It has been a busy off-season for Matt Painter and his assistants. They have been hopping up and down the AAU trail evaluating 2016 prospects at the Adidas Gauntlet, Nike EYBL, and Under Armour spring sessions. In between, Purdue has made a couple of transfer deals. Bryson Scott transferred out and Johnny Hill transferred in. And Caleb Swanigan de-commited from Michigan State and could be in play for Purdue. In all, the Boilermakers have offered 27 kids and counting.
One prospect high on their list is 6-4 shooting guard Jarron Cumberland from Wilmington (OH). He recently jumped from Ohio Basketball Club (Adidas Gauntlet) to King James (Nike EYBL). He splashed onto the scene at the Lexington Preview two weeks ago with 25 points against Georgia Stars and 23 points against All-Ohio Red. The following weekend he scored 27 points in a pool match-up at the Spiece Run N' Slam event in Fort Wayne (IN).
The catch is, wherever Cumberland goes, point guard Xavier Simpson goes. At least both players have a mutual interest in Purdue. That's according to their AAU coach Quincy Simpson:
"We're definitely happy to have Cumberland with us. He fits well. I would love to see him and X [Xavier] go together. They are playing well together. They have a lot of the same schools recruiting them...The style that Purdue plays, they have great coaching. They get up and down and have some freedom. We're high on Purdue."
This past weekend at the Nike EYBL in Houston, King James recorded a 3-1 record to improve to 8-4 overall. Cumberland answered the call, stuffing the stat sheets with spectacular play. He recorded 15 points, five rebounds, and four assists in the first game; 23 points, five rebounds, and two steals in Saturday's morning session; 12 points, six assists, five rebounds, and two steals in the afternoon session; and concluded Sunday with 24 points, four rebounds, and three steals.
The 17-year-old man-child is ranked No. 78 nationally, No. 13 at his shooting guard position, and No. 7 in Ohio, according to 247 Sports data base. Eleven schools are interested, including Michigan, Indiana, Ohio State, and West Virginia. He has received four offers from Purdue, Xavier, Cincinnati, and Florida State.
His junior season for Wilmington, he averaged 24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 3.3 assists. The Hurricane finished the season with a 24-2 record.
Check out the recent video on Cumberland. Very versatile. He does a little bit of everything, except sell popcorn.
Perhaps the best scorer in Ohio, this 4-Star can go inside and out with an array of shot-making. He is deadly from 10-15 feet, but isn't shy to let it fly from three-point range. He is a tough, physical kid who is not afraid to bang with the big boys. He defends well and coach Simpson says, "He's very coachable."
Lacking experienced depth at the guard positions, Purdue would be a nice fit for Cumberland. P.J. Thompson was steady, but only played 13 minutes a game. Dakota Mathias was too inconsistent and streaky. One of the guard positions is solidified in junior Kendall Stephens, who averaged 9.0 points and 22 minutes per game. The only shooting guard listed on the team is incoming freshman Ryan Cline.
A lot of ifs, but imagine a starting lineup in 2017 of 6-9 Swanigan, 6-4 Cumberland, 7-2 Isaac Haas, 6-6 Stephens, and 6-1 Simpson. Purdue would be a serious Big Ten contender and Top 25 team.
Cumberland plans to make his decision in November. Simpson plans to make his decision in July. It appears that if Simpson picks Purdue in July, then Painter can count on Cumberland in November or sooner. However, if Simpson chooses Xavier, then Painter might need to look elsewhere on his shopping list of 27 prospects. These package deals are getting to be ridiculous.
The good news for Painter is that he will have at least four scholarships available in 2016, maybe five, if Swanigan commits and then leaves after his freshman season. What a headache.
Regardless of all the recruiting ramifications involving Jarron Cumberland, this youngster is physically put together and is eager to find a school where he can cement his name.
[Editor's Note: There was a mistaken listing for the Purdue's roster in an earlier version of the article, which has been subsequently corrected.]