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Re-ranking the 2009 recruiting class

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July’s live recruiting period, the last of its kind, just finished up, meaning that the Class of 2019 have fully had a chance to prove themselves to the recruiters and the recruitniks around the country.

Scholarships were earned and rankings were justified over the course of those three weekends, but scholarship offers and rankings don’t always tell us who the best players in a given class will end up being.

Ask Steph Curry.

Over the course of the coming weeks, we will be re-ranking eight recruiting classes, from 2007-2014, based on what they have done throughout their post-high school career. 

Here are the 25 best players from the Class of 2009, with their final Rivals Top 150 ranking in parentheses:

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1. Kawhi Leonard (48)

Despite a controversial 2017-18 season and a forced trade to the Toronto Raptors this offseason, Leonard is still only 27 years old and arguably the best two-way wing in the NBA. A former NBA champion and Finals MVP, Leonard has two first-team All-NBA selections to go along with winning Defensive Player of the Year twice. In a significantly weaker Eastern Conference, the Raptors are hoping Leonard gives them the edge to finally make a Finals push.

2. John Wall (1)

Wall has ascended into a perennial NBA All-Star and playoff performer as he’s become one of the best floor generals in the league. Putting up great numbers and making clutch plays during the 2017 NBA Playoffs, Wall also made an All-NBA team (third team in 2017) and an All-NBA Defensive Team (second team in 2015) within the last three years. Although Wall made some key plays in the playoffs, the Wizards have struggled to make a significant dent in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.

3. DeMarcus Cousins (2)

Arguably the top player in this class from a pure talent perspective, Cousins has molded into a new-age threat in the middle. With his combination of inside ability, and an improved perimeter game, Cousins became a nightly triple-double threat for the Pelicans last season until a torn Achilles’ ended his 2017-18 campaign prematurely. Although Cousins has made two All-NBA Second Teams and four all-star games, he hasn’t played in a postseason game since Kentucky was eliminated by West Virginia during the 2010 Elite Eight. Cousins made a controversial decision to sign a one-year deal with the Golden State Warriors this offseason as he chases his first postseason appearance.

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4. C.J. McCollum (UR)

It took two seasons for McCollum to crack the starting lineup in Portland, but he’s thrived as an efficient 20-point-per-game scorer over the past several seasons. Forming one of the league’s best backcourts with point guard Damian Lillard, McCollum was the league’s Most Improved Player and also led the NBA in free-throw percentage during one season.

5. Khris Middleton (140)

Quietly one of the best two-way wings in the NBA, Middleton put up great numbers during the 2017-18 season after a left hamstring injury sidelined him for much of the previous season. Middleton averaged 20.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.5 steals per game last season as he didn’t miss a single game for the Bucks. Also stepping up his play in the 2018 NBA Playoffs, Middleton scored 24.7 points per game and shot 61 percent from three-point range in the seven-game series loss to the Boston Celtics.

6. Hassan Whiteside (87)

A classic late-blooming big man, Whiteside has become one of the NBA’s most productive big men over the last few seasons. Leading the league in blocks and rebounds during a season within the past three years, Whiteside puts up some monster numbers with the Miami Heat. But the perception of Whiteside might have changed in the postseason this year. Whiteside struggled to stay on the floor thanks to his lack of floor-spacing as he only played 15 minutes per game during the Heat’s first-round exit.

7. Eric Bledsoe (23)

Bledsoe has become a solid mid-level starter at point guard as he helped lead the Bucks back into the NBA Playoffs after a mid-season trade from the Phoenix Suns. Putting up solid all-around numbers during the past few seasons, Bledsoe emerged into a reputable scorer and distributor once the Clippers moved him to the Suns a few seasons ago. Although Bledsoe has put up numbers, he hasn’t played in many postseason games to this point in his career. Bledsoe was also soundly outplayed by the Celtics’ Terry Rozier during stretches of the first round.

