FISHERS, Ind. -- P.J. Thompson is doing to Carmel shooting guard Ryan Cline what Purdue coach Matt Painter won't:
Push him for a Boilers commitment.
In a fun way, of course.
“He's putting a little pressure on me,” Cline says, “but he's just joking around. He wants me to do what I want to do. He helps me out through the whole process. It means a lot as a friend.”
Thompson is an Indiana All-Star who recently signed with Purdue. Shortly after that, the Boilers offered a scholarship to Cline, a junior sharp-shooter who is rising quickly in recruiting projections.
Purdue assistant coach Brandon Brantley watched Cline during this weekend's adidas Spring Classic. Cline helped his Indiana Elite Diesel team to a pair of dominating victories while keeping a low-key approach to his suddenly higher-profile attention.
“I'm not a guy who wants to be the center of attention,” he says. “I'm just trying to keep it down, not get too excited and get too into things and be a cocky player. That's not what I am off the court. Maybe on the court a little bit, but not off.”
The 6-5 Cline has reason to be cocky after going from sophomore reserve to junior standout. He led a powerhouse Carmel team in scoring (16.9 points), shot 43 percent from three-point range and earned a spot on Indiana's Junior All-Star team. He's emerged as a contender for next year's Mr. Basketball award.
“For me as a player, I'm trying to stay down to earth, not let it get to me. Just play my game. The more I do, the more fun it will be for me.”
Purdue surprised Cline with its offer. His previous offers were from smaller-profile schools such as Northern Kentucky, Belmont, South Alabama and Lipscomb.
But when Cline made an unofficial visit to West Lafayette earlier this month, Painter and his staff gave him extra special attention. Every coach was there.
“That did surprise me,” Cline says. “That got me thinking a little bit, that they had high interest in me. That was pretty cool.”
They took a golf-cart for a campus tour, visited the business school, met with the basketball academic adviser and watched film on current player Kendall Stevens and former Boiler Ryne Smith. Both are, like Cline, good outside shooters.
“They showed me how their motion offense ran with E'Twaun Moore and Robbie Hummel,” Cline says. “They talked about location and being close to home. They talked about the players they have. I know some of them. The way they play is a lot like Carmel.”
Inconsistent shooting contributed to Purdue's struggles this season (a 15-17 record) and with Stevens and incoming freshman Dakota Mathias, Painter has addressed that to an extent, but you can never have enough good shooters. Cline's strong shooting is a family tradition given his father, Mike, played at Ohio State in the late 1970s, and has worked with his son on his shot.
The result is the kind of player Painter wants.
“They said I'm a shooter and have decent ball skills,” Cline says. “They said I make good decisions. I might score 30, but only take nine shots, so there's a degree of efficiency. That's one thing they looked at me for.
“They treated me really well.”
Still, Cline isn't ready to commit, and Painter didn't push.
“There was no pressure. They want me to make the right decision for me, which is important for me. I really appreciate that.
“I'm keeping my options open. It's a big-time offer. It's pretty exciting, but I don't know what I'm going to do.”
In the meantime Cline continues to work on his all-around game and prove he is more than a spot-up shooter.
“I'm trying to get stronger, gain some weight, create more off the dribble for myself and my teammates. I want to drive and kick, drive and step back, drive and pull-up. Plus, dribble and ball-handling stuff.”
A strong travel ball season could lead to other offers. Butler and Xavier are looking at him. St. Louis is making a push with assistant coach Calbert Cheaney, the former Indiana All-America, who recently had an in-home visit with Cline.
“I'm looking for a good coaching staff, good all around people, good players, a great school and great academics," Cline says. "I'm not really picky as long as I get to know the coaches and players and everything about the school.
"My main thing is I will talk it over with my family, see what I like and what they like. What schools are really after me. That's what's going to my final decision.”