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Purdue Basketball Off-Season Homework: Trey Kaufman-Renn

The sophomore is set for a big jump with a full year of playing time under his belt

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 19 Ohio State at Purdue Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The next player to be featured in our off-season homework series is redshirt sophomore Trey Kaufman-Renn. With a redshirt season and a full season of playing time for experience, the third year sophomore will likely step into a larger role in the upcoming season, even with the return of National Player of the Year Zach Edey, swiss army knife big man Caleb Furst, and the sharpshooting power forward Mason Gillis.

Like Caleb Furst, Kaufman-Renn has the ability to play both the power forward and center position as Matt Painter has focused on finding skilled players who have the ability to play multiple positions (look at Miles Colvin and Kanon Catchings as examples). In his first season of playing time after sitting out his freshman year recovering from some injuries and adjusting to the game, Renn averaged 4.5 points, 1.8 rebounds, and .7 assists in just 11.3 minutes per game. This is a very solid first year for a player who was trying to find minutes behind the three players mentioned above and when you extrapolate into averages over 40 minutes, TKR’s numbers look really good: 16 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.3 steals.

The fans got a glimpse of what the ceiling could be for Kaufman-Renn’s game with Edey forced to sit out due to illness early in the season against New Orleans. In that game, TKR played 26 minutes while scoring 24 points on 8-10 shooting. In that game, he was able to play extended minutes and get himself into the flow of the game where he showcased an advanced skillset in the post with multiple moves and played very well on the defensive end. I doubt that TKR gets that kind of opportunity this season unless Edey misses games or he shows a better ability to play the power forward position alongside Edey.

To get more minutes in what is likely the most logjammed front court in the country, TKR is going to have to improve immensely on both sides of the ball. He is still a very young player and unlike what Ledman mentioned about Mason Gillis in his offseason homework article essentially being a finished product, TKR has a ton of room to grow and improve. In what marks his third season with the program. this is likely going to be one of the biggest advancements in growth he will experience.

To get to that growth, TKR needs to work on adding some explosiveness and quickness to his body that he seemed to lack last season coming off his redshirt season. TKR doesn’t need to change his body drastically but adding more explosiveness to his athleticism will help him in the post and on the defensive end. In a scouting report from Jerry Meyer of 247 Sports from TKR’s time in high school, he said that Kaufman-Renn was ‘a good athlete but not considered an explosive athlete’ and that he ‘doesn’t have the quickest feet but is an intelligent and conscientious defender who can guard in the interior and on the perimeter.’ Improving on those aspects will help him grow his game enough to find more playing time this season because he simply becomes a better athlete with the foundation of skills he already possesses.

On the offensive side of the ball, Kaufman-Renn already is a highly skilled low post scorer who can get to his spot against almost any other defender in college basketball. You could see this many times last season in his patience with the ball in his hands and an ability to feel where the defender is and then manipulating them with strength in his lower half or finesse in his upper half. In the videos below, you can see him use both of these skills against Ohio State’s Justice Sueing.

Where he does need to work offensively is becoming more consistent in his ability to hit catch-and-shoot threes off actions run for Edey. Last year, TKR hit on just 25% of his three point attempts and he seemingly capable of being a 35% shooter from there in his career. He only took 20 shots from behind the arc last season and hitting just 2 more would push him into that range. He can also improve in his ability in the pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop to enhance the skills of players around him like Braden Smith, Lance Jones, Miles Colvin, and Fletcher Loyer. He could also stand to improve his rebounding from the center position but that appears much more to be about experience than it does about skill.

The biggest improvement TKR likely needs to focus is on the defensive end where he struggled at times with fouling multiple times in his short minutes because he didn’t move his feet or did not stay within the rules of verticality in the post. Using the same metric of averages per 40 minutes, TKR averaged roughly 5.4 fouls. He will also need to improve his defensive rebounding as he ranked the lowest of the four frontcourt players when looking at an advanced stat such as defensive rebounding percentage, which is an estimate of the available defensive rebounds a player grabbed while they were on the floor. Edey came in first at a staggering 27.2%, with Caleb Furst next at 17.2%, Mason Gillis at 14.4%, and TKR last with 10.5%. There is obviously going to be limited amount of chances if you are playing next to Edey as a power forward but nonetheless, it is an area of improvement.

Another piece to round out TKR’s off-season improvement would be his percentages at the foul line. Last season, he shot just 64.4% from the free throw line going 38-59. Being as effective as he is from the low post, he really needs to get that percentage into the mid-70’s if he is going to punish teams for defending him with smaller players (when playing at the power forward position) or when they simply can’t handle his low post moves.

All in all, the biggest chance for his improvement is just going to be having a full year of college experience to build off of like Braden Smith, Fletcher Loyer, and Matt Waddell. That foursome will see a major jump in their skills and improvement just on that fact alone. The grind of the B1G can be a rough one and it was really evident for those four near the end of the season. A year of experience and a full off season with the training staff may be the biggest improvement the program sees from last season.

TKR will head into the 2023-2024 season as someone who may vault himself into a starting role at the power forward position if he can show he can defend the perimeter well, shoot threes at a consistent percentage, and be an effective scorer alongside Zach Edey in the middle. If he comes off the bench again, Purdue may be in the position of again having one of the best low post scorers in the country just waiting on the bench to come in.