Purdue's off to a great start despite a recent loss to Butler. Now the Boilers have one more non-conference game against Vanderbilt left before they open Big Ten play on the road against the Wisconsin Badgers.
Purdue has a really good mix of experience and talented youth on the roster, which means they should be able to weather any graduations next season. The caveat though is early departures due to the NBA Draft. It's impossible to project now, but Caleb Swanigan (Fr.), who's leading the team in minutes, and Isaac Haas (So.) are pro prospects. They're not currently locks for the lottery, but most of the talk surrounding Swanigan throughout his recruitment was that he could be a one and done kind of prospect (though some of these comments were also made about A.J. Hammons, who is now in his fourth year in West Lafayette).
For sure, Purdue will lose A.J. Hammons and Rapheal Davis to graduation. Hammons is averaging 12 points and eight rebounds per game and he's also blocking 2.5 shots per game. He's anchored the interior defense and has become a good offensive threat over the years. Still, Purdue is deep in the frontcourt (Haas and Swanigan). Davis was the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Year last season and is a strong, athletic perimeter defender. Davis sustained a knee injury earlier this year and missed three games, but he's back working himself into the rotation.
With those two major contributors leaving, let's take a look at the rest of the roster.
Kendall Stephens is a junior who has been a solid contributor for three seasons. He'll be the backcourt contributor with the most experience heading into next season. Dakota Mathias, P.J. Thompson and Vince Edwards are all sophomores, who play significant minutes, and should be well versed with the league heading into the 2016-17 season.
The freshman on the roster are an intriguing group. Grant Weatherford is redshirting this year, but he epitomizes a Purdue basketball player. He's tough and aggressive and will be a good defensive player. The redshirt year should help him refine his offensive game and through practice, become acclimated to the Big Ten. Ryan Cline is already showing his talent. He's playing about 12 minutes per game and shooting nearly 40 percent from three (17-for-43).
Painter has a commitment from Carsen Edwards, who's a 4-star recruit according to ESPN. Edwards will slot as a point guard. Thompson, Weatherford and Edwards will compete for minutes in the backcourt next season, though it looks like Thompson should retain the point guard position with Johnny Hill departing after this season. The Boilermakers have also made an offer to Eron Gordon, who's a 3-star recruit. But, other teams are chasing Gordon including Nebraska and Indiana (Eron's older brother Eric played at Indiana, and he's postponed his announcement).
Hammons will graduate this year, but Haas and Swanigan have five years of eligibility between them, if they don't leave early for the draft. Haas and Swanigan are perfect compliments going forward. Haas scores efficiently in the low post, while Swanigan can shoot and attack from the perimeter when he's not anchored down low. Again, impossible to predict what they'll do as it relates to the NBA draft, but both are pro prospects.
Jacquil Taylor is a 6'10" redshirt freshman. He appeared in six games last year for Purdue, but received a medical redshirt. Taylor hasn't played much this year, which is likely due to the depth in the frontcourt. With the talent on the roster, that's a hard rotation to crack, at least for this season. He should be a solid future piece in Purdue's frontcourt.
Purdue has offered Nick Rakocevic, a 6'11" center from Chicago, Illinois, but he's getting a lot of interest from other schools and will wait until the season's over to commit. From the Big Ten, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin have also offered him a scholarship.
Purdue is really good now, so they're not thinking too far beyond this season. Obviously, they're always recruiting, but Painter hopes to make a deep tournament run this season.
How the roster changes next year will be interesting, especially if Swanigan and Haas have NBA decisions. The frontcourt could look very different next season. Even beyond next year, Painter has 14 open offers for four slots in the 2017-2018 season and will hope to leverage this year's success to land another talented class.