Young Boilers making early impact

Purdue's freshmen have provided a big boost early into this season.

WEST LAFAYETTE – In the Boilermakers' blowout of Eastern Illinois, Purdue's freshmen paved the way with more than half of the scoring output. Getting such a good turnout of contributions from the young players is a good sign that Purdue is making the right moves in recruitment.

All four freshmen contributed in a big way. There was Kendall Stephens' thre- pointer sparks, Basil Smotherman's accuracy from the field, Bryson Scott's team-leading 14 points, and Jay Simpson's ability to sustain intensity off the bench. Wednesday's game was a clear indication that Purdue's young players are making strides to overcome the college basketball learning curve.

Sophomore point guard Ronnie Johnson recognized the talent of his freshmen teammates.

"They have been bringing a lot of help not only in the games, but also by adding competition to practice and that's why coach painter recruited these guys," he said. "They've been scoring and playing good defense."

Gradually becoming a presence on the court, Bryson Scott understands that he has a lot to learn from his teammate Ronnie Johnson as well as his coaches.

"I had to come in and play point guard and that's not what I'm used to," Scott said. "I'm trying to learn as much as I can from Ronnie and his experiences from last year and Coach Painter and the coaches to just take it game by game to try to learn what I can."

Kendall Stephens had a rough game on Sunday and a slow start to the game against Eastern Illinois, but was able to overcome his few missed shots in the beginning to finish with 11 points.

"You're going to have nights when your shots don't fall but the biggest thing in order to stay on the court is you got to be discipline on defense and just stay confident," said Stephens.

Coach Matt Painter knows that having a weapon like Stephens in close games will be of great benefit to his Boilermakers.

"Anytime a guy can shoot the ball as well as he (Stephens) can, it can be a game changer," Painter said. "He didn't affect the game at all for twenty minutes, then all of the sudden in a two minute span he made three shots and was able to just open up the game. If you're in a tight game, having a guy like that can be a game changer."

Purdue's Basil Smotherman and Jay Simpson also made notable contributions to the win. Smotherman was efficient with his scoring opportunities not missing any of his attempted shots and Simpson was able to maintain an aggressive offensive atmosphere when coming off of the bench.

When subbing in for starter A.J. Hammons, Simpson had an athletic put back to add to his total of 8 points helping the Boilers to victory.

"I just wanted to keep up the intensity," Simpson said.

The freshmen continue to make their mark in games and at practices giving great hope for the seemingly bright future of Purdue basketball.


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