Several days ago, big man Isaac Haas announced that he would be returning to Purdue for the 2017-18 season. Earlier this afternoon, Vincent Edwards also announced that he would be returning for next season. That left star Caleb Swanigan, who was still trying to decide on his future. While some rumors surfaced earlier in the day that he could return as well, things didn’t pan out for Purdue fans:
Never thought I'd be sad to say that I am going to chase my reality in the NBA. Y'all got my love forever. #boilerup— Mamba Forever (@calebswanigan50) May 24, 2017
The news wasn’t a huge surprise all things considered. While Swanigan’s draft stock has hovered back and forth between late first round and early second round, his breakout out sophomore season didn’t leave much room for improvement. While the possibility of being a second round pick and the lack of guaranteed money did increase the possibility of returning to West Lafayette, Swanigan didn’t have much room to improve his stock and could still find himself in the back end of the first round if things pan out.
Swanigan’s 2016-17 season was definitely a memorable one for the big man, seeing the Purdue star earn consensus first team All-American honors, as well as being named the Big Ten Player of the Year. The forward averaged an impressive 18.5 points and 12.5 rebounds per game, while shooting 52.7% from the field and 44.7% from three. He dominated the Big Ten on the boards, proved to be a capable scorer and added an efficient jumper from outside.
The biggest knocks on Swanigan when it comes to the NBA has been the fact that he’s undersized at 6’9” and questions about his athleticism compared to other NBA big men. Considering Swanigan’s improved conditioning from his freshman season, and the fact that he’s unlikely to grow several inches in the next year, it would be hard for Swanigan to improve his draft stock much with another season on campus. Especially considering the fact that he already improved his ability to shoot from outside, an area he needed to improve on from his freshman year.
His decision to depart Purdue for the NBA Draft will definitely hurt Purdue heading forward. While the team will return a roster full of talent that should compete in the Big Ten, the return of Swanigan would have made Purdue a likely favorite for another Big Ten title. As is, Purdue will still be one of the top Big Ten programs in all likelihood, but without Swanigan the team will have to get more out of it’s remaining talent.
As for Swanigan, DraftExpress currently has him projected as the 40th pick in the draft next month. The 6’9” forward will spend the next month trying to impress NBA teams in attempt to work his way into the first round.