Going in to the 2013-2014 season, the Purdue Boilermakers and Matt Painter had been on a downward turn for the previous few years. Removed from the glory days of Robbie Hummel, E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson, Purdue and Matt Painter were looking for the new identity of their team.
They brought in three players in the 2013 recruiting class, including one with some family history within the program and fans were optimistic, as they always are, that things were going to turn around with this group of guys they had.
When looking back at this recruiting class now, however, it seems very clear that this was not the group of guys to turn the program back around. If you were to give this class a letter grade, it would likely be an F in all reality.
The Purdue Boilermakers were coming off a season where they struggled, coming in at 16-18 overall and 8-10 in the conference. This was unfamiliar territory for a team that had been so great for the past four or five years with that core group that I mentioned above.
The team had a bit of a strange makeup going into the 2013-14 season, and it seemed like they had some decent pieces, but nobody to bring it all together. It seemed far fetched, but fans had a bit of hope that one of the three guys in this recruiting class might bring some promise for the years to come.
The class featured a four star and ESPN Top 100 recruit and two other three star recruits, also according to ESPN.
Kendall Stephens (SG, #15 by ESPN)
Kendall Stephens came to Purdue not only with his own expectations of being a four star, top 100 recruit, but also with the expectations of being the son of a former Purdue great, Everette Stephens.
Stephens arrived as a lanky, long pure shooter who proved in his time with the Boilermakers that he was one of the best pure shooters in the conference. It was the other aspects of his game that fans began to get disappointed with. His length should have theoretically translated to him being a good defensive player, which never really came through.
Stephens played 20 minutes per game as a freshman, scoring 8 points per game and shooting 37% from the three point line. As a sophomore, he didn’t show much improvement, going up to 8.7 points and 38% from the three point line.
After a difficult personal year in his junior year and difficulty on the court as well, Stephens decided to leave the program and transfer, eventually heading out west to Nevada.
Basil Smotherman (SF, #33 by ESPN)
Basil Smotherman may have had the most individual promise of anybody in this Purdue class. With great size, strength and athleticism, he could defend multiple positions, make effort plays and create electric plays at the basket.
Unfortunately, his is another story that didn’t work out the way it possibly could have. Smotherman had his best season at Purdue as a freshman, averaging 5 points and 3.8 rebounds in about 19 minutes per game. He shot 58%, but largely because he didn’t attempt many shots outside the paint and he struggled at the free throw line as well.
He saw a decreased role the following year, seeing his minutes fall down to 13 minutes per game and his production dropped accordingly. He redshirted in 2015-2016 and returned this season after dealing with a hand injury. He averaged 12 minutes per game this season, scoring 3.9 points per game.
However, near the midway point of the season on January 29th, Purdue released the news that Smotherman and the team had decided it was in the best interest of both parties to go separate ways, and Smotherman was no longer on the team.
Bryson Scott (SG, #33 by ESPN)
Bryson Scott seemed to be another player that fit the mold of what Purdue basketball had been. Scrappy, strong, Scott was a bulldog type of player. With the strength at his size, he had the potential to be a bit of a Chris Kramer type of player for Purdue.
If you haven’t noticed the pattern, however, Scott was the third of three recruits in this class that did not work out for Purdue. He played about 16 minutes per game as a freshman, putting up decent numbers at 6 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game for a Purdue team that finished in last place in the conference that year.
The following year, Scott saw a decreased role, with his minutes falling to 11 minutes per game and he averaged only 3.8 points per game. 2014-15 would be his last season with the Boilermakers, as he announced he would transfer. After sitting out 2015-16, Scott had a successful season with the IPFW Mastodons this season.
That was probably some pretty rough stuff to read if you’re a fan of the Boilermakers. The 2013 recruiting class was not successful overall for Purdue as a program, but the team has rebounded nicely with a great class in 2014 and the success looks to be continuing.
Don’t let this piece get you down Boiler fans, the program is in a much better place now.