Purdue men's basketball coach Matt Painter finds himself in a unique, but positive situation. He had three players unexpectedly leave this spring and now he has more scholarships available than he ever considered having going into the 2013-14 season.
He has the option of bringing in a junior college transfer or a transfer from another program, and Painter recently said that he and his coaches are considering everything, including doing nothing at all.
“We've looked at all possibilities,” Painter said. “But it is also trying to get the right guys.”
One “right guy” that Painter is trying to sign is recent Cornell University graduate Errick Peck. The Cathedral High School graduate visited Purdue on Wednesday and has been offered a scholarship by Painter.
The 6-foot-6 forward sat out his junior season after suffering a knee injury, and just completed his senior season with that program. However, the Ivy League does not allow players that have graduated, yet still have a season of eligibility, to remain enrolled and play a fifth season.
“The fifth-year guys are the ones that a lot of people are looking toward all over the country,” Painter said. “They are probably the most over-recruited guys in the history of college basketball.”
As Peck can attest.
Peck did not even average in double figures (9.7 points and 4.8 rebounds this past season), yet Purdue, Xavier and Duquesne are each interested in his joining their programs.
So why is that?
“Because you have them for a year and they already have their degree,” Painter said. “And they have four years of experience. A lot of people are looking for that quick-fix guy if you need a shooter, then try and get a shooter, if you need a ball-handler, then try and get a ball-handler. But everybody is trying to get them.”
Peck wouldn't fill a particularly weak area for the Boilermakers. As an undersized power forward, Peck would battle redshirt freshman Jay Simpson (6-foot-9), who Painter said can be one of the more talented front court players in the Big Ten next season, as well as veteran Donnie Hale (6-foot-7) and incoming freshman Basil Smotherman (6-foot-7).
“I think that it has been really confusing for these kids,” Painter said. “No one really has done the data on these kids leaving programs in the last two or three years as a success rate. And all of these schools are coming after them. There have been a couple of guys that have been successful, but there haven't been a lot of them.”
Painter said that he is still in search of improving his team's perimeter shooting and would like to do so with a player that has immediate eligibility if possible.
“We're in a position where if we can get a guy that is the right fit, and can shoot the basketball, and give experience to us, it really helps us,” Painter said.
Aside from shooting that could benefit the Boilermakers, Painter could also possibly add a player or two that would even out his roster. With the departures of Anthony Johnson and Jacob Lawson this spring, the Boilermakers have no juniors returning next season.
Travis Carroll and Terone Johnson will be the lone seniors, while Rapheal Davis, Hale, A.J. Hammons, and Ronnie Johnson form the sophomore class, and Simpson, Smotherman, Bryson Scott and Kendall Stephens are the four freshmen.
“We have younger players,” Painter explained, “We have four freshmen, four sophomores, no juniors and two seniors, so it makes sense to sign a junior college player that goes into that (junior) class. (But) We have to make sure that we are getting the right person that wants to come and get their education at Purdue. You have to get guys that meet those criteria, so that really thins out your pool.”