start. 12.6 mpg, 4.6 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 0.6 apg, 32.1% FG%, 32.1% 3FG, 79.2% FT%
In the only (non-secret) exhibition game of the season Newman came off the bench but still tied for the team lead in minutes with 20. He scored 13 points on 5-9 shooting while also grabbing 5 rebounds and dishing out one assist. It appeared as if specific plays were called when Newman came in the game to get him some looks. He had a nice midrange jumper shortly after he ended.
So what’s Newman’s outlook for the 2022-2023 season? Newman could find his way back into the starting lineup if he continues to play like he did during this exhibition against the vaunted Truman State defense. Most likely though he starts the year as one of the first off the bench and could average between 15-20 minutes a game in that case. What Purdue needs is a confident Newman who can come in and shoot closer to that 37.9% from three he shot as a freshman. Regardless, I’m just happy that Newman put in the work, fought hard for his role, and has found himself on the other side. That’s a true Boilermaker spirit.