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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 27, Digital 5

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Carsen Edwards 3 6-0 • G • So. The rookie guard was bound to experience some inconsistency given the delicate balance he was asked to strike between the über- aggressiveness that's made him the player he is and the sort of decision- making Purdue needed from him. There were indeed ups and downs, but way more ups than downs, and many more ups to come. Edwards' immediate impact was profound and a pleasant surprise, but the best is yet to come. He has to keep learning and improve on defense, but he may be bound for stardom at Purdue, which hasn't had many guards like him. P.J. Thompson 11 5-10 • G • Sr. The rock-solid point guard, leader and big-shot-maker has played like a senior for a few years now. Now, he actually is one, back for his final season as Purdue's point man. At this point in his career, Thompson probably is what he is with minimal up-side, but what he's been has been good enough for the Boilermakers to win an awful lot of games with lately. Vincent Edwards 12 6-8 • F • Sr. If he comes back for his senior season — he's put his name in the NBA draft for the second consecutive spring and has 'til May 24 to finalize his plans — Edwards could be poised for big things. If Caleb Swanigan goes pro, his usage should go through the roof, and the Edwards that ended this season in the NCAA Tournament looked like a player poised to be the Boilermakers' next alpha. Ryan Cline 14 6-5 • G • Jr. Cline made strides as a sophomore after his season got off to a rocky start, and wound up a starter in the postseason. The most likely scenario probably has Carsen Edwards moving back into the starting unit, but no matter what, Cline will be a key contributor. He's a big-time shooter, he's improved off the dribble, gotten stronger and progressed defensively more than he's given credit for. Jacquil Taylor 23 6-10 • F/C • Jr. Purdue can't possibly have any idea what to expect from the injury- riddled big man and may have to view anything it gets from him as a pleasant surprise. He's simply not been able to stay healthy, undercutting his career, just as his big opportunity would otherwise loom. He may be a candidate one day for an eligibility waiver, but it would be silly to look too far ahead in this case. His history suggests nothing should be taken for granted. Dakota Mathias 31 6-4 • G • Sr. Mathias easily could have been named to the back end of the All- Big Ten list this season after a junior year in which he was a key element to all that made Purdue such a prolific offensive team, all while he improved so much on defense that he made some of the Boilermakers' presumed glaring weaknesses much less so. He was named to the Big Ten's All-Defense team and was the best shooter on one of the country's best shooting teams and the best passer on one of its highest-scoring teams. Isaac Haas 44 7-2 • C • Sr. Haas also has his name in the NBA draft but would seem like the most likely of Purdue's three water-testers to return next season, for a variety of reasons. Should he, he will move back into the primary center role for the Boilermakers, who'd miss Swanigan's skill at the 5 — among other things — but would have to scheme to play to foul-magnet Haas' strengths best it can. He has been a dominant player at times in his Purdue career, but the Boilermakers would need more consistency from him. Caleb Swanigan 50 6-9 • F/C • So. The All-American has left the door open to return for another season, but you might consider the chances of him actually coming back to be minute. If he does leave — and every indication is that his time is now — then Purdue ought to simply wish him well and thank him for his time. This was one of the most impressive seasons the program has ever seen, and he was honored accordingly, with a first-team spot on every All-America team that matters and finalist status for both the Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy. Matt Haarms 32 7-3 • F/C • R-Fr. It was coup for the 2017 signee to enroll in January and get his inevitable redshirt year out of the way while getting to practice against Swanigan and be part of a championship team. The young big man has made progress physically, but there's work left to do. He'll never be a player defined by strength or power, though. What he will be defined by, Purdue hopes, is his ability to shoot and dribble and the mobility and length that the Boilermakers should be able to put to good use on defense. Nojel Eastern — 6-6 • G • Fr. The rookie guard will give Purdue almost unparalleled size in its backcourt, to be utilized in any number of roles. Eastern's an excellent passer who would seem positioned to the Boilermakers' No. 2 point guard next season, but also his defensive capabilities on the wing should afford Purdue some flexibility to assign him to guard at least three positions, if not four, matchups permitting. Eden Ewing — 6-9 • F • Jr. Even if Purdue brings most of its NBA dabblers back, Ewing's athleticism alone could find him a distinct niche. He's likely to primarily play power forward for the Boilermakers, but might be able to play on the wing some, as well. He can shoot the ball some from the perimeter, but may not possess quite the skill level Purdue's had at his position before, between Swanigan and Vincent Edwards, Robbie Hummel long before. Sasha Stefanovic — 6-5 • G • Fr. You never know what's going to happen, but it would seem like Purdue can certainly bring the freshman shooting guard along slowly, if not redshirt him. It's just difficult to see where the minutes are going to come from with Mathias and Cline — the same general profile of player as Stefanovic — back as upperclassmen. But Purdue has wanted a shooter in every class and Stefanovic is just that. Aaron Wheeler — 6-8 • 8 • Fr. The common thread among this freshman class is that it makes Purdue a more athletic and longer team. Wheeler might be the face of it. Strength will be an area to develop for the wiry 6-foot-8, 190-pound wing, but he is tall and athletic, can shoot and handle and is coming off a season in which he helped his Brewster Academy team go 33-0 against some of the best competition in the country. This is the proverbial high-ceiling player that Purdue will have to develop, but he's walking in the door trending upward. Deep Bench Grady Eifert 24 6-6 • F • Jr. Tommy Luce 15 5-10 • G • So. Boilermakers Meet The GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 27, ISSUE 5 64

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