8. Avery Bradley (4)

Just finishing a lost season between Detroit and the Clippers, Bradley was one of the key pieces in the revival of the Celtics the past few seasons. Known mostly for his perimeter defense, as he’s a two-time All-NBA Defensive Team member, Bradley has also improved his offense to become a consistent double-figure scorer and solid three-point threat. Bradley re-signed with the Clippers this offseason as he’s hoping for a bounceback 2018-19 campaign.

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9. Derrick Favors (3)

A consistent piece in the Utah Jazz frontcourt, Favors has been a double-figure performer and key rotation player on a playoff team the past two seasons. Although Favors never developed into a consistent scorer after a positive start to his pro career, he is a beyond serviceable big man who has improved as a shot blocker at the NBA level. Favors just re-signed with Utah this offseason to a 2-year, $36 million deal, as he’s also one of the highest-paid players on this list.

10. Kelly Olynyk (UR)

With his ability to play inside and outside, Olynyk has become a valuable reserve big man who signed a four-year, $50 million deal with the Miami Heat last offseason. Since Olynyk can knock down three-pointers, his versatility has enhanced lineups he’s played with in Boston and Miami as he’s one of the best backup big men in the NBA.

11. John Henson (5)

Spending his entire six-year run with the Milwaukee Bucks, Henson is a frontcourt rotation member for a playoff contender. A solid shot-blocker who spent much of this season as a starter, Henson is content to be a rim protector and limited scorer on a team filled with offensive weapons. Unfortunately for Henson, he battled some back issues with the NBA Playoffs as he had to miss most of the Celtics series.

12. Mason Plumlee (55)

A former All-American and four-year guy at Duke, Plumlee has been a solid rotation big man in the Western Conference. After starting his career with the Brooklyn Nets — which included a selection on the 2014 FIBA World Cup team — Plumlee was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers, and eventually, the Denver Nuggets. Plumlee averaged nearly 20 minutes a game and put up decent stats for Denver this past season (7.1 points, 5.4 rebounds per game) as he’s in the midst of a three-year, $41-million contract.

13. Lance Stephenson (11)

The up-and-down pro career of Stephenson has been fascinating to follow. At one point, Stevenson was a triple-double threat for the Indiana Pacers as he had some fierce battles with LeBron in the Playoffs. Then Stevenson left the Pacers, and played for a staggering six teams in three seasons before regaining some of his previous form as a role player with Indiana. In a strange twist, Stephenson has signed with the Lakers this offseason, as he’ll be teammates with James, his former rival.

(Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

14. Alec Burks (UR)

At one point, Burks looked like a potential double-figure scorer as he was one of the bright, young pieces the Utah Jazz were building around. But Burks has fallen out of favor the past few seasons, as he only appeared in 64 games in 2017-18 as Donovan Mitchell fever swept through Utah. Burks did find a way to become more consistent in the NBA Playoffs this season.

15. Mike Muscala (UR)

Not many would have pegged Muscala as a steady NBA big man at this point in his career. But he spent five seasons on the Atlanta Hawks before getting traded to the Philadelphia 76ers this offseason. The big man has been able to stick in the league thanks in-part to his 37 percent career three-point percentage.

16. Rodney McGruder (84)

McGruder came out of nowhere to start 65 games for the Miami Heat during the 2016-17 season, as he proved himself to be an NBA-caliber player. A stress fracture in his left leg limited McGruder to only 16 games with the Heat last season. McGruder is in the midst of a three-year deal.

17. Tim Frazier (109)

A reserve point guard on the Wizards this past season, the former Penn State product has grinded to stay in the league. Frazier has played for five teams in four NBA seasons, as he averaged close to 15 minutes per game playing behind John Wall this past season.

18. Solomon Hill (27)

It took some time for Hill to find his way into the league, but he earned his stripes as a frontcourt rotation member with the Pacers and Pelicans. Known more as a defensive presence, Hill only played in 12 games for the Pelicans last season as he was recovering from a torn hamstring.

19. Isaiah Canaan (UR)

Canaan has played in parts of five NBA seasons with five teams, as he played 19 games for the Phoenix Suns last season. Canaan had some solid games for the Suns, before they released him in late January when he fractured his left ankle. The Suns have re-signed Canaan for the 2018-19 season.

