The 2022-’23 ‘BTPowerhouse Season Preview’ series will take an in-depth look at all 14 teams in the Big Ten heading into the 2022-’23 season with analysis on each program’s previous season, offseason departures, new additions, strengths, weakness, top player, and top storylines. Each post will also include predictions on each team’s starting lineup, season performance and commentary from a local “insider” who covers said team.
Purdue spent all of last season ranked inside the top 10 and were a viable contender in both the Big Ten race and National Title race. Now after a mass set of departures, including star Jaden Ivey, Purdue will look to retool on the fly.
Head coach Matt Painter has been here before, consistently regrouping after losing an impressive roster and finding a way to remain competitive. Part of that is his recruiting, often with a focus less on exclusively chasing highly touted players, but rather guys that fit the system more so than anything else. Painter’s ability to continuously recruit players that fit what he’s trying to do, while also seemingly finding every seven foot plus big in the land, has kept Purdue anchored towards the top of the Big Ten throughout most of his tenure in West Lafayette.
Now Painter will look to see if he can bring in a laundry list of fresh faces and underclassmen and find success after featuring one of the conferences most experienced teams last year.
1. 2021-’22 Season Performance
- Record: 29-8 (14-6, 3rd in Big Ten)
- KenPom Team Rating: #14
- NET Rating: #12
- Postseason Appearance: NCAA Tournament Sweet 16
Purdue has more or less been the image of consistency under Matt Painter since he took over in 2005. While not perfect, the Boilermakers haven’t missed an NCAA Tournament since 2014 and outside of a two year stretch from 2012-2014 the Boilermakers have had a winning record in conference play every year except one (9-11) over the past 16 seasons.
In 2020-21 the Boilermakers featured a roster set to rely heavily on freshmen and even with modest at best expectations they ended up trending up to a fourth place finish in the Big Ten and a four seed in the NCAA Tournament. Set to return basically everyone last season expectations were sky high and for the most part Purdue met most of said expectations.
The end result of 2021-22 was relatively impressive for the Boilermakers, with Purdue remaining ranked in the top ten the entire season, earning a three seed in the NCAA Tournament and making it to the Sweet 16. They did fall a bit short on the year, dropping to Iowa in the Big Ten Tournament title game and coming up just short of an appearance in the Elite 8. One of the main reasons for said shortcomings was a typically stout Purdue defense became a liability, with Purdue having to rely on an offense that had an offensive rating of third out of 358 teams.
2. Offseason Exits
- Eric Hunter
- Jaden Ivey
- Sasha Stefanovic
- Isaiah Thompson
- Trevion Williams
- Jared Wulbrun
There are a lot of losses heading into the upcoming season, most of which weren’t a huge surprise. Purdue’s trio of seniors in Trevion Williams, Sasha Stefanovic and Eric Hunter had all previously told Painter that they would not be using their extra season of eligibility well before the season ended. As for Jaden Ivey, his departure made sense as the guard ended up a lottery pick by the Detroit Pistons. The only potential surprising departure was Isaiah Thompson, though limited playing time in the future likely influenced said decision.
Jaden Ivey is a massive loss, with the guard being one of the most explosive playmakers in the nation. The only potential benefit without Ivey is Purdue might play a little less carefree offensively, with Ivey occasionally having issues with turnovers and forcing shots.
The loss of Trevion Williams will also cause some issues for Purdue, even if they retain Zach Edey. One of the biggest benefits of having Williams on the roster is it gave Purdue two All-Big Ten caliber centers that could fill out an entire 40 minutes. It limited worrying about their bigs getting into foul trouble, potential conditioning issues and allowed Painter to go with the hot hand. Williams occasionally got a little too creative and loose with the ball, but he was an impressive passer that could offensively take over a game.
Rounding out the losses are sharpshooter Sasha Stefanovic and two experienced options in the backcourt in Eric Hunter and Isaiah Thompson. Neither of the latter fully pieced things together, but both had their moments and the experience in the backcourt would have been huge for a Purdue team looking considerably younger this season.
3. New Additions
- 4-star guard Fletcher Loyer
- 3-star guard Braden Smith
- 4-star forward Camden Heide
- Unranked center William Berg
- Transfer guard David Jenkins Jr. (Utah)
- Walk-on forward Sam King
The Boilermakers picked up the 29th best recruiting class in 2022, per 247Sports. Highlighting the class is four star guard Fletcher Loyer, who averaged 26.9 points per game and was Indiana’s Gatorade Player of the Year. Loyer also won the national three point title in New Orleans during the Final Four, bringing some much needed shooting to the backcourt.
Three-star guard Braden Smith, the second straight Indiana Mr. Basketball to commit to Purdue (following Caleb Furst), averaged 18.3 points last season and hit 281 threes at the high school level, helping round out a young backcourt that should have some capable shooters. Also joining the mix is David Jenkins Jr., a senior transfer that has a career average of 14.9 points per game and has hit 41.3% of his threes over four seasons of playtime.
