The last week or so has been great for fans of the Purdue Boilermakers’ men’s basketball team.
First, the team found themselves back in contention in terms of landing five-star recruit Caleb Swanigan after he de-committed from Michigan State. Next, they received a commitment from former UT-Arlington guard Johnny Hill, a move that will certainly bolster their back court for the 2015-16 season.
As the off-season continues to move along, Purdue will likely be in the news again as they are in the hunt for more talented recruits and potential transfer targets as they aim to contend in the Big Ten conference next season.
With all of the recent changes, it got us thinking about what their starting five could look like next season. Below, you can find what we think the starting five will look like for next season, plus a brief discussion on their depth chart and bench players for the 2015-16 season.
Guard: Johnny Hill (Senior)
The addition of Johnny Hill for Matt Painter is a huge addition to the back court. In Hill, the Boilermakers have a player who can run things from the point, and can step in and replace fan-favourite Jon Octeus right away. Hill won’t light up the scoreboard in terms of points, but he will provide some stability on the back end in what will be a talented and experienced lineup for Purdue in 2015-16.
Guard: Rapheal Davis (Senior)
Davis is another one of the three talented seniors in the lineup for the Boilermakers in 2015-16. He enjoyed a breakout season in 2014-15, averaging 10.7 points per contest as a junior. In Big Ten play, he put together a string of five straight games with double-digit points, including a season-high 24-point performance against Iowa on January 24th. As his role increases as a senior, he’ll get more minutes and enjoy another breakout year in the process.
Guard: Kendall Stephens (Junior)
Hill stands at 6’3”, Davis at 6’5”, and Stephens rounds out the tall trio of guards by standing at 6’6”. The guards at Purdue are tall, which will provide match-up problems for opponents, but they are also very talented in their own right. Stephens only shot 35% from the floor as a sophomore in 2014-15, averaging 8.7 points per game in the process. If he can improve his shooting numbers from a year ago, he will find himself a mainstay in Purdue’s starting five. In our projected five, he’s the one who would be the first one to be swapped out.
Forward: Vince Edwards (Sophomore)
The 4-spot on the Boilermakers is also a spot that can be flipped around for several players. However, based on what we saw out of Edwards as a freshman in 2014-15, we feel that he’s worthy of a starting spot on opening night in 2015-16. The 6’7” forward averaged 8.8 points per game last season, and showed flashes of some deep shooting range that make him a dual threat on the offensive end. With his range (32.6% from 3 in 2014-15), he could play either at the 3-or 4-spot for Matt Painter, which gives the coaching staff options on the offensive end. As we know, having options is never a bad thing.
Forward: A.J. Hammons (Senior)
Despite the talent on the rest of the roster, A.J. Hammons is the key piece to Purdue’s successes. Hammons quietly developed into one of the conference’s premier big men last season, averaging 11.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game. As he continues to develop, he will be an even bigger force on both ends of the floor in 2015-16. His decision to forego the NBA Draft and return to school was a massive one for the program, as it made them Big Ten title contenders next season. Now, Purdue fans everywhere are hoping that Hammons can continue to develop, and that Painter and Co. can live up to their expectations.
Obviously this starting five could change, and it most likely will over the course of the offseason and the start of next season. As mentioned above, Purdue is still in the running for Caleb Swanigan’s services, along with several other lesser-known recruits. The decisions of these recruits could shake up Painter’s lineup for 2015-16.
You can also expect Purdue to continue to be active on the transfer market, as they look to add more experienced pieces to the puzzle. They are in contention for Bradley’s Josh Cunningham, although he isn’t eligible to play until the 2016-17 season due to transfer regulations. If they could add a player of his caliber, a former ESPN 100 recruit, then the outlook for the future, beyond 2015-16, would also be great.
As you can see, the Purdue Boilermakers are going to be a legitimate threat in the Big Ten next season. With A.J. Hammons leading the way, expect the Boilermakers to make it back to the NCAA Tournament for the second season in a row.