Heading into tonight’s season opener Purdue announced that two of their freshmen will redshirt this season.
Just prior to the opening game against SIU-Edwardsville, news hit that freshmen Sasha Stefanovic and Aaron Wheeler will redshirt for the current 2017-18 season. The news isn’t a complete surprise, with both players (as well as Eden Ewing) being named as potential redshirt options heading into the season.
Stefanovic is a three-star guard from Crown Point and has a reputation for being a highly skilled shooter. While his ability to hit from outside would be beneficial for a lot of teams, Purdue already has sharpshooters Dakota Mathias and Ryan Cline available. Mix that with guards P.J. Thompson and Carsen Edwards and there would have been limited playing time for Stefanovic, making the redshirt a reasonable decision.
As for Aaron Wheeler, a three-star 6’7” forward, the decision to redshirt also makes sense. Wheeler was likely vying for minutes with JUCO commit Eden Ewing and considering Purdue’s four spot is locked down by Vincent Edwards, playing time for Wheeler would have been limited. It also looks like former walk-on Grady Eifert could see more playing time this season as well, so the decision to redshirt Wheeler does make sense.
If anything, Wheeler redshirting could mean that Painter has confidence that Jacquil Taylor is recovering from his injuries and should be fully healthy at some point in the near future. If Taylor’s injuries became more prominent, like they have in the past, his loss would leave the frontcourt looking thin. If Taylor stays healthy this winter then Wheeler can redshirt and work on developing throughout the season instead.
The only potential downside with Stefanovic and Wheeler redshirting is that with the grad transfer rules, it does mean they’d be able to head elsewhere for their fifth season of eligibility. It’s only worth bringing up because a lot of rotation guys tend to consider heading elsewhere for an increased playing role for their last season, meaning teams don’t necessarily see a huge benefit from sitting guys for a year.
In Purdue’s season opener freshman Nojel Eastern saw the most playing time, recording 8 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds in 21 minutes. Forward/center Matt Haarms added 11 points and 5 rebounds in 18 minutes, while Eden Ewing added 3 points in 3 minutes.
The Boilermakers will host Chicago State on Sunday.