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Draft Potential: Purdue’s 2023/2024 Roster

On the heels of the 2023 NBA Draft, who could end up hearing their name called in the coming years on draft night?

With the completion of the 2023 NBA Draft and with Zach Edey having pulled his name out of consideration a few weeks ago, it is now time to look forward into the future about which Boilermakers stand the best chance to hear their names called on draft night. Purdue has a great history of draft picks in the NBA with nine total first round draft picks and two number one overall picks in Joe Barry Carroll (1980) and Glenn Robinson (1994). Those two number one overall picks places Purdue as just one of sixteen different schools to have had multiple number one overall picks with the likes of Duke, Kentucky, Georgetown, Houston, North Carolina, UCLA, Kansas, and Indiana (among others).

Let’s turn our attention to the current roster of Boilermakers and see what they may have to offer as future NBA prospects by taking a look at the top 5 Boilermakers that are most likely to be drafted.

***NOTE: This doesn’t mean just the 2024 NBA Draft. This would be for any draft from 2024 to 2027

#1: Zach Edey - Center - 7’4 285lbs - Senior

2022/2023: 22.3 pts 12.9 rbs 1.5 ast 2.1 blks 73.4% FT

There is little more that can be said about the season Zach Edey just experienced. He won every major award that you could possibly win as a junior last season. What is there left for the big man to accomplish to show he can be a legitimate NBA player? Well, a lot actually.

There are very few, if any, teams in the country who would be able to defend Zach in a one on one situation for an entire forty minute game. When teams attempted that to take shooters away, Zach just hammered them on the offensive side of the ball. However, as the season progressed and the shooting from the guards and wings got progressively worse, Zach was pressured more and more with double, triple, and even quadruple teams to slow him down. Obviously, the easy answer here is to have guys hit shots but Zach can take pressure off of himself by showing an expanded offensive game. This would mean Matt Painter allowing Zach to be given the green light in situations where he can take open jump shots off actions where he catches the ball and creates space by being a passer or in the pick and pop action.

Zach doesn’t need to be taking 100 three point shots next season unless he becomes an absolute revelation as a player behind the arc. He can, however, be effective shooting 30% from behind the arc on limited shots to open up the lane for players like Myles Colvin, Fletcher Lower, Braden Smith, and Cam Heide who have shown an ability to score at the rim or have the potential. That alone would show NBA GM’s and head coaches that he can provide more than a low post scoring threat in a more wide open NBA.

The main issue for Zach is simply being able to defend better when being put into pick and roll or pick and pop situations. This should be better with more athletic players that allow Zach to be more aggressive at times but if Zach can have another lead in his athleticism and his ability to move laterally, which I believe he showed in his workouts leading up to the draft, he can slide into the first round next season.

Potential: Early to Middle Second Round

#2 Myles Colvin - Guard - 6’6 210lbs - Freshman

True Freshman: No stats available

Many of you may be wondering why Colvin isn’t first on this list and many of you would be right in placing him ahead of Zach given Myles’ potential ability likely can push him into the first round. Not many players have entered Purdue with the athleticism and potential that Colvin has and the last one that did got drafted at #5 overall in the 2022 draft (Jaden Ivey - Detroit Pistons). The 6’6 true freshman from Indianapolis is a rare blend of size and athleticism that NBA GM’s often times get enamored with and I’m not sure there is another professional league that drafts players on pure potential than the NBA. That is the value that Colvin has right now.

Colvin has a blend of athleticism to his game that has shown him to be a capable three level scorer as he shot well from behind the arc when he isn’t expected to make tough shots because of a lack of talent from those around him. He also showed the ability to finish in the high school slam dunk contest where he put on an absolute show and opened a lot of eyes to those who may not have been familiar with him. In fact, Colvin and Ivey were both rated as 4 star players on 247 Sports with a grade of 93, although Colvin logged in at 60th overall in his class while Ivey was 99th.

