Purdue Boilermaker Basketball is just 2 days away from their official start which means we get to take a look at one of the fabulous freshman from last season, Fletcher Loyer.
Loyer surprised many last season with his shot making from behind the arc and his ability to create shots off the dribble to get into the paint. Those are hard attributes to develop but when they come from a freshman who was not a top 100 player, that bodes well for their development in the coming years. That development is what Purdue hopes will help lead them on a deep NCAA Tourney run in March.
Last season, Loyer averaged 11 points, 2.4 assists, and only 1.2 turnovers per game in almost 29 minutes. That type of production should be the standard for Loyer moving through the rest of his career but may be difficult with the emergence of Braden Smith as a more primary scoring option this season and more reliable options at the shooting guard and small forward positions in Myles Colvin, Lance Jones, Cam Heide, and Brian Waddell. Those players may eat into some of Loyer’s minutes and his role as a primary scoring option but that may in fact help relieve the pressures that obviously hurt him in the second half of the season.
Loyer definitely hit that freshman wall last season but he did not show an ability to work around it as he struggled to shoot well and got bullied on the defensive end. Through Purdue’s first 18 games, Loyer shot an impressive 37% from behind the arc (43-115) but struggled in the final 17 games shooting just 24% (16-66). From those numbers, you can clearly see a player who was potentially struggling with their confidence in their jump shot from behind the arc. The hope is that Loyer can show the level of confidence and scoring he showed in that first half of the season throughout the entire year but that more reliance on those around him eases the burden.
Loyer currently has the track on the starting position at shooting guard but he will be pushed as Lance Jones and Myles Colvin are both viable options who can score in bunches but who also have a higher ceiling on the defensive end because of their bigger size and athleticism. Loyer does have the ability to catch and shoot off screens which gives him the advantage but if the struggles flare up again and he can’t find his way around them, Purdue has the options available this year (unlike last season) to replace him on the starting line.