Purdue added a fourth commit to their 2017 recruiting class with the addition of Illinois shooting guard Nojel Eastern, who announced his commitment on the last day of the NCAA’s early signing period. .
The four-star guard is ranked by Rivals as the 75th best prospect in the 2017 recruiting class and will add some much needed depth to the backcourt. Eastern joins a recruiting class that includes center Matt Haarms, forward Aaron Wheeler and JUCO wing Eden Ewing.
“I feel the system and the style of play fits me extremely well,” said Eastern. “It’s a great school, I loved it down there.”
Eastern is set to join a backcourt in 2017 that will include guards P.J. Thompson, Carsen Edwards, Dakota Mathias and Ryan Cline. That being said, Mathias and Cline are more three point specialists and Thompson and Mathias will both be seniors so the Boilermakers needed to add a guard. That’s especially true as their 2017 class was void of guards and the departure of Spike Albrecht after this season will thin out the backcourt.
Purdue being able to land the 6’5” guard was also a big recruiting win as he had received offers from a number of major programs, including Iowa State, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio State. Heading into today it was expected that Eastern was deciding between Michigan State and Purdue, with the belief that he was leaning towards the Spartans.
While Eastern’s size will also allow him to play the wing, the Boilermakers plan on utilizing him more as a point guard.
“He said he’ll use me as a point guard, of course, but a guard that can do multiple things...not just holding me back to bringing the ball up,” mentioned Eastern.
Eastern is an aggressive player with the ball in his hands. He can attack the rim better than most players in his class. He also has the ability to get open and create plays for himself and his teammates. As a defender, his footwork allows him to guard multiple positions. The 6’5” wing can guard the both guard spots as well as the wing. His perimeter defense stands out and he seems to make shooters uncomfortable with his relentless style of play.
There has been no shortage of coaching received by Eastern. Aside from his time spent at Evanson Township High School, Eastern has also spent time with the national junior team. After making the team in 2015 he was named as one of the 18 finalist for the 2016 USA Basketball Men’s U17 World Championship roster before falling just short of making the final cut. Eastern also made an appearance on the Nike EYBL circuit where he averaged 9.1 points and five rebounds per game as a member of the MeanStreets.
The Illinois native is a solid pick-up for the Boilermakers, bringing plenty of length and versatility to the backcourt. If Eastern can add some consistency to his jumper he could blossom into an extremely capable guard for Purdue in the near future.