There are just 25 days left until Purdue Basketball is officially back on the court and that means it is time for Ethan Morton to jump into the spotlight.
Ironically, Morton may in fact be taking more a backseat in his final season with the Boilermakers instead of being in the spotlight as he has been in the past two seasons. Morton started 29 games last season for arguably the best Purdue team in program history but with the addition of Myles Colvin, the transfer of Lance Jones, and the emergence of Brian Waddell, he may find it difficult for extended playing time this season. Last season Morton averaged 3.8 points, 2.4 assists, and 2.9 rebounds but the other players may provide more if given more playing time.
The thing is, Ethan’s importance may go a lot further than his playing time on the court. Ethan’s defensive prowess on the wing will still be incredibly beneficial but he is a player who builds culture and cohesiveness. Inevitably at some point this season, things will get tough for the Boilers and they need a player like Morton who provides leadership beyond the court to get through that.
This season, Morton could very well find himself starting at the small forward position but Purdue’s ceiling is raised if a player like Brian Waddell or Myles Colvin is given the chance to play extended minutes while Lance Jones very well could be a more scoring threat while providing similar defensive matchups. This is more of an indication of Purdue’s immense talent and depth than it is a knock on Morton but how does that have an impact on Purdue in March?
Purdue is going to have demons to exercise this season after three consecutive bad losses in the NCAA Tourney, none more so embarrassing that losing to a #16 seed last year. Morton just seems like the peak locker room guy who keeps things moving in the right direction. He will have moments this season where his play likely wins Purdue multiple games because he will be able to come in and play tough as nails defense in short spurts and, as Coach Painter has said, empty his tank without worrying about how many minutes he gets. He’ll be the ultimate role player this year and that’s the kind of player than can push Purdue into a Final Four.