20. C.J. Wilcox (108)

Playing in parts of three NBA seasons for the Clippers and Magic, Wilcox has bounced between the G League and the NBA. Wilcox missed all of last season after right knee surgery as he was on a two-way contract with Portland. The Pacers recently signed Wilcox to a two-way contract for the 2018-19 season.

21. Travis Wear (60)

Out of the NBA for two seasons after playing for the Knicks during his rookie campaign in 2014-15, Wear grinded his way back into the league this past season, as he appeared in 17 games for the Lakers. The Lakers were so impressed with Wear’s performance that they signed him for the rest of the season. He’ll start the 2018-19 season on a two-way contract with the Lakers.

22. Brandon Paul (42)

Another late-bloomer who grinded late into the NBA, Paul played in Russia, Spain and Turkey before latching on with the San Antonio Spurs on a fully-guaranteed contract last season. Paul appeared in 64 games for the Spurs as he put 2.3 points per game. The Spurs opted to waive Paul on July 31, making him a free agent.

23. Derrick Williams (UR)

The former No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft hasn’t found a way to consistently stick in the league as he’s bounced around the league the past few seasons. After playing in 50 games with the Heat and Cavaliers in 2016-17, Williams signed a 10-day contract with the Lakers this past season, as he only appeared in two games.

24. Thomas Robinson (31)

Another former top-five pick who washed out of the league prematurely, Robinson last played in the NBA during the 2016-17 campaign when he suited up for the Lakers. After playing for six NBA teams during his career, Robinson signed on to play professional in Russia last season.

25. Hollis Thompson (63)

Thompson spent four seasons with the 76ers and a brief stint with New Orleans before moving on to Greek powerhouse Olympiacos last season. At the height of his NBA career, Thompson averaged 9.8 points per game while averaging 28.0 minutes per contest for the 2015-16 76ers.

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

FIVE NOTABLES THAT DIDN’T MAKE THE TOP 25

Renardo Sidney (16)

Still regarded, to this day, as one of the most talented high school underclassmen of his generation, Sidney was never able to sustain any sort of consistency when it came to basketball. After washing out at Mississippi State, Sidney tried to join on with the G League and a Venezuelan pro league. At least Sidney can claim he was, at one point, a No. 1 pick. The Compton Airmen of the California Basketball Association drafted Sidney No. 1 overall in 2016.

Royce White (19)

The former Houston Rockets first-round pick has been more notable for his mental health advocacy than his pro playing career. White did start to make some waves in the basketball world when he won MVP of the Canadian NBL during the 2016-17 season. Helping the London Lightning to a league championship that season, White’s issues re-appeared the following season. In April, in the midst of the NBL playoffs, White was suspended 11 games for a verbal outburst towards an official and the deputy commissioner of the league. White signed to play in Italy for next season.

Jordan Hamilton (6)

The highest-ranked player out of high school to be left off this list, Hamilton played parts of five seasons in the NBA before starting his overseas career. Hamilton has spent time in Russia, Turkey, Israel, Italy and Venezuela during his well-traveled professional career.

Xavier Henry (8)

At one time regarded as the No. 1 player in this high school class, Henry spent parts of five seasons in the NBA before playing in the G League the last several years. Henry last appeared in the NBA in the 2014-15 season when he appeared in nine games for the Lakers.

John Jenkins (15)

A first-round pick of the Phoenix Suns after three years at Vanderbilt, Jenkins was never able to carve out a role as a deep-shooting threat. After four seasons in the NBA, Jenkins eventually made his way over to Spain.

 

Evolution of Matt Painter: Most malleable coach in college basketball

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The second installment of our memorable moments series features Purdue.

The Boilermakers played two of the best games of last year’s tournament, and they exemplified just how malleable Matt Painter’s coaching is, and just how much that matters heading into next season.

