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Gold and Black Illustrated Volume 28, Digital 5

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Page 43 of 60

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 28, ISSUE 5 44 a dose of energy to a relatively stoic roster and gave every reason to believe the best is yet to come as he develops both physically and offensively. Assuming he returns following his NBA exploration, Eastern will need to grow into being one of Purdue's top players, after showing flashes as his freshman season wore on. By the end of the season, he was logging more minutes than he had prior and impacting games for the better more often, particularly defensively and as a re- bounder. The 6-foot-6, 220-pounder was Purdue's backup point guard all season this year, and would project, as of today, to be its starter next season now that Thompson has de- parted, but Edwards and newcomer Hunter provide op- tions at the position and it's not outside the realm of pos- sible Painter adds a player to the mix this spring, though he's not desperate to, by any means. "The thing that's worrisome is if something happens — somebody stays in the draft or someone gets hurt," Painter said, "but I'm fine going into next season with the guys that we have now and feeling good about that." Cline figures to play a far bigger role as a senior than he ever has, and the 40-plus-percent three-point shoot- er should see a significantly increased scoring role. On paper, Purdue looks like it should be more guard-driven next season. "We do have more guys suited to play through ball screens," Painter said. "When you've seen how we've played, we've always run things to get the ball to people who can make plays and score." Translation: An offensive scheme that could be de- signed to generate opportunities for Edwards, who's done just fine to this point in his career generating op- portunities for himself. "I'd say we're going to have to be more decision-mak- ing driven, because that allows you to do what you want to do," Painter said. "If you have a good big guy, it makes sense to throw the ball in the low post; if you have peo- ple who can catch and shoot, it makes sense to try to get them open for shots. I think being able to have a balance, Carsen gives us a guy who can score in a number of ways and his ability to score off the dribble and make plays for himself, but also other people, is really important, and that's where you kind of start with your team in terms of your decision-making. "You will get the freedom that you earn, and that's where Carsen really improved as the season went on. He didn't abuse his freedom. He'll still have stretches during games, but when you look at things as a whole, he did such a better job and for a guy who shoots as much as he does, and that's so important." Purdue will hope Boudreaux's Ivy League productivity translates to the Big Ten. The high-motor 6-8, 220-pound forward led the Ivy in scoring and rebounding as a sophomore, averaging 17-and-a-half points and nine-and-a-half rebounds. As a freshman, he was the league's Freshman-of-the-Year after averaging 17.7 points and 9.4 boards. He made 41 percent of his threes as a freshman, 35 percent as a sophomore. He's an experienced player, but not in a Purdue uni- form; Wheeler and Stefanovic aren't new to Purdue uni- forms, but they're inexperienced, coming off redshirt seasons. Wheeler's a wiry 6-9 with elite athleticism and length and a rapidly improving jump shot who Painter wants to see translate athleticism into productivity, no matter which forward position he's playing, which right now re- mains to be seen. "If you're a guy who's that athletic and the only time you show it is when you get a breakaway dunk, that's not really helping you," Painter said. "That's going to be an important piece for us. Does he rebound? Does he run the court? Does he defend and use his length to really up his value as a player? "He has a lot of talent and ability, but that's going to be a telltale for him, whether that athleticism leads to production. I think it can." Stefanovic will give Purdue another shooting threat and some offensive savvy, Painter said. "Sasha can really shoot the basketball and play with- out the basketball," he said. "He really does a good job moving without the ball and knowing what's going on. We feel like from a decision-making standpoint and be- ing effective on the offensive end, he can help us, and I think he's made some strides defensively but still has to have that mentality of stopping people." Among the incoming freshmen, Hunter — one of the top players in Indiana during his high school career — figures to see the most prominent immediate role, in part because of Purdue's backcourt numbers and in part because of his anticipated ability to play both point guard

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