Over the last several seasons the Boilermakers have became quite familiar with transfers thanks to an increase in roster turnover. Thanks to a variety of reasons, including lack of playing time and players butting heads with Matt Painter, the Boilers have seen a laundry list of players depart prematurely. The increase in transfers out of the program, mixed with a number of recruiting misses, has left Purdue's roster a tad thin and even led to several walk-ons earning single season scholarships that were left available.
In order to address the open scholarships and lack of depth, Painter started to come around to the idea of targeting senior transfers, an idea he originally disagreed with.
"I think the NCAA needs to change the rule on the guy graduating getting to go somewhere. Cause they put that in as an academic rule and its yet to be used for one, it’s strictly a basketball one. That is free agency. But with that being said I don’t wanna be a hypocrite...I don’t make a big deal about it, we’ve tried to take transfers," mentioned Painter previously.
Purdue utilized a pair of senior transfers in 2013-14 as a way to tackle some depth issues, adding guard Sterling Carter and forward Errick Peck. While the results didn't set the world on fire, both players filled a need for the Boilermakers and were utilized as key rotational players for the team. Even better was Sterling Carter, who helped spark a rout of Indiana and was taking a leadership role within the team before succumbing to a season ending knee injury.
After the 2013-14 season the Boilermakers saw another transfer once again, with point guard Ronnie Johnson departing the program. With Purdue losing their starting point guard, the team offered a late scholarship to three-star recruit P.J. Thompson and were able to add to their recruiting class, pairing Thompson with combo guard Bryson Scott. Of course Scott had struggled at the point in his freshman season and Thompson would be an inexperienced newcomer, leaving Purdue thin at the point guard position.
Luckily for the team, though, Colorado State transfer Jon Octeus didn't qualify for UCLA and joined the Purdue program in October right before the season began. While fans didn't know quite what to expect, especially due to the late commitment by Octeus, he was a senior point guard that had the skills to start, allow Thompson to develop, and Scott to play off the ball. It didn't take long for Octeus to flourish, either, having arguably his best season of his career in West Lafayette. Besides filling a major void on offense, Octeus quickly rose to the top and became a team leader that helped Purdue turn things around in the winter and launched the team back into the NCAA Tournament. Without Jon Octeus' presence on offense and defense, or his improvement at the point compared to Ronnie Johnson the last two seasons, Purdue would have missed the postseason all together. Instead the program has seemingly returned to form and has an optimistic outlook for 2015-16.
Of course roster turnover once again struck the Boilers in the off-season, resulting in combo guard Bryson Scott departing due to differences in how he was being utilized and how he wanted to play for the team. The end result is Purdue is once again thin at the point, with Thompson once again looking to be thrown into the starting role, though the team does add a pair of three-star guards in Grant Weatherford and Ryan Cline. Also, the team can likely once again use guys like Rapheal Davis and Vince Edwards to bring the ball up the court from time to time if push come to shove.
However, Purdue needs an experienced option at point guard. The reality is Purdue is a good Big Ten team with or without, but someone at the level of Jon Octeus would lift Purdue from the middle of the pack and help them contend for a Big Ten title. Taking that into consideration, it's no surprise that Painter and company are once again on the recruiting trails trying to land a senior guard.
Unfortunately the team has yet to find their Jon Octeus 2.0, missing out on the teams best bet in Dylan Ennis. And while a list of players have expressed interest in Purdue, none have pulled the trigger as the Boilers continue to struggle with recruiting. As of right now, unless we see a late transfer like we did with Octeus, the best bet seems to be UT-Arlington transfer Johnny Hill. Hill, who is also considering the Illini, is from the midwest and has spent time at both Illinois State and Texas-Arlington. The thought process is that the senior would add some depth and help shore up the point guard position, though I have my doubts as to if Hill would be a good fit.
While he has spent two seasons as a starter (at two different schools), Hill wasn't exactly an efficient point guard down in Texas. While starting for UT-Arlington last season the senior was averaging almost as many turnovers as he was assists, with his 3.1 turnovers per game not exactly a promising look. His issues with turnovers peaked in late January when the guard committed a whopping 11 turnovers against Georgia State. Hill also wasn't a great perimeter option, shooting only 25% from deep on 2.3 attempts per game. The end result was he was a turnover prone point guard without an outside shot that scored most of his points inside or at the line...sound familiar?
I have my doubts pertaining to Hill, but the reality is Painter will only bring him in if he thinks he'll be a good fit for the program. "Going out to get someone who can play the point guard position, sure that's great, but they've got to be our type of guy...I'd rather sign nobody than sign somebody who comes in here and is a really good point guard but doesn't fit with us" stated Painter.
It'll be interesting to see if Purdue can land a point guard for next season, with an experienced guard being the one piece to the puzzle keeping Purdue from likely contending for a conference title next season. While fans are hoping Painter can work some magic, the reality is the chances of bringing in an outside option are likely fading. Even more so if the fan base is hoping for the second coming of Jon Octeus next fall.