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Purdue Boilermakers Caleb Swanigan Must Make Sophomore Leap

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With the departure of second round NBA draft pick A.J. Hammons, can Swanigan avoid a sophomore slump and turn into Purdue's go-to-guy?

Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

With the NBA Draft officially over, it's time for college teams to focus on the upcoming 2016-17 season.

Like every year in college basketball, we will begin noticing the emergence of countless talented players throughout the country and Purdue's Caleb Swanigan fits in this category.

After head coach Matt Painter's team enjoyed a very successful 2015-16 season going 26-9 and securing a berth in the NCAA Tournament as a fifth seed, there was some brief uncertainty during this off-season.

Swanigan played a major role in this uncertainty when he declared for the draft without hiring an agent to test out the process. Purdue was then left with a gaping hole to fill until he finally decided to withdraw his name from draft consideration and return to school.

After averaging 10.2 points-per-game and 8.3 rebounds as a freshman in the Big Ten you can understand why he tested the NBA waters after putting on numerous performances against tough competition, like his double-double game versus Butler.

He clearly flashed a lot of potential as a freshman, but for most  talented 19-year-old players there's a lot they can continue to improve.

Now this begs the question as to how much better can he actually be?

According to head coach Painter, he believes Swanigan will make a "big jump" and all indications point towards that direction, but for this to happen consistency plays a major role.

Below are the Boilermakers top 2015-16 scorers and how they stacked up against each other:

Player GP MIN PPG RPG APG SPG BPG TPG FG% FT% 3P%
A.J. Hammons 33 24.6 15.0 8.2 1.1 0.3 2.5 2.0 .592 .709 .545
Vince Edwards 35 27.5 11.3 5.4 2.9 0.5 0.3 1.7 .450 .820 .407
Caleb Swanigan 34 25.7 10.2 8.3 1.8 0.4 0.2 2.6 .461 .713 .292

The biggest noticeable difference between Hammons and Swanigan is the field goal percentage, .592 and .461 is a large disparity and before there's an over-exaggeration about his field goal percentage, it's a good average for his youth. This could just be a part of his growing process, but whether it is or not he must improve in this category.

He's a two-way player and has an all-around game to propel him to reach that consistency. He can post up, defend and has the ability to stretch the floor with his jump-shooting ability. Combine all of those attributes with a more consistent shooting percentage and it can potentially propel him to All-American status.

So what does his presence actually mean for Purdue within the college basketball landscape?

Well, this quickly puts them among the Big Ten's elite as well as a more than solidified spot in the top 25 rankings. As a top 10 ESPN 100 recruit coming out of high school, Swanigan knows about lofty expectations because it comes with the territory and adding his freshman season into the equation expectations continue to rise.

Last season he was more or less an under-the-radar freshman with guys like Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram an Jaylen Brown attracting most of the nation's attention. Well in 2016-17 the spotlight will be on him and if Purdue wants to repeat what was accomplished last year, then he must be the catalyst.