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Countdown to Purdue Basketball: FURST GAME OF THE SEASON

He’s the second Furst in the countdown, if that makes any sense.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament Semifinals Purdue vs. Ohio State David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The wait is finally over. Tonight, Purdue Men’s basketball will play their first official game of the 2023-24 season, and what better way to celebrate than by highlighting the career of the guy in the #1 jersey? The guy whose surname is actually Furst. Okay I know there’s another Furst now with his brother Josh, but today we’re talking about Caleb.

Junior Caleb Furst joined Purdue in 2021 as the reigning Indiana Mr. Basketball. Prior to his arrival in West Lafayette, Furst set the record for both points and rebounds in a career at Blackhawk Christian in Fort Wayne. He also helped the U-19 USA basketball team to a gold medal in the 2021 FIBA U-19 World Cup.

As a freshman, the 6’10” 225-pound Furst made an immediate impact, appearing in 34 games, starting in 12, averaging 4.1 points and 3.2 rebounds. His production slightly increased in his sophomore campaign, appearing in 35 games, starting in 21, averaging 5.5 points and 4.6 rebounds.

Entering his junior year, his career totals as Boilermaker include 332 points, 270 rebounds, 20 blocks, and 19 steals. He averages just under five points and four rebounds per game.

I’d expect a slightly more elevated role for Furst, but that’s dependent upon how well he shoots from the free-throw line. He had a noticeable dropoff in FT% from his first year to his second. As I noted in the summer:

If he’s going to have an elevated role in this offense down low, he’s going to be drawing more fouls. Hitting 59.2% of your attempts from the stripe is not so great if you’re a guy who hit 71.7% of them as a freshman. If he has the ball in his hands more often in ‘23 to ‘24 and continues to struggle from the line, he won’t have the ball in his hands for long.

Furst is a guy who can shoot well, but a guy who would also happen to be a lot of teams’ starting center. Once Zach Edey has exhausted his eligibility following this season, I expect #1 to have a HUGE increase in minutes and production. That said, I don’t see why some slightly better shooting can’t allow him another minutes increase, an increase greater than the difference between his freshman season (14.7 MPG) and sophomore season (18.4).

Caleb Furst has all the tools to be a very versatile player and is already a key component of this team. If he can clean up the free throws and get his 3FG% back to his freshman numbers (.423 compared to .268, he hit 11 three pointers in each season, but once on 26 attempts and once on 41), Furst could be an absolute menace.

Look for the Elder Furst brother to be splitting time with Mason Gillis at PF as the #3-ranked Boilermakers host the Bulldogs of Samford University. The game tips off at 6:30 p.m. Eastern at Mackey Arena.