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Gold and Black Illustrated Volume 28, Digital 5

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GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 28, ISSUE 5 43 just a sophomore and the winner of this season's Jerry West Award as the na- tion's premier shooting guard. One of the finest scorers in college basketball this season, Edwards will be a preseason All-American should he return to school and almost certainly the preseason player-of-the-year in the Big Ten, a virtual guarantee now that Michigan's Mo Wagner is gone. Edwards' rise from freshman to sophomore was meteoric. "I'll take the same approach I did this last summer," he said following the season's conclusion, "just trying to make improvements in every area, small improvements in every area and it'll all add up in the end. I still have a lot of work to do, and I have time now to get on to that." While Edwards starred, Haarms stunned, unexpectedly emerging as a red- shirt freshman as a transformative player short-term for Purdue and a po- tential star himself long-term. He solidified the Boilermakers' No. 2 center position, gave Purdue defensive options and a high-level shot-blocker, added Purdue Athletics A career 40-percent three-point shooter, Ryan Cline figures to have a bigger role as a senior. OFF-SEASON KEYS Some elements that will really matter for Purdue these next few months in advance of next season. Leadership: The Boilermak- ers' three multi-year captains are gone, as are two other seniors, and the roster is loaded with players inexperienced in the program. Carsen Edwards may have to loom large due to his prominence. Chemistry: Purdue will have just five rotation players back and the core Edwards has mostly played with is largely gone. Strength: More so than any recent off-season, Purdue needs to get bigger and stronger across the board. It starts with Matt Haarms, but is crucial, too, for the debuting Aaron Wheeler, Eric Hunter and Sasha Stefanovic. Foul shooting: This starts with Haarms and sophomore guard Nojel Eastern, who at center and point guard, respectively, play two of the most-often fouled positions. As freshmen, they shot 54 and 42 percent from the line, respective- ly, obviously a four-alarm sort of emphasis now. Team defense: Athletically, Purdue's roster would seem to have ample defensive potential, as Edwards, Haarms and Eastern could all contend for All-Big Ten defensive team honors. But the collective group is going to be so new that the collective must come along quickly, you'd think. — Brian Neubert

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