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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 26, Digital 5

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Page 61 of 92

P.J. THOMPSON 3 5-10 • G • Jr. Purdue's incumbent at point guard, Thompson's season didn't end on a high note by any means, as he struggled in the NCAA Tournament to the point that the Boilermakers played in overtime against Little Rock without a true point guard on the floor for a while. But Thompson was an important piece of Purdue's success. For a player who set a school record for assist-to-turnover ratio and shot a team-best percentage from three-point range, the next step might be growing into that presence Purdue needs in the situations it struggled with, that player who wants the ball under pressure and can handle it. That stuff doesn't just fall on the point guard, but that's also largely that po- sition's job description. VINCE EDWARDS 12 6-8 • F • Jr. Assuming Edwards is back for his junior season after going through the new wide- open system for NBA exploration, he might be on the verge of big things for the Boilermakers. After seemingly taking a while to acclimate to his role on the wing alongside Purdue's size, he came on strong during the back half of the season and finished it playing some of his most aggressive, most productive basketball. When he was aggressive in looking for his shot or attacking off the dribble or in the open floor, he made Purdue significantly better. If the end of last season was any indication, he may pick right up next season as an All-Big Ten sort of player. CALEB SWANIGAN 50 6-9 • F/C • So. Same as Edwards: If he doesn't leave for the NBA — and Swanigan is more of a pos- sibility to do so than his fellow forward — you can expect bigger and better things from him in Year 2. He too went through a transition that wasn't always a straight line, but he was at his best at the end of the season and stands to use that as his starting point next season. He can be a dominant player next season, whether it be in a presumed starting role at the 4 or in presumed backup minutes to Isaac Haas at the 5, where there will be matchups he can simply annihilate facing the basket on offense. Look what Purdue did offensively when he played center for stretches as a freshman. ISAAC HAAS 44 7-2 • C • Jr. A.J. Hammons is gone and now it's Haas' long-awaited time to shine. He's been as pro- ductive and influential a backup big man as there's been in college basketball. Now, his role changes. If he's as productive over bigger minutes as he was in limit- ed ones last season, he'll be All-Big Ten, maybe more. But he's no sure thing. The mammoth center must improve his conditioning in accordance with his minutes being set to double. He will have to avoid foul trouble and the mental trappings that can come with the realities of his unique relationship with officials. He can get better as a rebound- er and defender and especially as a decision-maker with the ball in the post. But there will be games he dominates. DAKOTA MATHIAS 31 6-4 • G • Jr. Mathias changed things for Purdue offen- sively late in the season with his aggressive, authoritative play and that must be his new normal, because that's just what the Boiler- makers need from him. He's Purdue's best offensive play- er in the backcourt, not just as a shooter but more so as a passer and presence. He was the one guy who always demonstrably wanted the ball in key situations, and his clutch-shot to clutch-opportunity ratio was off the charts. But he has to stay healthy and, though he has come a long way on defense, will have to be good at that end of the floor. Purdue will have to change defensively next season to ac- Purdue Men's Lineup — Brian Neubert GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED OLUME 26, ISSUE 5 62

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