Purdue's recruiting class is top-heavy, and Grant Weatherford is a part of it. They have three freshmen this season, but it's definitely a case of quality over quantity. Caleb Swanigan (inside presence) and Ryan Cline (outside shooting) each bring unique, elite skills to the table. How might Weatherford fit with an already good class?
Grant Weatherford (Hamilton Heights - Cicero, Indiana) is a 3-star recruit, according to ESPN. He's a 6'2", 215 pound point guard, who at one time was interested in playing football for the Boilermakers. (He was a football standout in high school and talked about walking on to the basketball team.) But, his interest has turned to Purdue basketball when he committed in August 2014.
I should mention that Weatherford will redshirt this season, which is actually a positive. Purdue has experience in the backcourt, and he'll benefit from a year of practice without losing a year of eligibility. With that, let's take a look at his game.
Weatherford has been compared early to Chris Kramer (Purdue's two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year). Painter loves Weatherford's attitude and intangibles, and so do the other coaches. They expect him to bring a certain intensity to practice that'll help those around him raise their games.
Defense is his calling card at the moment. Weatherford will get into offensive players, and through shear effort and intensity, he'll impact the game significantly on that end. He played point guard in high school, but could defend multiple positions. At 6'2", he may be slightly undersized to guard twos, but his effort and physical strength will allow him to overcome any height deficiencies.
Offensively, Weatherford can handle the ball, and actually has good vision. He'll find open teammates when probing with the dribble. He also attacks the basket aggressively and is a good finisher. Physically, Weatherford's a bit more developed than the average freshman, so he can finish through contact.
Because he plays with great effort, Weatherford attacks the offensive and defense glass from the perimeter. It's a tremendous skill to have as a guard because he'll get scoring opportunities, and really impact the game.
His physicality on offense and defense should help him long term at Purdue. Painter, who like his predecessor, loves tough, hard-nosed ball players, and Weatherford fits the mold. He won't wow on highlight reels, but he'll consistently make winning plays.
Areas for Improvement
Weatherford, and he admits it, will need to work on his jumper. He can shoot threes, but he's not consistent. If he attacks his jumper, like he attacks every other weakness in his game, he'll work himself into a very competent shooter. Now, he won't be a high volume shooter, or at least that won't be his role. Weatherford just needs to become a consistent threat from that range.
He could also improve his overall ballhandling. He's not going to be tasked with heavy ballhandling right away, but eventually (a couple years), he could be in a position to command more of the offense.
Weatherford is the embodiment of a Purdue basketball player, at least in my mind. Tough and hard-nosed, Painter will never question Weatherford's effort. Obviously, with redshirting this year, he won't see any game action, but he'll be able to focus on developing his game and bringing energy to practice.
Weatherford comes to Purdue with a chip on his shoulder. He has been doubted basketball-wise for some time, (occasionally not included in elite camps or all-star teams). I suspect he's the type of player who uses that as fuel, and drives him to work even harder.
I'm projecting, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Weatherford emotionally anchoring a future Purdue team (like Aaron Craft or even Josh Gasser, to a lesser extent, did), with his effort and determination.