Purdue adds 'fit' with three new Boilermakers

Coach Matt Painter is excited to coach his three newest Boilermakers, each signed into the program on Wednesday.

All the scouting, traveling and sweating in packed gyms, it's all worth it on Signing Day. For Matt Painter and Purdue, it's a day of celebration. The newest Boilermakers have signed and faxed their letters of intent.

Enter versatile guard Dakota Mathias, athletic forward Vince Edwards and long forward Jacquil Taylor, three players that could make an impact as soon as they arrive in West Lafayette.

"We're excited about this group," Painter said on Wednesday. "You always try to find guys that fit. These three guys fit and I look forward to coaching them."

The building of Purdue's 2014 class more than two years ago, starting with the skilled 6-foot-7 forward, Vince Edwards. He was the "priority" of this class. Painter began recruiting him as a high school sophomore, seeing a lot of Robbie Hummel in his game. The offer came early, and then came the persistence.

"After a while, you don't need to see him, you're convinced he's the guy for you," Painter said. "But you keep showing up to show you want him more than the other school."

That relationship went a long way, and made the difference in Edwards' recruitment. In September, he finally gave Purdue his verbal pledge.

"The relationship was like I'm already there," said Edwards of his future head coach. "He was talking to me like I'm one of his players.

"It should be like that. He's been there since day one. He's been to every game, open gym, practice. Anytime he could how me I'm the number one priority, he was there. The relationship was working and I'm looking to build on that for my next four years of college."

Mathias, a 6-foot-5 guard, was the first of this class to verbally commit, picking Purdue over offers from Boston College, Dayton, West Virginia and more. In May, he rushed ahead of his recruiting timetable to secure his future as a Boilermaker.

"This whole Purdue thing, it makes me feel at home," said Mathias.

The Boilermakers fell in love with his basketball smarts, but his versatility was the key. As a junior, Mathias averaged 25.3 points, 9.5 rebounds and 6.4 assists while shooting 62 percent from the field and making 63-of-169 three-point attempts. Mathias can do it all.

"Dakota is a very intelligent basketball player that can dribble, pass and shoot, and simply understands the game very well," Painter said. "Probably the one thing that really jumps out to me after watching him is how selfless of a player he is. Normally, when you have guys that are that way, they don't have a high skill level. He has a very high skill level."

Different from Edwards and Mathias, the recruitment of Jacquil Taylor began late. The 6-foot-9 forward was once highly recruited, but a foot injury derailed everything. Many of his offers went away and those schools interested backed off.

Purdue found itself in need of a player like Taylor, a long, athletic big man who can play the four and the five. Even with limited viewing of Taylor from the AAU circuit, the Boilermakers liked what they saw. Coach Jack Owens helped lead a strong recruitment and Purdue was able to get a steal.

"We feel very fortunate to get someone like him," Painter said. "He is a good kid who comes from a great family and he is really a hard worker. He has a skill level that can cause some matchup problems. He is just another guy that really fits our system."

Taylor feels fortunate, too. His recruitment faced great uncertainty after the injury. Purdue gave him an opportunity he couldn't pass.

"I'm just grateful that he's giving me a chance," Taylor said. "Most schools that offered me, they backed away when I got hurt. [Painter] came into the picture like a steal. I'm just glad he's even giving me a chance to play in his program."

The class isn't completed just yet. Painter said he got everything desired "besides a center." While Taylor can fill the five role, the Boilermakers still hope to find a true big man. Additionally, a point guard could be added to the mix. Purdue will continue to recruit for this class in the spring, looking to fill these important needs.

Above all in this class, Painter was searching for players who can help reshape the program's culture after a disappointing season. There were problems in the locker room and inconsistency on the court, bringing the Boilermakers to a sub-.500 record and an early exit from the CBI.

This caused Purdue to reevaluate its recruiting priorities. It was time to find work ethic with talent.

"All three of these guys have a lot of the same characteristics," said Painter. "They are hard-working guys, understand basketball, come from great families and I think when you have those characteristics, you are really going to fit in here at Purdue."

Chris Emma has covered recruiting, college athletics and professional baseball for FOX Sports Next since 2009. Emma covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Northwestern Wildcats, and currently covers the Purdue Boilermakers. A Chicago native, he resides in West Lafayette.
Facebook | Twitter| E-Mail |

Boiler Sports Report Top Stories