RELATED: Looking back at Virginia’s title run

This is recency bias at it’s very finest, I can fully admit that, but I find it very hard to believe that you can find an example of a more heart-wrenching roller coaster ride of emotions than what Purdue fans experienced in Louisville during the second weekend of the NCAA tournament in 2019.

Let’s start with that Sweet 16 game against Tennessee. Purdue blew a 17-point second half lead before Ryan Cline made four straight threes in the final six minutes to put the Boilermakers in a position where a controversial foul sent Carsen Edwards to the free throw line. He made two of three to force overtime, where Purdue pulled away. After putting the Volunteers to bed, Matt Painter’s boys advanced to the Elite Eight to face Virginia, owners of the nation’s best defense, where Edwards went nuts, scoring 24 of his 42 points – and hitting six of his ten threes – in the final 13 minutes before a missed box out and this heads up play from Virginia’s Kihei Clark forced overtime and, eventually, cost the Boilermakers a trip to their first Final Four in 39 years:

My fingernails and voice were gone by the time Tony Bennett and Virginia officially advanced to the Final Four, and all I had on the line was a couple of bets.

(For the record, I took Tennessee in the Sweet 16 and Purdue in the Elite Eight. I lost both bets.)

But beyond my degeneracy, both of these games had something else in common – a Purdue player going absolutely bonkers to close out the game.

Against Tennessee, Cline scored 22 of his 27 points in the second half, hitting four straight threes in a five minute stretch to get the game to the extra period. Cline didn’t even end up as Purdue’s leading scorer on that night. Edwards, who had 29 points and fired up 14 threes, was. Those 29 points came in between back-to-back 42 point outbursts by the 33rd pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. In total, Edwards found a way to get up 61 threes in four NCAA tournament games. Cline was able to get off 34 threes in four games, and those two stats serve as a pretty fair summation of what Purdue basketball was during the 2018-19 season.

Purdue attempted 977 threes last year. Since 2010, only four high major teams have shot more threes in a single season than Purdue did last year – Villanova in each of the last two seasons, Auburn in 2018-19 and Michigan in 2017-18; the latter played in an NCAA record 41 games that season and averaged 2.5 fewer threes attempted per game than Purdue did this past season. The Boilermakers set a record for the most threes attempted in a Big Ten season with 501.

Edwards and Cline were the two guys that led the way. They took 646 threes combined last year, which is two-thirds of their team total. Edwards led the Big Ten in three-pointers attempted during league play. Cline finished second. Combined, they shot more threes – 327 in total – than Minnesota’s entire team.

And that’s fascinating to me.

Because just four years ago, the Boilermakers finished 12th in the Big Ten in three pointers attempted with just 332 as a team. That season, the first in a four-year stretch where Purdue has been arguably the best program in the Big Ten, 24.8 percent of Purdue’s offense came via post-ups.

For the record, that number is insane.

Oral Roberts finished second nationally in that stat in 2016, finishing with just over 18 percent of their offense coming via post-ups. Since the 2007-08 season – which is as far back as I’m willing to trust Synergy’s data – only three teams have finished the season running more than 21 percent of their through the post: Purdue in 2015-16, Purdue in 2016-17 and Stanford in 2007-08, the final year that the Lopez twins were in Palo Alto.

But there’s more.

This past season, just 7.4 percent of Purdue’s offense came via post-ups. In 2011-12, Robbie Hummel’s final season with the program, that number was just 2.9 percent.

In the span of seven years, Matt Painter went from running a program that played Hummel, a 6-foot-8 small forward, at the five to one that paired Caleb Swanigan with Isaac Haas to one that rode Edwards going full YOLO to within a Mamadi Diakite buzzer-beater of the Final Four.

That is not normal.

And it should tell you all you need to know about the man running things in West Lafayette.


(Getty Images)

Robbie Hummel remembers it like it was yesterday.

It’s early December in 2011, just nine games into his senior season, and Purdue is fresh off of blowing a 19-point second half lead in a loss in Cincinnati to No. 11 Xavier. He’s with the rest of his team in the film room, watching as Painter is going over everything that went wrong on that Saturday in the Cintas Center. When you blow a 19-point lead in less than 11 minutes, a lot went wrong.