Rounding out the recruiting class is four-star forward Camden Heide and unranked center William Berg. Heide is a 6’6” wing that also held offers from a wide variety of Big Ten schools including Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Ohio State. Berg is set to redshirt this year with Painter eyeing Berg as a key piece in the future. Purdue’s run of bigs continues with the Swedish product measuring in at 7’2”.
Trey Kaufman-Renn will also debut this season after redshirting last year. The 6’9” freshman should see plenty of minutes in the frontcourt this year for the Boilermakers.
4. Points of Optimism
Purdue’s continued success under Matt Painter allows for fans to give him the benefit of the doubt that they’ll be able to replace a mass exodus of talent and be competitive once again this season. Of course having one of the leagues best big men is helpful, with plenty of eyes waiting to see how Edey will perform as his role expands once again in his third season with the Boilermakers.
While the team will be considerably younger and it might take a minute to piece together some chemistry, Painter reloaded with some talented young guards in the backcourt that will provide some perimeter shooting and likely keep Purdue rolling offensively. The team doesn’t have a bona fide playmaker like Jaden Ivey and that is an area they need to figure out, but there are plenty of options on offense this season.
The last time Purdue was this young was two years ago and that Purdue team pieced together a four seed in the NCAA Tournament while also finishing fourth in the Big Ten. The Big Ten is a bit relaxed this year compared to the gauntlet that was last year and there’ll be plenty of opportunities for Purdue, especially with a relatively favorable conference schedule with single plays against Wisconsin and Illinois.
5. Points of Concern
There are three main areas of concern heading into the season for Purdue fans.
The first is finding who will run the offense without Jaden Ivey. Ivey wasn’t technically the starting point guard, but he routinely had the ball in his hand. He was a playmaker that could create his shot anywhere on the court and that explosiveness isn’t going to get replaced this season. Who will the offense run through now instead? Even if Zach Edey continues to excel the offense can’t exclusively rely on feeding a big that doesn’t produce much away from the rim.
A quick glance at the roster implies Purdue could be a team relying heavily on a perimeter attack with plenty of Edey mixed inside. But what if the threes don’t drop? Will Purdue find players capable of creating their own shot? Or will the Boilermakers live and die by the three? Painter will need more consistency from guys like Brandon Newman and Mason Gillis while hoping last years freshman (Caleb Furst, Trey Kaufman-Renn) can make that jump.
Even if the offense comes together nicely the Boilermakers will be relying on a mix of freshman and fresh faces (Kaufman-Renn is in his second year, but redshirted last year and did not play. Jenkins is a senior, but in his first year with Purdue). Will the young guys like Loyer and Smith hit the ground running or struggle out of the gate? One of the keys to just how good Purdue will be is how the freshmen perform. If the 2022 recruiting class stalls out of the gate Purdue could trend downwards.
And the last thing to keep an eye on is the defensive side of the ball. Matt Painter had one of the best offenses he’s ever had as a head coach, but he also had one of his worst defensive units. Purdue’s offense should be fine, but it won’t be as good as it was last year and likely won’t be able to bail the team out as often as it did last year. If Painter can’t shore up the defense Purdue could struggle quite a bit this year. With a team set to rely on plenty of underclassmen there’s no guarantee the Boilers will piece it together this winter defensively, either.
6. Top Player
As a sophomore Zach Edey supplemented Trevion Williams as the starting center for Purdue, though he still averaged just 19 minutes per game. Even though he averaged less than 20 minutes per game the 7’4” big averaged 14.4 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. That was a nice increase from 8.7 points and 4.4 rebounds per game in around 15 minutes per outing his freshman season, with his rebound rate also rising. Interestingly enough Edey doesn’t seem to get as many blocks as you’d think for someone of his size, but he still averaged 1.2 per game.
Now without Trevion Williams to spell him, that 19 minutes will likely inch closer to 25 minutes per game. Conditioning issues will likely keep him from playing that much more on most nights, but if Edey can continue to produce at a similar rate he should get even more attention in his third year. Edey’s size allows him to effortlessly close at the rim, a big reason why he shot 64.8% from the field, though Purdue could benefit if his offensive game could improve away from the rim. At times he’s a bit clunky with the ball and any hesitation going up to the rim tends to lead to potential turnovers.
While there’s some areas for improvement, and Edey doesn’t always fare well with bigs that are more athletic and can spread the court, he’s still one of the top centers in the conference and easily one of the best traditional big men in the nation.
7. 2022-’23 Schedule Breakdown
- 11/2 - Truman State (Exhibition Game) 102-57 W
- 11/8 - Milwaukee
- 11/11 - Austin Peay
- 11/15 - Marquette (Gavitt Games)
- 11/24 - West Virginia (Phil Knight Legacy - Portland)
- 11/25 - Gonzaga / Portland State (Phil Knight Legacy - Portland)
- 11/27 - TBA (Phil Knight Legacy - Portland)
- 11/30 - at Florida State (ACC / Big Ten Challenge)
- 12/4 - Minnesota
- 12/7 - Hofstra
- 12/10 - at Nebraska
- 12/17 - Davidson (Indy Classic - Indianapolis)
- 12/21 - New Orleans
- 12/29 - Florida A&M
- 1/2 - Rutgers
- 1/5 - at Ohio State
- 1/8 - Penn State
- 1/13 - Nebraska
- 1/16 - at Michigan State
- 1/19 - at Minnesota
- 1/22 - Maryland
- 1/26 - at Michigan
- 1/29 - Michigan State
- 2/1 - Penn State
- 2/4 - at Indiana
- 2/9 - Iowa
- 2/12 - at Northwestern
- 2/16 - at Maryland
- 2/19 - Ohio State
- 2/25 - Indiana
- 3/2 - at Wisconsin
- 3/5 - Illinois
Purdue has traditionally scheduled up in the non-conference slate and that’s once again the case this season. That means while they won’t have a perfect record, Painter should have his guys prepared for a slugfest in the winter once conference play fully tips off.
