As we approach summer, things are starting to shape up nicely for Purdue. While we still don't know the fates of Caleb Swanigan and Vince Edwards, the Boilermakers added a key piece to their backcourt with the addition of Michigan grad transfer Spike Albrecht. Matt Painter is also still on the recruiting trail, with two other transfers still considering Purdue, though they would have to sit out next season.
Anyway, let's take a look at what has been going around West Lafayette as of late.
Spike Albrecht A Valuable Addition
The former Wolverines made it official and committed to Purdue this week, joining a growing list of graduate transfers that have helped solidify the Purdue backcourt. That trend started several seasons back when Matt Painter brought in Sterling Carter from Seattle University, followed by Jon Octeus and then Johnny Hill this past season. The move is a big one, especially with the departure of redshirt freshman Grant Weatherford (and Hill graduating). While the Boilermakers are high on incoming freshman Carsen Edwards, he'll be inexperienced at the collegiate level and would have had to learn things in a hurry for Purdue.
Of course P.J. Thompson has performed decently the past two seasons, definitely showing improvement this past season, but there's some clear limitations to his game. At the very least, the addition of Albrecht will bring some senior leadership and add some much needed experience and depth in the backcourt. Another key benefit to adding the former Wolverine is he could help Purdue in critical end of game scenarios, with Purdue commonly struggling with the press in the closing moments of games this past season. Albrecht should be a huge improvement here as he's only committed 73 turnovers over 1927 minutes, or one turnover every 26 plus minutes. He also has hit on 84.8% of his free throws throughout his career, making him a strong asset in close game situations.
The biggest question is if Albrecht is completely healthy, as a medley of health issues led to his redshirt last season and his eventual departure from Michigan. There's a reasonable chance that if he's fully recovered by November, he could actually end up starting for Purdue at some point this season. While he isn't known to be the most prominent offensive player, Purdue's other option to start at point is P.J. Thompson, who has also been limited offensively in his first two seasons. If Albrecht can hit the ground running at Purdue, limit turnovers and find his three pointer again, he could be a huge addition for the Boilermakers. At the very least he should bring leadership to the table, allow Painter to ease Edwards into the rotation and improve the depth in the backcourt.
Two Boilermakers Earn NBA Combine Invites
With the NBA Combine just around the corner, the invite list recently went out the other day with 64 invites made (as well as 13 alternatives). The Boilermakers will see two players participate in the event this year, with A.J. Hammons and Caleb Swanigan both picking up invites:
The NBA sent out invites to about 70 players over the weekend for the NBA combine. I have compiled a list of 64: pic.twitter.com/ZQas9DA6XT— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) May 2, 2016
It was assumed Hammons would get an invite to the combine, though it wasn't guaranteed that Swanigan would also be invited (though the fact that Swanigan was invited isn't much of a surprise). The most notable tidbit here is that Swanigan will be participating in the combine, which could lead to the power forward to (officially) declare for the draft before the end of the month. As mentioned in my last Purdue article, Swanigan has said he will remain at college if need be, but if teams think he's ready then he'll head to the NBA. Part of me feels like that means if he's looking like a first rounder he's for sure gone, but if he's projected to go in the second round he may very well return.
For what it's worth, he has also cancelled some NBA workouts per Gold and Black, though a strong performance at the combine could lead to him departing. Draft Express recently posted an updated top 100 prospects list on Thursday and ranked Swanigan at 66th, indicating he's likely viewed as either a second round pick or possibly an undrafted free agent. Considering the lack of guaranteed money there and the ability to improve at the collegiate level, if Swanigan's stock doesn't improve there's a solid chance he will return to West Lafayette for another season.
The other Boiler to declare for the draft early was Vince Edwards, who is further behind Swanigan on most prospect lists and wasn't invited to the combine. It's highly unlikely right now that Edwards would get drafted so it's hard to imagine him not returning next season, with the forward most likely utilizing this process to better position himself for a professional career later on. While Edwards won't be participating at the combine, he is currently set to work out for the Celtics today, is talking to the Grizzlies and worked out earlier in the week for the Timberwolves.
While the Boilermakers recently added Spike Albrecht to their roster, Matt Painter might not be done adding transfers to the depth chart. One of these potential targets includes UNLV transfer Jordan Cornish.
UNLV transfer Jordan Cornish told @CBSSports he has cut his list to Butler, Iowa State, Grand Canyon, and Purdue. Will set visits soon.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) May 4, 2016
Cornish, a three-star guard originally out of high school, has spent his first two seasons out west with UNLV where he has averaged 5.8 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 19 minutes per game. Since Cornish would be a junior next season, he would have to sit out in 2016-17 if he transfers to Purdue.
Another potential transfer is Virginia Tech guard Jalen Hudson, who plans to visit Purdue in the near future. Hudson averaged 8.4 points, 2.3 rebounds and 0.6 assists in 20 minutes per game last season for the Hokies. Like Cornish, he's only coming off of his sophomore season so the 6'5" guard would have to sit out next season before having two years of eligibility remaining.
Purdue vs. Villanova Date Set
While we already knew that the Boilermakers would square off against Villanova in the Gavitt Games, we now know what date said game will take place. The series, which will run from the 14th of November through the 18th, will see Purdue and Villanova kick off the 2016 games on November 14th. Considering that's a Monday, it will likely be the Boilermakers second game of the season.
The game will be a rarity for the Boilermakers, as it will only be the second time they've hosted the defending (non-conference) national champion at Mackey Arena:
Either way, the spotlight will be on Purdue early in 2016-17 and a win at home could be the perfect way to jump start the season and earn plenty of attention heading forward.