Colvin will get the chance to thrive in the same ways that Ivey was given the chances to but his value may not be fully on display until Zach Edey leaves for his date with the NBA. The roster makeup will look very different with Caleb Furst, Trey Kaufman-Renn, William Berg, and the other potential recruits Purdue has coming in at the center position that will see Purdue going to a more ‘modern’ approach to the game. Colvin thrives in more free-flowing styles of offense and being given that freedom will likely come after his freshman year much like it did for Jaden Ivey. The comparison to Ivey is a fair one to make as the measurables and the athleticism will get the eyes of every NBA GM and head coach but Colvin’s development will need to parallel that of Ivey’s if he wants to see his name on draft night in the future.

Colvin was also selected to the Team USA U-19 team and is playing on his second Team USA team in two years. He is on the NBA’s radar.

Prediction: Ceiling: Mid to Late First Round Pick

#3 Caleb Furst - Power Forward - 6’10 230lbs - Junior

Career Stats: 4.8 pts, 3.9 rbs, 65.3% FT, 32.8% 3pt, 16.6mpg

It’s easy to see the potential that comes from Caleb Furst when he is on the floor. The 6’10 and 230lb junior runs more like a gazelle than what you typically see from a player that size. Furst’s athleticism will catch the eyes of the NBA, especially when his minutes and usage go up with the graduation of Zach Edey coming up. Furst is a very good power forward for the Boilers alongside Edey but as a center, he could be incredibly valuable in today’s NBA.

Although his shooting percentage from behind the arc took a drastic dip this season (and really, the entire team experienced that it seemed), Furst proved as a freshman that he was capable of shooting better than 40% from three on 11 of 26. But, he also has value inside the arc as he is a better than 60% shooter and rebounds at a 9.5 per 40 minutes for his career. His value also comes in the form of his ability to play in the pick and roll or pick and pop that dominates the NBA and has come to be more of a focus in the college game. Case point: Watch Furst in the clip from Purdue’s summer practices where he is in that pick and roll position and how he can finish through the lane.

Furst may not get to fully shine in his role at Purdue given the level of scorers the Boilers have coming in with Colvin and Catchings along with Loyer already on the roster, but the NBA is always looking for role players who can fit into what they need off the bench. Furst is a guy who can do that and looks very similar to late 2nd rounder Toumani Camana (52nd-Suns).

Projection: Mid to Late 2nd Round

Other Possibilities: Cam Heide & Brian Waddell

It might be a bit of a stretch to consider these two as potential NBA players but when you start to peel back some of the negatives that have plagued these two players, it isn’t hard to see the intrigue. The athleticism, size, and measurables are there but the skill development and staying healthy will be the key.

Prior to a knee injury that wiped out Waddell’s redshirt season, it was rumored that he was the talk of the summer of 2021 that featured Trevion Williams, Zach Edey, and Jaden Ivey. Waddell was said to flash during scrimmages and that NBA scouts that had shown up to watch those three left with questions about the 6’8 true freshman who was showing an immense potential skill set. That knee injury, which clearly was still impacting him last season, really set him back from a developmental standpoint and he still doesn’t appear to tip the 200lb mark quite yet with that height. If Waddell can get the confidence back in his knee and continue to develop, a 6’8 wing with guard skills and good shot making ability from deep is a valuable commodity in the NBA

As with Waddell, Heide had a long recovery from injury that really stunted his development. As athletic a player as Matt Painter has ever recruited, Heide drips with the measurables and athleticism you see at the top of the NBA Draft boards every season. At 6’7 and 205 pounds, Heide’s build and potential look more like those that are at Michigan State, Michigan, or Ohio State and not Purdue. Heide took a redshirt to fully heal from the foot issues that plagued him at the end of his high school career and even into the summer of his freshman season, but pregame was where fans got a chance to see what may lie ahead for Heide. Heide was a former top 25 player in his class back in 2019 but the injuries seemed to get in the way and he eventually dropped out of the top 100. That potential is still there and the ceiling is incredibly high for him.

The video for Heide is from high school but gives an extended look at the type of player he can be when his body is fully cooperating with him. A great build to withstand contact and a very nice looking shot from the outside to pair with his athleticism. He isn’t the fluid type of athlete we have seen from Ivey or will see from Colvin but Heide’s athleticism jumps off the page.