Hummel’s not looking forward to it. He scored 17 points, but it took him 21 shots to get there. He didn’t play great, but there is one shot in particular that he’s dreading. He knows it’s going to be in the edit that Painter shows. With more than 20 seconds left on the shot clock, he waves off not one but two different Purdue guards. He squares up Xavier’s Travis Taylor. He goes between his legs, he crosses over, he puts the ball back between his legs, takes one dribble to get into a rhythm and lets loose with a 24-foot three that hits nothing but air.

It’s not even close.

When it shows up on the screen, he knows what’s coming.

“Robbie,” Painter says, without a hint of sarcasm in his voice, “that’s the worst f***ing shot in the history of basketball.”

And Painter is right.

The announcers on the broadcast point out how bad the shot is. His teammates at the time know it’s an awful shot. Watching the clip now, Hummel says it’s “just a horrific possession and shot,” laughing with the benefit of hindsight.

I’m telling you that story because it’s funny. Anyone that knows Painter has a story like that, he’s just that kind of a guy. Maybe one day I’ll share the one I heard about the time Pat Knight hosted him on a recruiting visit at Indiana, but first I’ll need to iron out what’s fact, what’s legend and what is forever off the record. Again, that’s the kind of guy he is.

But it also serves to drive home a point, one that I kept hearing from people is what makes Painter so damn good as a coach: His ability to identify what, specifically, his players can do great, how to put them in a position to take advantage of those skills and – this is the important part – convincing them that they need to fully understand their own scouting report and play within their own abilities.

“Everybody looks at ‘talent,'” Painter told me last month, “but talent is overrated if someone is not going to play within the limits of what they can and cannot do. The more guys embrace that, the more productive they can be.”

And, in turn, the better the team can be.

The story I told you?

It’s the perfect example of this.

As a senior, Hummel was an All-American. As a junior, before suffering a pair of torn ACLs within the span of nine months, he averaged 15.7 points for a team that was one of the five best in America. As a senior two years later, he averaged 16.4 points before becoming a second round pick. He was a damn good college player, one of the best to ever set foot in Mackey Arena.

And that shot?

The worst f***ing shot in the history of basketball?

It looks an awful lot like these, doesn’t it?

Ask guys that have played for Painter about him, and they’ll tell you that he is very much a believer in the idea of confidence. He doesn’t want his players to be thinking when they are on the floor. If they have a chance to make a play or take a shot, he wants them to let it fly without being concerned that they’ll get yanked if they miss. But that comes with the caveat that his guys understand that what is a good shot for them differs from what is a good shot for him.

Edwards was the best in the country at what he did last season. He’ll spend a decade playing in the NBA specifically because of his ability to score, to make tough, deep, contested shots. “He’s got the juice,” Painter said. Likewise, Cline was one of the Big Ten’s very best shooters, and when he gets into the kind of rhythm that he was in against Tennessee, Painter is going to let him go. He has the ability to make those shots.

Hummel, as good as he was, is not a guy you want going 1-on-1 35 feet from the rim and settling for a contested, pull-up three. That’s not his game, but it is a good way to blow a 19-point lead on the road.

Which brings me back to the top.

Those post-ups.

In 2015-16, Purdue laid claim to the biggest and strongest frontline you’re ever going to see. They started 6-foot-9, 250 pound Caleb Swanigan at the four alongside either A.J. Hammons – who stood 7-foot, 250 pounds – or Isaac Haas – who checked in at 7-foot-2, 282 pounds. The following season, after Hammons graduated, Swanigan and Haas started together.

In 2017-18, Purdue ran out a lineup that looked different but played the same. Instead of using lineups predominantly featuring a pair of posts playing together, the Boilermakers put four perimeter players around Haas. That season, “only” 16 percent of their offense came via post-ups, which was sixth nationally.

“We had some really good big guys,” Greg Gary, who ran Purdue’s offense for the last four seasons, said. “That was our advantage. Our guards would get mad because we threw it in so much.”

