Coach Matt Painter and the Paint Crew are going to have another young team to cheer on this year.
Purdue Basketball continues to play younger and younger. This is what the potential starting five could look like on opening night for the Boilermakers in November.
Point Guard: PJ Thompson, 5-11 freshman
With both Terone and Ronnie Johnson leaving the team this past season, Terone due to graduation and Ronnie due to transfer, the Boilermakers need a new point guard to lead the team. Thompson shows similar characteristics as former guard Lewis Jackson who also started as a freshman.
PJ is extremely quick off the dribble. He carries the ability to make defenders over pursue and make the pay. He also has a knack for finding the open man all over the court.
His shooting ability ranges all off the chart. Despite being under six foot he will drive to the basket without fear and make an effort to score. Thompson is a strong shooter outside the circle. He is prolific at the catch and shoot method.
With his passing and scoring ability, and the lack of depth at the point guard position, Thompson looks to be the front runner to lead the Boilermakers at season’s start.
Shooting Guard: Kendall Stephens, 6-6 sophomore
Stephens, who started multiple games for the Boilers in the past year, showed a lot of promise on the court.
He is the Boilers’ deep threat specialist, making 64 three point field goals last season.
Defensively, he has a tall and long body which works to his advantage. He can play on the low block and get his hand on a few shots and handles himself well in the paint.
The defensive side of the ball can be his weak spot, but with his scoring ability it’s difficult not to put him on the court to start the season.
Stephens does bring experience to the floor having played in every game last year. He works hard and knows how to play Painter’s style of play.
Three Guard: Rapheal Davis, 6-5 junior
Davis brought a lot of energy off the bench last year and Matt Painter took a liking to him. He plays big and can guard both outside the arc and down low on the block. With limited time on the floor he made an impact defensively acquiring 16 steals.
During the end of last season he started to bring scoring into his repertoire. He led the team in points in multiple games, including 18 against ranked Iowa.
Davis brings a lot of hustle and determination to the court and Painter cannot miss that. That’s why he will be in the starting five to start the year.
Forward: Vince Edwards, 6-7 freshman
As a freshman Edwards brings a large defensive presence that will work well with AJ Hammons. He is a block machine and will make it difficult on opponents once they make it down low on the block.
Offensively, Edwards has a solid display of post moves he can use, but much like more big men now, he has the ability to step out and shoot the deep ball with confidence, which makes him difficult to guard.
He is tall but could add some muscle to him before the season starts to really make an impact. More importantly he needs to learn better body and ball control.
Center: AJ Hammons, 7-0 junior
After deciding to come back for his junior year instead of jumping to the NBA draft, the Boilers instantly become much better.
Hammons has been a large part of what little success the Boilermakers have had the past two years.
He averages about a double-double per game. He is strong at muscling his way down low and putting the ball in the basket. With his big frame he is able to bring down defensive, but more importantly, offensive rebounds for Purdue.
He is a large threat to opponents on the block on the defensive end as well. His long reach and brick wall stature make him hard to move and can block a shot at anytime.
Hammons however needs to improve his ball handling as he contributed 78 turnovers last year. There are big expectations for Hammons this year with two full years under his belt.
Bench: Basil Smotherman, 6-5 sophomore
He gained some experience last year coming off the bench and it seems this will be his role again.
Smotherman is not the greatest offensive player but he can contribute on that end.
On the defensive side of the ball he is strong in one-on-one situations. He is very good at aggravating the opponent and keeping them in front of him.
He should bring a good change of pace off the bench for the Boilermakers
Bench: Issac Haas, 7-2 freshman
Haas has a lot to learn before he becomes a starter.
He is a big body down low and is very efficient at scoring on the block. Haas uses his frame to grab many rebounds and he is also strong at getting put backs after missed shots.
Similar to Hammons, he uses his frame to weaken the opponent and is very good an blocking shots.
The only worry for Haas is can he stay healthy because it already looks as if his knees are having a hard time keeping up with his play.
The Boilermakers have a lot to look forward to this year with this starting five. Hopefully they can provide a few more wins and make a strong push at making it into the top six of the Big Ten.