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Purdue Coach Matt Painter Sounds Off On Recent Transfers

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NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

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.”

On Haarms:

“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:

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.