At the end of their loss to Kansas in the Sweet Sixteen, and having taken everything into consideration, it seemed to be a done deal that Purdue Boilermaker and Big Ten Player of the Year Caleb Swanigan would call it a career and head to the NBA.
He entered his name in the draft field, but did not immediately sign with an agent, leaving the possibility of returning within the realm of reality. It’s worth noting, however, Roosevelt Barnes, who was Swanigan’s legal guardian, is a sports agent.
As the process went on and we watched the mock drafts place Swanigan all over the place, from the early twenties to the mid-forties, it began to become more of a question mark up to the last few hours.
Now, having announced what was largely expected from the beginning, it leaves the Boilers with a question. Who do they turn to step up as the go-to-guy?
Without a doubt, Swanigan will not be replaced by any one player. However, there are a few very capable candidates to lead this team headed into the 2017-18’ year.
First off, Isaac Haas had some of the most outrageous per 40 minute stats that you’ll ever see, along with being a foul drawing machine. If he can stay out of foul trouble and be in good enough game conditioning to play 25-30 minutes per game, he is too overwhelming for almost any other big man in the country.
While Haas was on the floor, he led the Big Ten in usage rate at 33% while finishing fourth in the conference in percentage of shots taken at 29.2%. For someone as physically dominant as Haas who also shoots 58.7%, that bodes well for the Purdue offense.
Another potential option to have a huge breakout year would be Vincent Edwards. Edwards is a Swiss army knife type of talent who is capable of doing just about anything you could possibly need on the floor. His versatility can be taken from the fact that he’s the only active player in the country to have over 1,000 career points, 500 rebounds, 300 assists while having made 100 or more threes.
While Swanigan was great as a freshman, he exploded on the collegiate level as a sophomore after going through the NBA process, and it’s possible that a similar breakout could happen for one Vincent Edwards.
And then, of course, there’s Carsen Edwards. The dynamic scoring guard who can also play some stifling defense at times. As I wrote in an earlier piece a few weeks ago, if he can become more efficient and find ways to get more shots in the flow of the offense, then look out. He’s wired to score, which is great, but it’ll be much better when it comes with added efficiency that typically accompanies having more experience in an offense and at the collegiate level.
Yes, Caleb Swanigan was dominant. Yes, he was the best player in the conference and arguably the most physically imposing player in the country. However, this Purdue team isn’t dead in the water without him. They aren’t hitting the rebuild button. This program is in very good hands and this piece only mentions three players. Guys like Dakota Matthias, P.J. Thompson and Ryan Cline are all returning as well while also being joined by a good recruiting class.
Purdue should certainly find themselves in preseason Top 25s, perhaps even in the Top 20. Buckle up Boilers, you may be in for another wild ride.