Ryan Cline is a 6’4″ guard from Carmel, Indiana who is just about the perfect example of “Indiana basketball player.” He’s a gym rat type who has developed into one of the best shooters in his entire class. They think in time he can be more than just a shooter, though, as he was a good passer who showed good court vision in HS. I think the main issues will be figuring out how to defend and this level and getting physically stronger in order to take a Big Ten style pounding. I’m not sure how many minutes are out there for him as a freshman but if you can shoot, you’ve always got a chance to help and he can.
Grant Weatherford is a physical 6’2′ guard whose reputation has been earned mostly on the defensive end. For obvious reasons, he gets Chris Kramer comparisons…we’ll see if he can do enough things well enough to get on the court and make that comparison something to evaluate. For now, he’d likely see time at the point because Purdue lacks other options but if they do bring in a grad transfer, I can see a redshirt for Weatherford. Down the road, I can imagine he finds his way into a role because he seems to be a stereotypical Boiler type player with strength, toughness and grit. His time may just not be now.
Purdue has a deep, balanced roster in every way except one…they lack a legitimate starting point guard option. Thompson is actually a pretty good backup but doesn’t seem ready to play 25-30 mpg at this point in his development and Weatherford is very much an unknown in terms of his readiness. So, not surprisingly, Painter has been very active in looking for a grad transfer to solve his problem, much as Octeus did for last year’s team. The Boilers have already been ruled out for Dylan Ennis, the Villanova transfer who is still considering Illinois alongside two other programs. However, they hosted Texas Arlington transfer Johnny Hill over the weekend, so he’s a definite possibility. Hill is from the Chicago area, so he makes sense in terms of geographic background, and he averaged 10.1 ppg and 3.8 assists per game. He isn’t a great jumpshooter but he rebounds well and has good size for the position at 6’3″. He would seem to be a better option than what Purdue currently has available. However, as is becoming common in recent years, every day around this time of year seems to bring new possibilities. Just today, former Seton Hall point guard Sterling Gibbs announced he will transfer. Gibbs has *really* strong credentials. He averaged 16.3 ppg on 43% shooting from deep and had 3.8 assists per game as well. He’s yet to indicate whether Purdue will be on his radar (Ohio State, who could probably use another true point guard option to help freshman AJ Harris, has been mentioned along with UConn) but he would make sense on paper. Painter does have a particular kind of need, though…with this team’s interior strength, he needs to make sure any addiiton is willing to get the ball inside as a priority. A guard looking to showcase his own offense at the expense of Purdue’s obvious strengths probably isn’t a good fit. I’m betting SOMEONE gets added from this pool of options, it’s just unclear who at this moment.
OVERALL – If Purdue can find a capable floor leader, this definitely looks like an NCAA caliber team next year and probably a good choice as a Big Ten title darkhorse. I’ve got them 6th because that’s how deep the league is and right now, they do have a point guard issue. THey could easily finish higher than this.
The strengths are obvious…Purdue has great size in the paint, proven producers at both ends of the court. They have a number of guys with length and versatility elsewhere, with Davis, Edwards and Stephens forming a really nice 2-3-4 combination. They have some decent depth with Mathias, Haas and Thompson all having gained a year of experience, Smotherman providing a veteran presence and perhaps Taylor emerging as a legit option at the 4.
The Boilers could stand to be better from deep and of course they have to find that floor leader somewhere. STill, I like their roster and I like their talent. This is certainly going to be a dangerous team once again.