The Seven Footer Wasn’t the Purdue Logjam

In an
unprecedented era of no sports Purdue sports stayed the same with
some annual bad news. This week Matt Painter’s squad lost a senior
for the 2020 season when West Lafayette was shocked with the
announcement of Matt Haarms entering the transfer portal, leaving the
Boilers without one of their most experienced players for next
season.

Before Haarm’s
transfer the logjam was well noted with the full 13 scholarships set
to be used in the 2020 season. I speculated we could see a transfer
but I expected it to be rarely used center Emmanuel Dowuona or
forward Aaron Wheeler who had a forgettable sophomore season. Instead
Painter will be with out the one the best blockers in Boilermaker
history and a key rotation piece.

While shocking
the decision makes sense for the seven foot Dutchman. Haarms lost his
starting spot to Trevion Williams and was likely to overtake him
after Williams showed his ability to take over games offensively.
Dowuona is on the roster and Zach Edey is another incoming 7’3”
center for 2020. There was depth, not that Haarms wouldn’t get
minutes, but the will be senior wants to to be featured for scouts in
his last season to try and make the jump to the NBA.

The loss of
Haarms really encapsulates what the year was like for the Purdue
Boilermakers. A transition year for the roster with a tough schedule
was really up and down and it was hard to see who the new alphas
would after Carsen Edwards and Ryan Cline left West Lafayette. Eric
Hunter and Williams seemed to establish themselves as the two heads
of the offensive task, but Sasha Stefanovic was inconsistent away
from home, Nojel Eastern lost his offensive game and Wheeler was a
non-threat. Now it’ll be back to the drawing board for the ball coach
with the five combined freshmen and redshirt freshmen to figure out
who will contribute.

Losing a
senior who has been a solid contributor is never a good thing but
Matt Painter has 12 scholarship players and will return six other
major contributors. There’s depth at center but behind Williams, who
has struggled with fouls in games, is now untested as opposed to
unquestioned what will be done.

Forward Mason
Gillis and guard Brandon Newman come off their redshirt years with
Edey and guards Ethan Morton and Jaden Ivey joining the mix. Edey
seemed like a forgone conclusion to sit out a year with potentially
one of the guards, but now Edey will definitely have a chance to earn
back up minutes.

With
Stefanovic, Eastern, Hunter and Thompson in place the back court is
quite crowded, granted it will likely be a three guard, forward and
center starting lineup for Painter. Will there be minutes for the
three freshmen to see time? I like Newman and Morton to be part of a
five player rotation for 2020.

The real spot
to watch is forward with Wheeler really needing a bounce back season
and hopes the redshirt year will have Gillis ready to step it up
should Wheeler be unable to shake his funk. With Evan Boudreaux and
Haarms Painter had the flexibility to put them at forward with a
center in 2020 the coach will have three true centers just putting
more pressure on the two forwards to really step up.

It seemed
pretty likely Purdue wasn’t going to get in to March Madness but
there were some highs to build on. Several new faces were asked to
step up in should be in position to take the reigns for the 2020 and
get back to the tournament. However, being a Purdue fan is being a
cynic. For 2021 Painter got a big recruit in Caleb Furst, who should
unquestionably walk in to the starting lineup, but you gotta worry a
bit about the effect this next season could have on his recruitment.

Haarms was a
big part of this Purdue program taking another step forward for Matt
Painter and I wish him well but after a season with some unanswered
questions the Boilermakers head in to another season with a few more.
Can the young kids step up once again so that Elite 8 appearance
isn’t a one off?