2012-2013 Overall Rank: #50
Conference Rank: #7 Big Ten
Purdue Team Page
Purdue made it back to the NCAA Tournament last season and Coach Matt Painter should have his team ready to make yet another trip to the postseason. In order to do so, the Boilermakers will need to rely on wings Terone Johnson and D.J. Byrd. Johnson came in mostly off of the bench during his sophomore season, but was third on the team in scoring with 9.2 points per game. He will be the new go-to-scorer on the perimeter. While Johnson is not much of a shooter from anywhere on the floor, he will do plenty of damage around the basket. Byrd is the shooter of the bunch and connected on 42.7 percent of his attempts from long range. A year ago the 6-5, 228 pound wing spent some time at the four spot, but he should be able to play at his more natural wing spot more often this year. That is good for Byrd and even better for the Purdue rebounding margin.
2011-12 Record: 22-13, 10-8
2011-12 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Matt Painter
Coach Record: 160-77 at Purdue, 185-82 overall
The big loss is Robbie Hummel. Of course Purdue has spent way too much time without Hummel on the floor over the last five years, but now they are prepared for life without him. Still replacing his 16.4 points, 7.2 rebounds and boundless leadership will be extremely difficult. The backcourt will take a big hit with the absence of Ryne Smith, Kelsey Barlow and Lewis Jackson. Smith was the most consistent and prolific shooter on the entire team and that is saying a lot considering how good of shooters Hummel and Byrd were last season. Barlow was a big, tough wing who could attack the basket and helped out a lot on the glass when Purdue was playing small. But perhaps the loss of Jackson is the biggest of them all. The point guard averaged 4.2 assists and just 1.7 turnovers per game. He was also the only other player besides Hummel to average in double figures last season. Jackson also spearheaded the defensive effort and there is not an obvious replacement for him at the point.
Purdue expects Ronnie Johnson to step right into the starting point guard role. The younger brother of Terone, Ronnie Johnson is a pure point guard and should develop into a great floor leader. How quickly that happens will go a long way in determining the success of this team. Ronnie Johnson will not need to score since there are plenty of other options for that, but he does need to keep the team under control and avoid turnovers. Wing Rapheal Davis and walk-on Stephen Toyra will look to add depth on the perimeter. Ronnie Johnson may be the most important newcomer, but the frontcourt has a few players who can make an impact right away. Donnie Hale is a big power forward who can get up and down the floor and knock down the mid-range jumper with consistency. He spent last year on the sidelines beefing up and now he is ready to hit the boards and block some shots. Jay Simpson may get lost in the shuffle for now, but the Boilermakers expect big things from A.J. Hammons. The 7-0, 280 pound freshman already has the girth to battle in the paint against just about anybody the Big Ten can throw his way. He will need more time to develop a consistent offensive game, but Hammons is ready to at least eat up some minutes. If he develops as quickly as many hope, Hammons will be playing starters minutes by the end of this season.
Who to Watch:
But those new big guys have some competition. On an inexperienced squad, beating out juniors Travis Carroll and Sandi Marcius and sophomore Jacob Lawson will not be easy. Carroll started 20 games last season, but never emerged as a scoring threat, averaging just 2.6 points per game in 17.1 minutes of play. He also lacks the strength to go up against many opposing big men in the conference. Marcius has that size, but he has not been fully healthy in quite some time. When healthy, he can fill that big man void until Hammons is ready to step into that role. Lawson had his moments during his freshman campaign. He showed off his superb athleticism and looked to be a promising forward of the future. However, by February and March he pretty much disappeared for games at a time. That happens to freshmen who have to deal with the grind of a long, tough season and Lawson should be good to go for the full season. How much he can improve his production is another question. The Purdue frontcourt right now is a patchwork. There are good defenders, solid rebounders, big bodies, shooters and experience. There is also the opposite of all those things and Coach Painter may have to do a lot of substituting depending on the situation to get the right players in at the right time.
As important as emerging talent in the frontcourt will be, it does not compare to the need at the point. Ronnie Johnson heads into the fall as the clear starter, but he is just a freshman. Anthony Johnson, a 6-3 sophomore, could see time running the point as well. Anthony Johnson struggled from beyond the arc last season, but he is a good shooter and will find the floor whether he is on the ball or providing an offensive spark off of the bench. Terone Johnson may have to be a point guard on occasion as well. He did average 2.0 assists per game last season, ranking second on the team. However, he will be much too valuable of a scorer to spend too many minutes trying to get the rest of the team involved. Watch out for former walk-on Dru Anthrop. The senior will not play a ton of minutes, but he is an actual point guard and has enough talent to steal a few minutes here and there. If the point guard situation turns out halfway decent, this is a Purdue team that should make it back to the NCAA Tournament. A Big Ten title run may be asking too much from this young group, but the expectations for 2013-2014 will go through the roof with a good season this year.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Ronnie Johnson, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Terone Johnson, Junior, Guard, 9.2 points per game
D.J. Byrd, Senior, Guard, 8.9 points per game
Travis Carroll, Junior, Forward, 2.6 points per game
Sandi Marcius, Junior, Forward, 1.6 points per game
Madness 2012 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#81 Ronnie Johnson
#94 A.J. Hammons
#104 Rapheal Davis
#108 Jay Simpson