The advantage for the Boilermakers lay in the fact that they forced the decision into making a decision. There were few, if any, players in the college ranks that were capable of slowing down any of those three Purdue bigs 1-on-1 in the post. If they got the ball where they wanted it, they were going to score. They were probably going to draw a foul. They would get your frontline into all kinds of foul trouble. You had to double, but doing so meant leaving someone that was a very good three-point shooter, because every perimeter player on the Purdue roster in recent seasons was a good three-point shooter.

Over the course of the last four seasons, even with a roster that featured the best post-up play in the country in three of those four seasons, Purdue has shot 36.7 percent, 40.2 percent, 42 percent and 37.4 percent from three. At worst, they were in the 80th percentile nationally from beyond the arc.

There is no better example of this than in 2017-18. That was the best offensive team Painter has ever had. They were the second most efficient offense in the country that season, trailing only national champion Villanova, who set a KenPom era record for efficiency that season. Your choice was either allowing Haas – who shot 61.7 percent from the floor, drew seven fouls per 40 minutes and made better than 75 percent of his free throws – to go 1-on-1, or you double-teamed him by leaving one of Carsen Edwards (40.6% 3PT), Vincent Edwards (39.8% 3PT), Dakota Mathias (46.6% 3PT), Ryan Cline (39.6% 3PT) or P.J. Thompson (44.1% 3PT).

So you tell me.

How do you stop that?

Everything changed this past season.

Matt Haarms took over as the starting center. He may be 7-foot-3, but he is not the post presence of his predecessors. Trevion Williams is going to be good, but he was a 280 pound freshman that just wasn’t ready. What that meant was that the Purdue coaching staff had to figure out something different.


(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Purdue has one of the biggest playbooks in college basketball.

Painter estimates that they have roughly 50 plays, but each one of those plays can be initiated from multiple different looks and they all have counters to the counters that are countering a counter.

“We would get a stapled booklet with all the plays every year during preseason,” Cline said, adding that often times offseason pick-up games would double as playbook study halls, because “if you don’t know the plays, you don’t play.

“There’s so many different play calls, five word sentences where one word changes [the play].”

Edwards used to joke with Gary that the play book “was my toughest class at Purdue.”

As a result, so much of Purdue’s success on the offensive end of the floor comes down to execution and deception. They don’t win off of raw talent. They win because the players excel at doing what the coaching staff asks them to do, and the coaching staff excels at figuring out exactly where they have an edge.

From 2015-2017, the answer was pounding the ball into the paint as much as humanly possible. When every post touch turns into David vs. Goliath, and you have Goliath, you give him the rock.

In 2017-18, it was forcing defenses to choose between guarding Mr. Incredible with one guy or playing 4-on-3 against four of the best shooters you’ll find in the college ranks.

This past season, the coaching staff figured out that there were three things they could build an offense around:

1. Edwards’ speed. He is not only one of the fastest players on any basketball court he steps foot on, he’s an absolute nightmare to chase around screens because he’s small, he’s compact, he can maneuver around screens better than anyone chasing him and he’s capable of rising up and drilling a catch-and-shoot three at top speed, especially when running to his left.

2. Haarms’ mobility. He can really move for a man his size. He can also handle the ball, he thrives in dribble-handoff actions and he has an innate understanding of when he can slip a screen and get a free run at the rim.

3. Cline’s awkward release. He has something of a slingshot motion that he fires from behind his head with a natural fade. That makes it very difficult to contest, especially when he is sprinting around screens to his right. He also proved himself an excellent passer and decision-maker, capable of hitting a big man rolling to the rim.

The result was an offense that, quite literally, turned into Edwards and Cline running circles around the court.

“We just had so much more movement because of not having a low post guy down there,” Gary said. “When you throw it to a guy in the post it gets stagnant. You try to get the big guy as much space as possible. We weren’t going to overpower anybody, so we had to have movement to occupy both sides of the floor.”

Imagine trying to guard this.

