In the months leading up to the 2016-’17 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 Isaac Haas of Purdue, who came in at No. 15 in the rankings. Haas has been a key player for the Boilers in the frontcourt the last two seasons, spelling A.J. Hammons at center and adding valuable depth to the lineup. Now with Hammons in the NBA, Haas will take over the starting spot in his junior season.
BTPowerhouse 25 - #15 Isaac Haas
- Eligibility: Junior
- Career Totals: 69 games, 600 points, 268 rebounds, 52 blocks, 25 assists, 8 steals
- 2015-16 Averages: 14.3 min, 9.8 pts, 3.7 reb, 0.8 blk, 0.5 ast, 0.1 stl
- Positional Role: Center
Isaac Haas has had an immediate impact for the Boilermakers since arriving on campus, immediately stealing minutes (and a handful of starts) from A.J. Hammons. Having Haas around with Hammons was a huge benefit for Purdue, with the 7’2” center allowing Hammons to stay fresh and helping alleviate the starter’s issues with getting into foul trouble early.
Now, after a disappointing finish to last season, Purdue will have several key players to replace, but should ultimately be even better in 2016-17. Of course, if the Boilermakers want to take another step forward, Haas will have to take what he’s done in somewhat limited minutes (about 14 per game) and keep that production with increased playing time this winter. Even more so without a true center to back him up.
One of Haas’ biggest strengths his first two years was the value he added by being capable of spelling Hammons. Hammons has had issues with fouls in the past and having Haas not only remedied this, but it kept Hammons fresh down the stretch and provided some friendly competition to push the upperclassman. Now that Hammons is in the NBA, Haas is finally the guy and he’ll have to show he can flourish on what he’s shown his first two seasons.
Like Hammons, Haas can be a complete force inside. He doesn’t get as many blocks as Hammons and he doesn’t have an outside jumper, but he shot 59.4% from the field and can eat up rebounds on both sides of the ball. His free throw shooting also improved considerably last year up to 71.4%, which isn’t a bad number for a 7’2” center.
Haas definitely has the potential to be an anchor down low for the Boilermakers, eating up boards and cleaning up down low with easy shots inside. His size will overshadow pretty much every other opposing center and will help clog the lanes on defense. If Haas can improve his conditioning a bit over these next two seasons, he has the chance to be a serious pain for every opposing Big Ten team.
Areas for Improvement
There would have been more to write here if this was a year ago, with Haas showing some growing pains in his freshman season. While the big man was stealing starts from A.J., his offensive production became sporadic in Big Ten play and it became clear that Matt Painter needed to rely more on Hammons. Last season Haas looked a lot better on offense, improved from the free throw line and managed to cut back on turnovers and fouls.
One thing that Haas will need to keep an eye on is his fouls. The big man has had a hard time drawing fouls on the offensive side of the ball and occasionally gets whistled for fouls defensively that are relatively ticky tacky. With Caleb Swanigan set to play more of a four, that means there isn’t a true center set to back up Haas if he gets into foul trouble early. That means if Haas starts fouling early and often, Painter will likely need to rework his lineup to a smaller set anchored by Swanigan. Haas improved a touch on this last year, but his fouls are still a tad too high and a key area in need of improvement.
Other then that, there are two other areas Haas could improve on. One is his touch on offense, with the 7’2” center occasionally struggling to hit shots he probably should be making. He still shot over 59%, though, so it’s not a huge issue. That being said, his mid-range jumper has been a work in progress these past two seasons.
More notably is how Haas will hold up physically, with the junior now set to see considerably more minutes. That means Haas will likely need to improve his conditioning a bit or the center could end up winded towards the end of games, especially on defense.
It’ll be interesting to see what Haas can do this season. On one hand he’s going to give Purdue a decisive size advantage and will help out considerably on the boards. He’s also a decent interior defender and a relatively accurate shooter when he’s within a few feet of the rim.
The biggest question is how will he handle his increased playing time. Haas isn’t the fastest guy on the court and it’ll be interesting to see how well he holds up if he ends up pushing 30 minutes in games this year. He’s also had some issues with fouls, currently averaging 5.3 personal fouls per 40 minutes. Without a true center to back him up, he won’t have the safety net that A.J. had with Haas these past two seasons.
While Haas might not be as good as A.J., especially since Hammons was a better blocker and had an outside jumper in his arsenal, Haas has all the tools to be an old-school, physically dominating center set to make things difficult for teams with undersized bigs. If he can cut back on fouls and stay fresh throughout the year, he very well should end up being one of the conference’s top big men this season.
'BTPowerhouse 25' Rankings:
- #26-31 - Players That Just Missed The Cut
- #24 - Josh Langford (Michigan State)
- #24 - Kam Williams (Ohio State)
- #23 - Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (Michigan)
- #22 - Jalen Coleman-Lands (Illinois)
- #21 - Keita Bates-Diop (Ohio State)
- #20 - Jae’Sean Tate (Ohio State)
- #19 - James Blackmon (Indiana)
- #18 - Eron Harris (Michigan State)
- #17 - Corey Sanders (Rutgers)
- #16 - Derrick Walton, Jr. (Michigan)
- #15 - Isaac Haas (Purdue)
- #14 - to be continued ...