Well it’s been an eventful spring for Purdue. Not long after the 2019-20 season abruptly ended center Matt Haarms entered the transfer portal (before eventually committing to BYU). Then earlier this week guard Nojel Eastern also entered the transfer portal, committing a day or so later to Michigan. In between Eastern entering the transfer portal and committing to Purdue the Boilermakers head coach Matt Painter did an interview on the Dan Dakich show with some interesting comments on the issue.
Speaking about Haarms and Eastern Painter was definitely candid on the topic.
“I don’t mean to hurt anybody’s feelings because I like the guys who have left my program,” Painter said. “I like both of them. But transfers don’t get drafted pretty much. It’s a very, very small percentage. What I look at more than anything is embrace problems and embrace adversity and fight it. Don’t run from it.”
"These guys are like "Hey, I wanna be a pro." Great, way to go, so you're gonna knock somebody out of the Pacers' rotation? Who? What's their name? They don't get the picture of how good you gotta be and how much work you have to put in."— ISC Purdue (@ISC_PU) May 13, 2020
-Coach Matt Painter
"These guys are like, "Hey I wanna be a pro". I'm like, why don't we be all conference in college first? Why don't we try that out? So you'll get guys that average 4, 6, 9 or 10 pts and say, "Coach I want you to develop me into a pro." Well, why don't you work like a pro?"— ISC Purdue (@ISC_PU) May 13, 2020
"I wasn't running around blaiming Gene Keady because I wasn't any good. I averaged 8 points... I wasn't putting my name in the draft."— ISC Purdue (@ISC_PU) May 13, 2020
-Coach Matt Painter
“No, not at all,” Painter said. “I think when you look at the center position where Matt Haarms was we tried to play Trevion Williams and him together and it did not work. To his defense, he got hurt. He had two concussions. Him leaving... I don’t know how things changed for him. I try to take a step back and look at it from their perspective. Ok how could you better yourself? Are you gonna go play against better competition in the league that you went to? No.
And on Eastern:
“You look at the guards we’ve taken, some guards that not all of them were highly decorated guys in high school that were pretty productive players for us,” Painter said. “Dakota Mathias, Ryan Cline, P.J. Thompson, Carsen Edwards. When you look at the people that have been here when Nojel’s been here and then you take a step back..If you look at them you say, ‘All those guys improved and then you didn’t improve.’ He made a really good jump from his freshman to sophomore year then he took a step back this year. I don’t know what to say there because now you’ve become the outlier.”
The unfortunate reality of the comments made is he’s right and being entirely straightforward but at the same time probably shouldn’t have said what he said. When it came to Matt Haarms he lost out on the starting role to Trevion Williams so if he wants to start next season the move wasn’t a surprise. Nojel Eastern fits into a similar spot as he regressed his junior season and the only thing keeping him in the rotation was his defense. The move to BYU might work out better for Haarms, but it’s hard to see Eastern suddenly finding the jump shot he’d need to reach the next level.
So while Painter is technically right in his comments, looking at just a few sound bites and it’ll be seen more as him dragging his former players for leaving. And when a highly paid coach drags some 20 somethings for going somewhere else to play it’s going to be used against the coach and school in the future (especially when it comes to recruiting).
It should be noted that a number of former Purdue players came out in support of Painter:
He’s the best coach on so many levels. Paint didn’t just come out and say all this, he preached it every single day. He does everything he can to give his guys a chance to be successful and if you don’t want to learn from the best, cool✌ https://t.co/Sf4EGKy0rK— Ryan Cline (@Ryan_Cline13) May 14, 2020
Can’t be scared to compete and fight.— Chris Kramer (@C_K_3) May 12, 2020
Don’t think I disagree with what CMP said, because a lot of what he said was true! And he’s always been a straight forward guy so please don’t go and twist this all up. I have no beef with no one that represents Purdue University! It’s all love and always will be— Vincent M Edwards (@VE_12) May 14, 2020
In all honesty the comments aren’t much of a shock if you’ve heard Painter talk before. The only thing somewhat surprising here is that he made the comments publicly knowing that everyone would see it. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out as there has seen support from some people while others have dragged Painter for what he said.