Grant Weatherford doesn't have high recruiting rankings. Most sites didn't even have him listed as basketball prospect, focusing on his football skills, where Purdue and Indiana were recruiting him.
Instead, he is headed to West Lafayette to play for Matt Painter and not Darrell Hazell and the Boilermaker program. His commitment this weekend gives Purdue its second for the Class of 2015 along with outside marksman Ryan Cline.
“I'm real excited. I can't wait to get down there,” Weatherford said. “I've talked to the players that are already there now and Ryan Cline and talked about how Robbie Hummel, JaJaun Johnson, E'Twaun Moore and that we are going to try and get the program back to the way it was back then, try and get that place bumping.”
Weatherford isn't the impact signing Purdue fans are hoping for, but he is bringing something the team has desperately needed – toughness and defense.
The Hamilton Heights High School guard has the look of former Huntington North and Purdue stalwart Chris Kramer. It's no surprise this is what Painter pitched him as potentially becoming while at Purdue.
“I've been compared to him (Kramer) not only by Purdue, but a lot of coaches,” Weatherford said. “That would be my role coming in and just being a defensive stopper and bringing energy and making an impact on the game without me even taking shots or having to score.”
Weatherford's body and football background helps with this idea. He has the strength and tenacity on the court to follow the former Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year's career.
Kramer became that by dedicating himself to the craft of stopping other team's players. It was the best way for him to find time on the court and Weatherford will likely need to do so to have an impact as well.
Purdue will have more than enough guards on the roster at that point with PJ Thompson, Bryson Scott, Kendall Stephens, Dakota Mathias and Cline. This doesn't even include if Painter nabs another guard in the 2015 class like Glynn Watson.
“Painter said that guard play wise, he loves playing guards so he doesn't feel it will be a problem and I'm not going to be upset about not getting enough shots or playing time,” Weatherford said. “He says if I work hard and anyone in Purdue's program, if you work hard in the weight room, conditioning, classroom and prove you can play, if you can score or if you can't, you'll play just by working hard.”
Weatherford will have to bring that attitude to find playing time on the court. He has the body and Painter is evidently making sure his program is filled with players that buy in to what the Boilermaker program became known for in hard work and defense.
His style isn't the flashiest, but neither was Kramer's, but it's tough to say Weatherford can become one of the best defender's in the country right now. If nothing else, though, it gives Painter another player that will push everyone on the roster to work harder. This could become his biggest impact.
“One of the things Painter told me is he wants to get Purdue back to the way they used to be, and he told me that one thing he has been missing out on would be recruiting not necessarily the best players, but the best hard-nosed people who do anything that it takes to win,” Weatherford said.
Weatherford fits that mold. The question now is if he can live up to the person he is being compared to from Purdue's past. He isn't the best player, but maybe that is exactly what Purdue needs to pull itself out of the cellar of the Big Ten.