High expectations are surrounding a Purdue program trying to build on a first-round exit in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. In our previous articles previewing the Boilermakers' season, we took a look at Purdue's stacked frontcourt as well as analyzing their depth in the backcourt. With most of the buzz heading in to the 2015-16 season about Purdue's frontcourt, today we take a look at what the Boilermakers have on the wing to complement the big men up front.
With just 2 players returning that play a true small forward position, Matt Painter's squad is a little thin on the wing. Obviously, this will not be the strong part of this Purdue team with their top two leading scorers returning in center AJ Hammons and guard Raphael Davis. On the wing next to these talented players, look for Vince Edwards to get the majority minutes, with Basil Smotherman
Vince Edwards, Sophomore, Forward
An ESPN Top 100 recruit in 2014, Edwards had a very successful freshman season in West Lafayette. The 6'7'' forward averaged 8.8 points per game while also contributing 4.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists. This was an impressive first year for the Ohio native, and look for him to have an even better second season for the Boildermakers.
One of the things Edwards will want to improve on is his outside shooting. While his 33% mark from deep his freshman season isn't a disaster, but Edwards will have a lot of opportunities to improve with a frontcourt that will demand double teams and leave the perimeter open for shooters. It will be interesting to see how Painter works his lineups as he has two big men, Isaac Haas and AJ Hammons, along with freshman sensation Caleb Swanigan also at the power forward position. These three should all see major minutes with Edwards playing the 3 alongside two of them for a majority of most games.
Basil Smotherman, Junior, Forward
Basil Smotherman may be just that, smothered, on the depth chart in his junior season in West Lafayette. After seeing his minutes decrease from 19 to 13 per game from his freshman to sophomore season, there has been talk of a possible redshirt season for the 6'6'' forward. With the arrival of Swanigan on campus and the return of Edwards along with the two bigs in the frontcourt, there's not much time left for the Indianapolis native. The way Smotherman can earn some minutes is by improving his shooting from deep, but that seems like a long shot after just a 5-33 mark in his first two seasons on campus. Smotherman will fill in when needed and do a little bit of everything for Matt Painter when he's on the court, but don't expect him to be a big part of the Boildermakers' plan for in 2015-16.
Grady Eifert, Freshman, Forward
A preferred walk-on, I wouldn't expect Eifert to see much of the court for Matt Painter. His father, Greg Eifert, was a big part of the Big Ten Champion Boilermakers in 1984.
Matt Painter doesn't need much from his wings in 2015-16. He just needs them to complement his extremely talented bigs and play well alongside Raphael Davis. Vince Edwards is by far the most talented wing Purdue has and will see the majority of minutes at the 3 position this season. Look for him to have a breakout year after a very impressive, all-around freshman season.