Second take(s) on Purdue men's basketball ..

To continue where Purdue men's basketball falls short, the program's player development record can and should be taken into account. A few years ago, Dan Dakich made the statement that Purdue develops players; i.e., players leave much better then when they come in. Not sure I buy it:

a. For being a "big man university", the last two big men to have successful careers are Brad Miller and Carl Landry … in the past 25 years. Meanwhile, Jajuan Johnson, A.J. Hammons, Caleb Swanigan, Isaac Hass, Matt Haarms, and Trevion Williams began with promise – if sometimes accompanied by development needs – and largely failed to make the cut. In some cases, the player had issues with motivation (Hammons) or off the court (Swanigan), but the trend is hard to ignore. Johnson is particularly painful as during his senior year, he was conference player of the year, conference defensive player of the year, and national big man of the year, and was definitely mobile enough for the NBA, but his career still didn’t take off.

b. What do the following players have in common?

i. Chris Kramer

ii. Kelsey Barlow

iii. Kendall Stephens

iv. Rafael Davis

v. Vince Edwards

vi. Dakota Matthias

vii. to an extent, Aaron Wheeler, and

viii. now, Ethan Morton.

All were well-rounded perimeter players who in some way regressed during their careers, and it doesn’t show just in the numbers. Kramer and Davis were both Big Ten Conference defensive players of the year, in Kramer’s case, multiple times; Barlow and Matthias made the conference all-defensive team. Matthias and now Morton were (or are) recognized as the team’s best passers.

The case can be made that limited athleticism capped Kramer’s and Matthias’ ceilings, though I’m not convinced; Kramer could dunk from standing and was the nation’s premier perimeter lock-down player his final year, and Matthias routinely kept the opposing team’s most talented guard/wing in front of him during his last two seasons.

Wheeler and Stephens both regressed linearly each year at the school, and while a personal tragedy didn’t help Stephens’ junior season, it’s significant his final season, not at Purdue, saw the Mountain West’s conference record – and top five that year in the NCAA – for made three-point field goals. Wheeler became an instant starter at St. John’s and averaged over 13 ppg in 22 minutes/game playing time; he really hurts since his athletic ceiling was high and could have become a 2 guard in the NBA with his length (6’9"), quickness, and – if progressed – shooting touch.

I’m not privy to any conversations between Jaden Ivey and either his agents, scouts or family, but one wonders if he was encouraged to leave before his game underwent a predictable stagnation, dropping his draft stock in the process.

c. For as much promise as Carsen Edwards showed his final year – he remains only the second player ever named regional most valuable player without his team winning the regional in the past 28 years – his pro career flatlined … and it was visible from a mile away. His ball-handling and his defense still needed work. What’s worse, he ended up in possibly the worst place to start his career in the Boston Celtics; nothing against the Celtics, but they already had an able backcourt and Edwards was basically a surplus player. A similar thing happened to Caleb Swanigan in Portland – they didn’t need another power forward … which brings me to the next issue:

d. Is anyone looking out for these guys as they take part in the draft process? Some of it is out of they players’ or agents’ control on draft day, but a lot of conversation happens prior to the actual event; how else do team managements get a feel for personality fit with their organizations?

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