Early on the Boilermakers have a pair of winnable games that could prove to be quality wins down the line. First is a home game against Marquette in the Gavitt Games, with Marquette making it to the NCAA Tournament last year but still more or less a so-so power conference program. West Virginia missed the NCAA Tournament last year and aren’t bad but haven’t been at the same level as Bob Huggins once had the program. Both teams currently are sitting in the 70s in the current KenPom Ratings.
Purdue’s game against West Virginia is in the opening round of the Phil Knight Legacy, with a win likely leading Purdue to square off against Gonzaga, followed by a third game against either Duke, Florida, Xavier or Oregon State. It’s likely set to be a rough several days for all teams involved.
The rest of the Boilermakers non-conference slate includes a winnable game at Florida State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge before facing off against Davidson in the Indy Classic, replacing the spot where Purdue would have played in the Crossroads Classic against either Notre Dame or Butler in the past.
One of the more favorable draws for Purdue is their start to conference play, with the December slate including a highly inexperienced Minnesota team and a road trip to Nebraska. With home games against Rutgers, Penn State and Nebraska making up three of the first four Big Ten games in January, Purdue should be able to quickly rack up some wins even with an inexperienced roster.
The back end of January features one of the tougher stretches of conference play, with a five game run that includes two games against Michigan State and a road trip to Michigan. The close of the season with Indiana, Wisconsin (on the road) and Illinois isn’t ideal, either, though Purdue will benefit from only having to play Wisconsin and Illinois just once this season.
8. Projected Starting Lineup
- G: Braden Smith
- G: Fletcher Loyer
- F: Ethan Morton
- F: Mason Gillis
- C: Zach Edey
The one sure thing heading into the season is that Zach Edey will anchor the roster at the five spot. Past that it’s more or less anyone’s guess.
In the teams recent “secret” scrimmage against Cincinnati and the following exhibition against Truman State the Boilermakers started the above starting five. The lineup provides an interesting mix of youth and experience, with Purdue looking to immediately rely on freshmen Loyer and Smith in the backcourt from the get go. Mason Gillis can play almost all over the court and has shown flashes, as well as the ability to hit from three, and Purdue will hope he can continues to develop and create his own shots. Ethan Morton hasn’t done that much so far but should see a considerably expanded role this season.
Purdue has plenty of depth and a few key pieces that should see plenty of minutes even if they aren’t starting. One of those guys is Caleb Furst, a 6’10” forward that averaged 4.1 points and 3.2 rebounds per game while hitting 42.3% from three. He started occasionally last season and if he can breakout in his sophomore season he should find his way in the starting lineup once again this year. Redshirt freshman Trey Kaufman-Renn, a 6’9” forward that sat out last year, will finally see the court and should solidify a solid frontcourt.
Brandon Newman almost looked like a lock to transfer out after the season before regaining a spot in the rotation in the Big Ten Tournament. He has the physical skills and talents to find minutes and create opportunities for Purdue, he just needs to be a more consistent player to keep earning minutes. Another option in the backcourt is much traveled grad transfer David Jenkins Jr., who will likely be a perimeter threat for the Boilermakers.
9. Realistic Team Goals
The bare minimum for Purdue under Matt Painter on any given year is being competitive in the Big Ten and making it to the NCAA Tournament. That goal once again will remain even with expectations lowering from last seasons success.
You can go into relative detail as why Purdue will regress in 2022-23 and you probably wouldn’t be wrong, but the talent on hand and the coaching staff in West Lafayette should be enough to expect Purdue to compete towards the top of the Big Ten and have a legitimate shot at another Sweet 16 appearance.
Realistically Purdue will want to develop their underclassmen and set the foundation for future seasons while taking advantage of having a talent like Edey and remaining relevant in the Big Ten title race.
10. Overall Season Outlook
Purdue is decisively younger this year and has more questions heading into this season then they did last year. That doesn’t mean Purdue will miss the postseason or become irrelevant in the Big Ten, but it does mean fans should expect a considerably more inconsistent product this season.
As long as Purdue’s freshmen don’t bomb this year and Painter can turn the defense around, Purdue is perfectly capable of remaining in the competition for a Big Ten title. The ceiling might be a bit lower this year as most people aren’t eyeing Purdue as a potential Final Four team, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be an offensively-minded team worth keeping an eye on throughout the year. Even more so as their 2022 recruiting class gains more experience heading down the stretch.