For the second time in three years, it appears Nojel Eastern will put his name in the NBA Draft according to Mike Carmin of the Lafayette Journal &Courier. Today was the deadline for Underclassmen to put their names into the draft for the NBA draft advisory committee to consider. Despite entering, Nojel will still have the option to return for his senior season as per NBA Draft rules, a player can still return if they do not hire an agent.
What Eastern has done so far
Eastern came to Purdue as a 4 Star recruit out of Evanston, Illinois and was considered a huge get for Matt Painter’s 2017 recruiting class. While he didn’t start as a freshman, he did get some decent playing time, considering his youth on a veteran team, that would be in the AP top 10 most of the year. When on the floor Eastern proved to be a strong defender while showing a lot of toughness. Eastern’s best game was probably against Wisconsin that year, as overall it was a game Purdue struggled to get their offense going. Eastern finished with 7 points in a 57-53 defeat.
In the next two seasons, expectations ran high for the guard. His sophomore season, Eastern started in 35 out of Purdue’s 36 games but struggled in the first half of the season. Eastern’s struggles mainly pertained to the free throw line as he only made 3 out of his first 12 shots. Eastern was able to fix this issue, however, finishing the season with a much improved 65% from the charity stripe. This helped turn around the Boilermaker’s season in a big way, going from a 6-5 record to being a buzzer beater away from a final four.
Expectations were even higher when Eastern was named a Pre-season All-Big Ten selection to begin the year. Eastern’s shooting woes continued from the previous year, however. In what was overall a down year for Purdue, finished averaging only a little more than 4 points a game. Eastern did finish the year as a Big Ten All Defensive team selection for the second year in a row, as one bright spot.
What the NBA could be getting
If the Eastern does enter the draft, one thing the NBA would be getting is a great on ball defender. Eastern has routinely been assigned the task to cover the opponent’s best player pretty much every game and has a career average of 0.9 steals per game. Eastern also brings versatility on the defensive side as he can pretty much guard 4 different positions, thanks to being 6’6″ and 225 pounds. This was one thing that made many many Purdue fans excited about Eastern as it’s not every day you see a 6’6″ point guard. Eastern’s offensive game is still very much a work in progress, which is visible just looking at his stats. Eastern has struggled shooting as he has a career shooting percentage of only 55%. In terms of three point shooting, Eastern hasn’t even made one since his Freshman season. In terms of ball handling, Eastern can handle it well enough to be a point guard but could still stand for some improvement. He has a 2:1 assist to turnover ratio over his career. Eastern overall brings a lot of toughness, grit, and is a strong leader.
I would say this is a shocker considering Eastern’s down year, but considering he put his name in after his freshman season, I’m not that surprised. More than likely, Eastern will just be getting some feedback for some things he needs to work on next season as a senior. He will have until June 3rd to withdraw his name.
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