With freshman forward Caleb Swanigan officially cleared for competition a couple days ago, Purdue has its full allotment of players for what should be one of the nation’s best front court rotations. With their combination of talent, depth and size, head coach Matt Painter won’t lack for options as the Boilermakers look to make a second consecutive NCAA tournament appearance and contend in the Big Ten.
Those options also mean that junior forward Basil Smotherman will redshirt, with the news being announced by Purdue Sunday afternoon. There were discussions about the 6-foot-6 Smotherman taking this path earlier this fall, using the redshirt season to improve his skill set with an eye towards being a major contributor in 2016-17, so the news wasn’t stunning at all.
In addition to Swanigan, Purdue has centers A.J. Hammons (center) and Isaac Haas (sophomore) and sophomore forward Vince Edwards. Add in 6-foot-10 redshirt freshman Jacquil Taylor and the presence of guards such as Rapheal Davis and Kendall Stephens who can allow Purdue to play small at times if they so choose, and spending a season honing his craft makes sense in Smotherman’s case.
In his first two seasons at Purdue Smotherman averaged 3.8 points and 2.8 rebounds per game, shooting 53.3 percent from the field and 57.6 percent from the foul line. More of an athletic slasher who can finish at the rim offensively, the season away from game competition should allow Smotherman to improve his perimeter shot.
As evidenced by their 15-17 overall record and 5-13 mark in the Big Ten, the 2013-14 season was a tough one for Matt Painter’s Purdue Boilermakers. Purdue had issues on both ends of the floor as they finished last in the Big Ten for the first time in eight seasons, but one of the biggest problems for the Boilermakers was their ability to shoot.
Purdue finished the season shooting 42.7% from the field and 32.7% from beyond the arc, figures that ranked ninth and eighth in the Big Ten, respectively. With that in mind, not to mention the goal of putting together a better season, rising sophomores Bryson Scott and Basil Smotherman have set a goal for themselves this offseason.
According to Nathan Baird of the Lafayette (Ind.) Courier & Journal, Scott and Smotherman have decided to take at least 50,000 shots apiece in hopes of improving their respective shooting percentages in 2014-15. And with the hard work comes confidence, not just from within themselves but also from teammates who see them taking the necessary steps to improve their games.
“I’ve been getting more confident, and the people that have been helping me are Bryson and Kendall,” Smotherman said after Purdue’s first summer workout. “They’re helping me get my confidence back. I always felt like when I shoot one and miss one I go away from it, but they’re like, ‘Just come back to it. Just keep shooting it. You can’t get down on yourself.’”
Purdue does have a low post scoring threat in rising junior center A.J. Hammons, who briefly considered entering the 2014 NBA Draft. But with Terone and Ronnie Johnson both having moved on, there’s a pressing need for perimeter scoring options to step up alongside Kendall Stephens. If that happens there will be other benefits for Purdue, one of which being Hammons having a little more room to operate with in the paint.
Both Scott (35.9% FG in 2013-14) and Smotherman (1-for-12 3PT) are working towards providing that relief, and it’s something that will need to happen if Matt Painter’s program is to bounce back from a disappointing 2013-14.
This is solid work from Purdue freshman Basil Smotherman, although it’s not the first time that we’ve seen him here on POSTERIZED.
At least this time it’s not Boilermaker on Boilermaker violence.
(MORE: Watch all of this year’s #POSTERIZED’s here)