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A deeper Boiler-Fort Wayne connection

Monday, April 23, 2012 - 12:01 am

Could Purdue go the route of Wisconsin football and bring in a one-and-done fifth-year basketball standout?

Anything is possible, coach Matt Painter said.

The Boilers have a one-year scholarship for next season now that guard John Hart has decided to transfer to a program where he can get more playing time.

The NCAA has changed the rules so that if a player graduates, but has a final-year of eligibility remaining, he can transfer to another school without having to sit out a year. Quarterback Russell Wilson did that at Wisconsin last season and led the Badgers to the Rose Bowl after starring at North Carolina State.

So if, say, a successful point guard from another school wanted to transfer for a final season, the Boilers have a scholarship to accommodate him.

“You always consider bringing somebody on,” Painter said. “We've contemplated a four-year transfer, a junior college transfer, a high school recruit or a fifth-year guy. We haven't done anything yet. We haven't done the fifth-year thing at all.”

Michigan State did it this past season when guard Brandon Wood, a first-team All-Horizon League standout at Valparaiso, transferred to play his final season with the Spartans.

“The intention of the rule was academics, but it's ended up not being an academic rule, but for guys graduating and looking for more playing time,” Painter said. “I don't mind the rule. With John, he wants to play more. It makes a lot of sense.

“Now if this was a guy you needed to return to play and you were counting on him, and then he leaves, as a coach that would be pretty difficult. But from a player's standpoint, they're also getting the opportunity to achieve their goals or do whatever it is on their end. The academic intentions are not happening right now.”

Transfer rules and scenarios generated controversy last week in the wake of Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan initially banning 6-8 freshman forward Jarrod Uthoff from transferring to any Big Ten or ACC school, plus Marquette, Florida and Iowa State.

In the public relations furor that followed, Ryan came across as mean spirited. Ryan went on ESPN's Mike & Mike Show and the interview didn't go well. Ryan eventually backed off and allowed Uthoff to transfer anywhere except a Big Ten school, which is the normal practice among college coaches, who don't want a transferring player to end up with a conference rival.

Basically Ryan said the reason he initially blocked all those schools was because he didn't want to compete against Uthoff. Wisconsin plays Marquette every year, participates in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge and just signed a contract to play Florida. As for Iowa State, it's a big school in a nearby state.

Ryan isn't alone in placing bans. When Michigan forward Evan Smotrycz decided to transfer, coach John Beilein banned him from any school that appears on the Wolverines' schedule for the next two years. South Carolina fired Darrin Horn and hired Frank Martin from Kansas State, then didn't allow starting center Damontre Harris to transfer to North Carolina State because a former South Carolina assistant coach, Orlando Early, is now a North Carolina State assistant. Tula fired coach Doug Wojcik, hired Danny Manning and told transferring guard Jordan Clarkson he was banned from five of the eight schools he was looking at.

Despite the public perception, college rules in the past left schools giving scholarships on a one-year basis, which meant the coach could annually renew or end the scholarship. That usually depended on how good -- or bad -- the player was. If the player wasn't good enough, the coach could pull the scholarship. But if the player wanted to transfer, he needed the coach to release him.

Last winter the NCAA changed the rules so schools can now give out multi-year scholarships, so they can commit to a player for more than one year.

Painter has had players transfer in the past and said he generally doesn't put restrictions on where they can go.

“I try to be straight forward with guys when we have them,” he said. “We had a kid, Chris Lutz, who came to me and wanted to transfer. I really wanted him to stay, but he wasn't happy. We gave him a blanket release and let him go. I still wish to this day he had stayed.

“We had another kid, Scott Martin, who transferred to Notre Dame. He did a great job there. I wanted him to stay, but he wasn't happy.

“You have to let kids go if they don't want to be here. If you fight them after they've mentioned they want to go, it's not good for anybody.”

As far as coaches banning transferring players from certain schools, Painter said it should be “a player by player thing.”

“I don't know if you can give a blanket answer to it that would apply to all cases.

“(As far as the Ryan-Uthoff situation), I don't know the whole case. But generally speaking, here's what happens. The one thing you don't want or don't want to feel like is there's some tampering going on. That happens sometimes. It's hard to prove, but it does happen.”

In other words, coaches or officials from School A communicate with a player on School B to convince him to transfer to them while he's still playing for School B.

“I'm not saying it happened in (the Wisconsin) case,” Painter said. “You want to be able to recruit kids and have them fight through adversity and feel good about them. They also have the right to be happy. Sometimes it just doesn't work.”

Fort Wayne-Purdue Connection, Part II

To clarify on a recent story pertaining to Purdue's success with landing Fort Wayne area players, Eugene Parker was a Concordia standout while Alan Eldridge starred at Wayne. Also, former Northrop standout Tony Jones played for the Boilers.

Jones, a guard, played in the late 1980s and totaled 1,041 points, 248 assists and 287 rebounds.

Parker, a guard who played in the 1970s, totaled 1,430 points, 424 assists (seventh in school history) and 306 rebounds.

Eldridge, a guard from the late 1990s, had 844 points, 311 assists and 280 rebounds.

Chris Kramer, a three-sport athlete at Huntington North, was a Boiler defensive standout who graduated in 2010 after totaling 850 points, 397 rebounds, 337 assists and a school-record 274 steals.

Former Northrop standout Walter Jordan, who played with Parker, rates eighth among Purdue's best scorers with 1,813 career points and a 16.6 career scoring average. The forward ranks third in school history with 882 rebounds.

East Noble's Brad Miller had 1,530 points and 862 rebounds (to rank fourth at Purdue) while a Boiler in the 1990s.

Then there's former Harding center Craig Riley, who totaled 606 points and 267 rebounds in the early 1990s.

Former Concordia guard Ricky Hall had 621 points, 311 assists and 244 rebounds while playing in the early 1980s. He ranks fifth in Purdue history with 172 steals.

Greg Eifert, a former Bishop Dwenger forward, totaled 357 points and 257 rebounds in the early 1980s.