Painter's persistence pays off with Edwards

Matt Painter traveled far and wide to make Vince Edwards a Boilermaker.

After a while, the drill must have felt monotonous. There were different cities and gyms, but it was always the same goal. Matt Painter traveled far and wide to make Vince Edwards a Boilermaker.

As a high school sophomore, Painter first saw Edwards play. He was sold pretty quickly. For the two-plus years after that, it was all about 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."

This was the prize for Painter. He wanted Edwards to become that program-changing player, another Robbie Hummel. For years, he made the Cincinnati forward a priority. The letter of intent faxed from Edwards on Wednesday is the long-awaited reward for Painter's hard work.

This would be one of Painter's greatest recruiting victories. The names like Mitch McGary, Gary Harris and Glenn Robinson III were starting to weigh on the Purdue program. The local kids were being poached away by the Boilermakers' Big Ten rivals.

Edwards, the skilled 6-foot-7 wing, is one of those prospects who can make a difference in year one. For the Boilermakers, he would be a perfect fit.

"His ability to triple-threat, shoot threes, drive the basketball and be able to pitch and then get to the hole from that spot is really going to give us an advantage," Painter said of Edwards. "He is one of the best rebounders that we have recruited. He really has a knack for knowing where the ball is and picking up the flight of the ball and chasing it down."

This one had to be different, for Painter's sake. It was.

It came down to another battle between Purdue and Michigan. This one went the Boilermakers' way. Edwards gave his verbal pledge on a September official visit, finally ending Painter's pursuit. Their close relationship made all the difference.

"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."

The 43-year-old Painter is an old-school guy. He doesn't use Facebook or Twitter and is in the now-rare breed that prefers face-to-face recruiting over texting and direct messaging. He enjoys the process of building those bonds.

Those countless car trips and flights, the sweating in hot gyms, it was all worth building a connection. Edwards will be a Boilermaker and Painter got his guy.

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.
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