Imagine chasing Carsen Edwards off of a triple-screen. Imagine being a center 22 feet from the rim knowing that if you don’t help, Ryan Cline might bang a three in your face, but if you do help, Matt Haarms will slip the screen and find himself all alone in the paint without anyone within 10 feet of him.

And now imagine doing all of that knowing that one word is all it takes to change what action Purdue will be looking for, or that they can run the same thing out of three different looks.

Here’s the perfect example. Purdue ran the same action – a dribble-handoff in the middle of the floor that acts as a double-pindown for a shooter – 10 times in the Tennessee game. Look at how many different options they have, and how many ways they can get into it:

Perhaps the most frustrating part, at least if you are a member of that Purdue coaching staff, is that you’re going back to the drawing board next year.

Edwards is gone. Cline is gone. Gary is gone, too. That’s a huge chunk of their offense, the two guys they built the way they played around, not to mention the guy that was in charge of building it. What’s left is … well, it’s different.

But it’s also familiar.

Of Purdue’s five best players next season, there’s a reasonable argument to make that four of them will be bigs – Haarms, Williams, Aaron Wheeler and Evan Boudreaux – and the fifth will be a guard – Nojel Eastern – that has shot 3-for-13 from three in two years.

Bringing in Jahaad Proctor from High Point, a grad transfer lead guard, will help, and sophomore guards Sasha Stefanovic and Eric Hunter did have their moments last season. Frankly, Painter seems to like what he has in his program, and their new offensive coordinator – Micah Shrewsberry – has already spent time on Purdue’s staff, in between spending time with Brad Stevens at Butler and in Boston.

They’re in good hands.

“There’s a really big sophomore jump with talented guys,” he said, “and we had four freshmen come off the bench that will now be sophomores. I think all four of them will have good years, and Nojel and Matt will be able to expand what they’re doing.

“I think the one think we have to make sure is that we don’t try to make anyone Carsen or Caleb. Allow guys to be the best version of themselves and play through that.”

It’s Painter’s job to figure out what, exactly, “the best version of themselves” is.

Duke lands D.J. Steward, third commitment in the Class of 2020

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Duke landed their third commitment in the Class of 2020 on Wednesday, as Chicago shooting guard D.J. Steward pledged to play his college ball for Coach K.

A high-volume scorer and potent shot-maker, the 6-foot-2 Steward visited Duke over the weekend before committing.

“Me and my family were amazed on our official visit, we loved the principals of Duke, and how united Duke is as a basketball program,” Steward told Rivals.com. “At Duke I will be able to get the best of both worlds; education wise and on the court playing on the biggest stage possible night in and night out.

“I will get to chase my goals and be one step closer to achieving my dream of playing in the NBA. Also I will be able to develop as a person off the court and as a ball player while playing under the most winningest coach in history, Coach K.”

Steward joins five-star forward Jalen Johnson and five-star point guard Jeremy Roach in Duke’s 2020 recruiting class. Johnson is the quintessential small-ball four that we have seen arrive in Durham in recent classes, while Roach appears to be the heir apparent to Tre Jones at the point guard spot. Steward should fit in nicely playing off the ball for the Blue Devils, who can always use some excess shot-making.

Duke is far from done here, as they are in the mix for the likes of Walker Kessler, Ziaire Williams and Henry Coleman.

New York senator the latest to propose bill to abolish amateurism

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A second state now has legislation in the works that would make it legal for college athletes to profit off of their name, image and likeness.

Kevin Parker, a New York state senator from Brooklyn, has proposed a bill similar to California’s Fair Pay To Play act, not only giving college athletes the ability to sell their NIL rights but also requiring athletic departments to give a 15 percent share of their annual revenue to the student-athletes. California’s bill, which will go into effect in 2023 if it is signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, would make removing a student-athlete from their scholarship for accepting endorsement money illegal.

“It’s about equity,” Parker told ESPN. “These young people are adding their skill, talent and labor to these universities.

“You don’t need the shortcuts and the end-arounds because now we’re providing some real support for these student-athletes.”

