In the months leading up to the 2015-16 college basketball season, BTPowerhouse will be releasing a new series called the 'BTPowerhouse 25,' which features the Top 25 players in the Big Ten as voted by members of the staff. All players set to be on Big Ten rosters for next season were eligible during the staff vote with their top selection receiving 25 points and their 25th and final selection receiving 1 point.
Today's edition will take a brief look at Caleb Swanigan of Purdue, who came in at #19 in the rankings. Swanigan was originally a Michigan State commit, but reopened his recruitment late and ended up making the somewhat unexpected switch over to Purdue this past spring. The addition of Swanigan, joining a loaded Boilermaker frontcourt, has Purdue fans hoping to build off of last season's return to the NCAA Tournament.
'BTP 25' - #19 Caleb Swanigan
- Eligibility: Freshman
- Career Totals: N/A
- 2014-15 Averages: N/A
- Positional Role: Power Forward / Center
The Fort Wayne native was a major target for Purdue for quite awhile when Swanigan decided to verbally commit to Michigan State. At the time it seemed like another recruiting miss for Matt Painter, who has struggled at times when going up against other marquee Big Ten programs (especially Michigan State). Then the weirdest thing happened and Swanigan decommitted from the Spartans, suddenly becoming a possibility for Purdue once again. Rumors initially tied him to Purdue before also pushing the idea of him going to California and possibly even Kentucky. When everything was said and done Swanigan ended up deciding on Purdue, with reports mentioning that part of the reason he came to West Lafayette was the fact that he could play at the four instead of center, as Purdue already has senior A.J. Hammons and sophomore Isaac Haas.
The news of Swanigan joining Purdue in 2015 was definitely a welcoming piece of news for Boilermaker fans as Purdue is coming off of a postseason appearance (first NCAA Tournament appearance in three years). Now Purdue has one of the most talented frontcourts in the conference and a ton of experience at almost every position on the court, leading many people to think Purdue is likely set to be a major contender in the Big Ten this upcoming season.
There's a reason why Swanigan was a five-star recruit and considered one of the best prospects in the 2015 recruiting class. His ability to get the ball inside and attack the rim adds another valuable weapon to Purdue's arsenal, even more so with Hammons. Last season it was well known that Purdue had a major height advantage over most opponents, an advantage now set to become even bigger with Caleb joining the team. Besides being capable of scoring inside and moving pretty well for his size, Swanigan is also known to clean up on the glass and is a solid defender as well. While it'll be interesting to see if he draws more traditional power forwards or is forced to cover more athletic wings, his ability as a defender should be an asset inside for the Boilers.
Areas for Improvement
One area of improvement that Swanigan has already taken on recently was improving his physical conditioning. Swanigan, who was a tad overweight earlier in his high school career, has been looking great this summer and is in the best condition he's been in. With that potential pitfall seeming to now be irrelevant, the biggest area for improvement for Swanigan is his ability to develop his jump shot. Throughout his high school tenure he's been known more for his presence inside, but Purdue already will have Hammons and Haas down low. If Swanigan starts alongside either center, it should be noted that Purdue's projected point guard (Johnny Hill) isn't a great outside shooter, with guard Rapheal Davis not really having an outside shot until later on last season. That means Purdue will need to improve from outside or opponents can clog the lanes, meaning there's going to be a heavy emphasis for Swanigan to improve from outside. Especially with 6'7" Vince Edwards, a forward capable of playing pretty much anywhere on the court, likely losing minutes due to Swanigan's arrival.
A lot of schools recruited Swanigan with the intention of him likely anchoring the team down low at the five. Considering Swanigan wanted to play power forward, Purdue's set of starting centers (Hammons, Haas) will allow him to play his preferred position. Now the Boilermakers will bring forth a deadly frontcourt with Swanigan set to join Hammons as the teams starters inside, giving Purdue a serious height advantage and the ability to do some legitimate damage inside. There's talk of Swanigan possibly being a one-and-done and if he lives up to his potential, he should definitely be one of the conference's top freshmen this season. If Purdue can build from last season the idea of Swanigan being a second or third team All-Big Ten player is realistic, though he is likely to be overshadowed a bit by Hammons in his final season at Purdue.