Some of these “homework” posts are easy to write. There tends to be some consensus on what a player needs to improve in the offseason. We’ve seen most of these players throughout their high school and college careers. Camden is a little different. After leading Wayzata High School to the 2021 4A Minnesota State Championship with Wayzata High School he transferred to basketball factory Wasatch Academy in Utah for his senior year and promptly broke the second metatarsal in his right foot. He tried to come back and play in 2022 but shut it down after breaking the 3rd metatarsal in the foot in training. No one has seen Heide play in an actual game since November 30th, 2021.
I don’t know what Camden needs to work on but I do know what he was supposed to bring to the Boilermakers when the 4* star, top 100 player committed to Matt Painter on June 15th, 2021. In theory, this is what he brings to the table next season.
Length and Athleticism on the Wing
I don’t know what Camden will look like in a game, but I do know what he looks like in warm-ups. The 6’7”, 205 pound wing can throw down a dunk. He entertained the home crowd before every game by showing off his dunking prowess. My man can elevate and electrify the crowd.
For me, that’s one thing that was lacking last season. Coach Painter had solid pieces on the bench, but no one who was capable of coming in and changing momentum on his own. Get Heide in the open court and he’s capable of breaking an offensive lull by himself by bringing everyone to their feet.
This season, assuming he or Myles Colvin don’t start, the second unit should be must-see television. I hope this helps Purdue’s propensity to get out early and then let a team close hard before half once the bench gets into the game. He should provide the burst of energy off the bench that was missing last season. I desperately want to see Purdue run more with their second unit this season. I’d like Matt Painter to use his young guys as a way to change momentum when the Boilers are struggling and to bury the opposition when they’re up. I don’t expect Heide to play starter minutes, but that should help him play at 100% intensity when he is on the court.
Camden’s offensive game isn’t limited to spine rattling dunks. He shot over 40% from deep his junior year at Wayzata High School. The more I write about Heide the more I think he was the missing piece off the bench last season. An athletic 6’7” wing capable of knocking down shots from deep is the exact type of player teams like FDU struggle against. You can game plan against post players, but there isn’t much you can do to bother the shot of a 6’7” wing waiting on the perimeter to either bury a 3 or show the ball and dunk it on the head of a future accountant.
Heide can run and dunk in transition (or spot up from 3), but he can also space the floor in the half court and use his length to make entry passes into Purdue’s post monsters. Purdue had shooting with Gillis and Newman on the wing, and ball handling and passing with Morton, but none of those guys have the complete wing game of Camden. Gillis could shoot, but wasn’t a threat to dribble, much less drive the ball. Newman could get hot from the outside, but every moment he had the ball in his hands was a potential turnover. Then you had Morton, who didn’t make the jump in play I expected as a Jr. He was OK, and gave Purdue ball handling and size on the wing they were otherwise lacking, but his shooting was spotty at best and he struggled to finish at the rim. Teams were happy to sit back and challenge Ethan Morton to beat them. If you sit back and challenge Heide he might put your center on a poster or knock down a 3 over a closeout.
Purdue didn’t have anyone like Camden on the roster last season, and he will be a welcome addition to next year’s squad.
Length and Athleticism on the Wing
He brings the same thing to defense that he brings to offense. He’s solidly built 6’7” athlete capable of disrupting the offense. The only player on the roster that came close to that was Ethan Morton, and he did an admirable job as the Boilermakers de-facto lock down defender, but he doesn’t have the same athletic juice as Heide. Camden has the type of hops that shooters worry about. No one was worried about Morton sending their catch and shoot jumper into the stands on a close out, they won’t have the same luxury with Heide.
His length should also help with pick and roll defense. He can hedge out and make life difficult on the ball handler, or he can follow the roll man and use his long arms to dissuade the pass. He won’t be perfect on defense this season. Freshmen often struggle with over playing and I could see Camden get burned on occasion looking to make the big play instead of the right play, but I’ll take that every day over a defender not physically capable of making the play, even if they’re in position. If there is a play to be made, Heide can make it.
This is too easy. An athletic 6’7” wing capable of stealing a defenders soul at the rim or dropping a 3 over the outstretched fingertips of a closing defender? Vince Edwards all-day.
In fact, after fielding teams starring Robbie Hummell and Vince Edwards on the wing, Heide is a bit of a throwback for Matt Painter. It’s been a minute since you’ve seen a player like Robbie or Vince on the court. Heide brings that type of potential. Obviously it’s all potential at the moment, but this staff works wonders with guys that don’t have what Camden has going for him. Physically, he’s the stretch 4 or big wing that we’ve been waiting for since Vince played his final game as a Boilermaker. Now we need to see it on the court.
Speaking of which.....
Foot injuries suck. I’m not sure why some of the most fragile bones in the body are required to handle the most stress. They’re notoriously hard to recover from because if you come back too soon, you’re going to break it again, and the more you break it, the easier it is to break it again. That’s already happened to Heide once, and did I mention that he broke a bone in his other foot as a sophomore in high school? Those hooves make me nervous.
It’s hard to tell someone to not break their foot, but if Camden wants to reach his full potential at Purdue and beyond. I’d suggest he avoid breaking his foot again. He needs time in actual basketball games before his obvious potential can convert to production. Making it through a full season is a must for the young gunner out of Minnesota. He has the potential to be a special player if his feet cooperate.