New York joins the growing list of organizations that are pushing back against the NCAA’s rules on amateurism. South Carolina, Maryland, Colorado and Washington have had legislators discuss whether or not to make similar changes to the law, while Congressmen from North Carolina and Connecticut have made pushes at the federal level. Democratic Presidential candidate Anrew Yang has blasted the NCAA over their amateurism rules, while just last week, NBA agents made public the fact that they will be refusing to register for the NCAA’s proposed certification process.

Rick Pitino, Louisville settle lawsuit

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 19: Head coach Rick Pitino of the Louisville Cardinals looks on in the first half against the Michigan Wolverines during the second round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 19, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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The University of Louisville and former head coach Rick Pitino have reached a joint agreement to drop their lawsuits against each other.

The two sides “have mutually agreed to dismiss their legal claims against each other, designate his departure as a resignation and move forward,” according to a joint statement that was released by the University and Pitino. Pitino will not be paid any money as a result of this settlement, but he departure will now be classified as a resignation, effective Oct. 3rd, 2017.

Pitino had sued Louisville for somewhere around $40 million.

“For 17 years, Coach Pitino ran a program that combined excellence on the court with a commitment to the program’s student-athletes, their academic achievement, and their futures in and out of basketball,” the state said. “Nevertheless, there were NCAA infractions during his term which led to serious consequences for the university. Although these infractions may not have occurred at Pitino’s direction or with his knowledge, the problems leading to NCAA infractions happened under his leadership. We thank Coach Pitino for his years of service to the University of Louisville basketball program and wish him well.”

“Today I move on to a new chapter in my life,” a statement from Pitino reads. “Against my lawyer’s advice, I’m dropping my lawsuit with ULAA. I am very proud of the many accomplishments my teams achieved at Louisville. I’m so thankful and honored to coach such dedicated athletes. I’m also disappointed in how it ended. But as head coach I am held responsible for the actions of all team members. I still have so much passion for the game and so many goals I want to achieve. From this day forward I start my climb.”

Kentucky lands commitments from two more elite prospects

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John Calipari is getting his work done early in the 2020 recruiting class, as he added two more commitments over the weekend.

On Thursday, it was Lance Ware, a 6-foot-10 post player from Camden, New Jersey, that announced his commitment. Ware is a top 50 recruit that held offers from the likes of Michigan, Ohio State and Miami. The bigger news, however, came on Saturday afternoon, when Terrance Clarke announced that he will be enrolling at Kentucky whenever he ends his high school tenure. Clarke is currently a member of the Class of 2021, but the plan is for him to reclassify and graduate high school this year.

Clarke is a consensus top three player in 2021 – and he may be the No. 1 player in that class, depending on who you ask – and should immediately vault into the top five of the 2020 recruiting class. An athletic, versatile wing that stands 6-foot-6, Clarke is a potential lottery pick given his physical tools and the way that he projects as multi-positional defender with the ability to create off of the dribble. Ware, like Nick Richards and E.J. Montgomery before him, projects as the kind of player that will spend 2-3 years in Lexington.

Clarke and Ware join top ten prospect B.J. Boston and another top 50 recruit, Cam’Ron Fletcher, in Kentucky’s 2020 class. That’s three wings in the class with Johnny Juzang, Kahlil Whitney, Dontaie Allen and Keion Brooks currently on campus. Throw Montgomery into the mix, and that’s eight players that fit somewhere into a lineup as a wing or a face-up big man, and it seems rather unlikely that all five of the guys currently at Kentucky will leave the school this offseason. Put another way, this looks like the end of Kentucky’s pursuit of the likes of Jalen Green and Josh Christopher.

Calipari is still recruiting Cade Cunningham despite the fact that many expect Cunningham to end up at Oklahoma State, where Mike Boynton hired his brother Cannen, but Cade has skyrocketed up the recruiting rankings as he has transitioned to playing the point. Kentucky is still in the mix for a handful of other forwards, including Scottie Barnes, Isaiah Todd and Greg Brown.