Matt Painter has become one of the best coaches in College Basketball, however, recruiting isn’t exactly something Painter is known for. In the last decade while at Purdue, Matt Painter has only landed one 5-star recruit(Caleb Swanigan), and has only had one recruiting class rank within the Top 20 in the nation(2012) per 247 sports. Instead of trying to find the players ranked the highest, Painter has tried to focus on getting players who are the right fit, while developing them along the way. After getting commitments from Jaden Ivey, Ethan Morton, and Zach Edey in 2020, Purdue also got a commitment from Caleb Furst to get the 2021 class off to a good start. Furst’s commitment left Purdue with one more scholarship available for the 2021 class. So who is going to be the final piece in 2021?
The Four Main Targets
Harrison Ingram, a 6’6” wing from Dallas, Texas appears to be Purdue’s main focus for their final scholarship. Purdue seems to be searching for a player who they believe can play the 3 or the 4 and Ingram fits that description perfectly, thanks to his physical stature and ability to handle the ball. He plays in a kind of laid back way, while also using his physicality as an advantage to get to the rim. Ingram recently released his top 10 schools, which did include Purdue. Ingram would be only the 3rd 5-star commit Matt Painter has ever recruited.
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An Atlanta, Georgia wing is the next player Purdue appears to be after. Matthew Cleveland is a player with offers from a lot of schools around the nation, while also being rated highly by many recruiting sites. Cleveland would be one of the most athletic players Matt Painter has ever recruited, who also appears to have NBA potential. Cleveland could likely play the 4 in college, but could also stand to gain some muscle, though he does make up for his skinny frame with a long wingspan. Though Purdue was listed when he named his top 16 schools, a commitment seems unlikely considering the number of offers he has and the fact Purdue has seemed to show more interest in Ingram.
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Since the recruiting process started for Trey Kaufman it’s seemed that it was going to come down to the two Indiana schools in the Big Ten. When big men Caleb Furst and Logan Duncomb committed to Purdue and IU respectively, this put Kaufman in an interesting situation, however. Rumor does have it that Kaufman prefers to play the 4 and because of this IU looks like the favorites to land him. At Silver Creek High School in Sellersburg, Indiana, Kaufman mainly played in the post, though he is able to keep defenders honest with his 3 point shot and can drive with power to the rim, so playing on the perimeter is not too much of a stretch. Kaufman is a 4-star recruit by almost every recruiting site.
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The best word to describe Blake Wesley? Scorer. At 6’4” Wesley doesn’t fit the mold that the previous recruits listed match but nonetheless would be a solid addition that most schools would be thrilled to get. He is currently listed as a 4-star recruit and has been ranked as the 89th best player overall by 247 sports, but these rankings still underestimate Blake Wesley’s value. Though many scouts may not see him being an NBA prospect very soon, he is likely a player with a lot of potential at the college level thanks to his “score now” mentality. Because of the number of guards Purdue already has, a commitment from Wesley would likely mean him not seeing the court a lot in his first couple of seasons.
Video Credit to Matt Freeman
While last season was a rough one for Purdue filled with inconsistencies, the seasons prior were filled with a lot of progress. A big reason for the Boilermaker’s success was in large part because of recruiting and more specifically recruiting the right players. All the guys listed above seem like guys that Matt Painter does believe will help take the program to new levels. It should also be mentioned that while these are the four most likely candidates for the final scholarship in the 2021 class, it’s always entirely possible that Purdue stumbles upon another player who they love and believe is a good fit. Nonetheless, this will definitely be something to keep an eye on.
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