Purdue has done well on the recruiting front lately.
The Boilers' class of 2012 is currently ranked No. 9 in the country by ESPN. Matt Painter and company have recruited talented, high-quality athletes to West Lafayette.
But the team has missed out on the biggest names it went after, especially within the state of Indiana. Players like Marquis Teague (Kentucky), Cody Zeller (Indiana), Yogi Ferrell (Indiana) and Branden Dawson (Michigan State) have all chosen to go elsewhere.
Hammer and Rails' Andrew Bastnagel says there's a reason for that.
"Painter has had a few misses that have caused many to question Painter's ability to land the 'big fish,'" Bastnagel said. "However, Painter has done a great job of not getting involved in some battles that he realizes he either a) won't win or b) won't win without a bloody recruiting battle. Many are circumstantial, or at least he's cut his losses. But at the end of the day, he's rebounded quite nicely."
The one major miss those in the know are willing to admit to is Dawson. Boilermaker fans were shocked when the Gary, Ind. swing announced his decision to join Tom Izzo's squad.
Bastnagel said Dawson, a McDonald's All-American, was wooed by Izzo himself and the Michigan State track record.
"Another side effect of missing out on Dawson was the fact that (Painter) missed out on many other players he could have been recruiting," Bastnagel said. "Painter virtually went 'all-in' on Dawson and when he came up short, he had very little options left that late in the game."
What Purdue has managed to reel in, though, should keep them near the top of the Big Ten for the next few years.
Rafael Davis is perhaps the biggest get in 2012. Davis, a consensus four-star player, is a big (6-foot-5) guard out of Fort Wayne, Ind. If nothing else, Davis is a big-time scorer.
"Davis has proven he can score in bunches already at the high school level," Leroy Bridges of The Boiling Points said. "It's hard telling how good anyone can truly be. But it appears Davis could be in line to be one of the next big scoring options once he gets to campus."
Ronnie Johnson, younger brother of current Purdue guard Terone Johnson, is five-feet 10-inches of speed. Johnson stock has been sky-rocketing in the last few months.
Competing with Johnson for minutes at the point will be Kyle Molock, a 6-2 commit from Dublin, Ohio. Molock missed his junior season in high school with a knee injury. Bastnagel said Molock has been cleared to play the July evaluation period with his AAU team, the Ohio Basketball Club.
"How effective he will be is another question given he's been out of competitive basketball for a year," Bridges said.
Jay Simpson, a 6-foot 9-inch power forward from Champaign, Ill., rounds out the 2012 group. He's a three or four star recruit, depending on the ranking service. Simpson could develop into a strong low-post presence if he can stay in shape.
The class of 2011 will add some much-needed size to the Purdue frontcourt.
Donnie Hale, originally a 2010 commit who spend a year in prep school, is a 6-8 forward from New Albany, Ind. Jacob Lawson is a 6-7 power forward from Greensboro, N.C.
"With Patrick Bade moving across the street for football, both Hale and Lawson will need to be ready," Hammer and Rails' Travis Miller said. "Especially if Travis Carroll and Sandi Marcius don't take a step forward."
Size could be an issue for the Boilers, who don't have any players taller than Hale in the coming years. Most Boiler fans think Carroll, Marcius and company will be sufficient, considering the amount of talent they'll be surrounded by.
"Matt Painter doesn’t really need to bring on another traditional big until 2014," Bastnagel said. "Right now, (2014 recuit) Tyler Wideman is one of Matt Painter’s targets to fill this void, but obviously it’s insanely early to anticipate how things work out."
"Sure, a lack of size could concern someone," Bridges said. "But let's not act like highly skilled 6-foot-8-plus players grow on trees. They don't."
Lawson suffered a torn achilles tendon in January and missed much of his senior basketball season. He is in West Lafayette, though and is expected to begin practicing with the team soon.
Still on the 2012 radar is Indianapolis five-star guard Gary Harris, who named his top five schools Friday as Purdue, Louisville, Notre Dame, Michigan State and Indiana. Harris would put to bed any ideas of Painter not being able to land the big fish.
"Gary Harris is an immediate impact player and obviously he’d make that impact anywhere in the nation. Matt Painter has made it clear that he will have a spot on the roster if he’d like to attend Purdue," Bastnagel said. "Without Harris, I feel very good about Purdue’s future with the class of 2012 and beyond. With Harris, I’d feel more comfortable tossing around the national championship contender label."
Read Travis Miller and Andrew Bastnagel (Purdue Pete) at Hammer and Rails and follow them on twitter @purduebball and @HammerAndRails. Read Leroy Bridges at The Boiling Points and follow him on twitter @PUBoilingPoints.