Flashback to nine days ago, the start of the early-signing period, where Purdue coach Matt Painter met with the media. He was praising the three newest Boilermakers—Dakota Mathias, Vince Edwards, and Jacquil Taylor—but didn't shy away from how this class was incomplete. He needed to find a true big man, but this had been no easy task.
Purdue swung and missed at several of its top center prospects. Many believed Taylor, more of a stretch-four forward, would fill the role of center. This search was likely to drag into the spring as Painter would hope a big man would land on his lap. This happened a lot faster than anyone could've expected.
Not long after Painter's media session, the news came out that four-star center Isaac Haas would not sign with Wake Forest, the school he pledged to in September. Painter was ready to make a push for the kid who was once the Boilermakers' top center prospect. On Friday, he missed his first regular-season practice ever as Purdue's head coach, all to be with Haas.
"I felt it was that important for our program," Painter said.
If Painter didn't make this move, it's likely that Haas would have ended up at UAB, the local school which sent its entire staff to see him on Friday. But Painter pulled it off, proving how badly Purdue wanted him. Haas pledged to Purdue on Monday and faxed in his letter of intent on Wednesday. The Boilermakers got their big man.
"I think he's got a chance to be a really good player," Painter said. "It was a really unique situation for us."
The final piece of the puzzle
So, Purdue got its center. But that's not the end of this 2014 class. Painter, in his signing day media session, also highlighted the need for another guard. So what are the options?
There isn't a whole lot out there, but so much can change in the spring. A couple interesting names to watch are P.J. Thompson, the three-star point guard from Brebeuf Jesuit Prep in Indianapolis, and John Crosby, a three-star point guard from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. While Thompson is the more likely option, Painter will have to consider Crosby and any other candidates for an offer.
Again, it's likely this will run into the spring when transfers and fifth-year seniors become options. Anything else can happen between now and then, because the game of recruiting is so unpredictable.
As Purdue finalizes its 2014 class, it's time to turn the focus to the 2015 group. Much of the true evaluation comes during the AAU circuit of next summer, but Painter has already set his sights on several of these top prospects.
The Boilermakers have offered names like Glynn Watson, Jalen Coleman, Henry Ellenson, Hyron Edwards, Jordan Ash, Matt Milon and Davon Dillard. These are their top targets for this class and will be the focus during the next few months.
Keep an eye on…
A star in the making is ready for a breakout season, and he's right in Purdue's backyard. It's West Lafayette High School product Nai Carlisle, the super-talented point guard whose father is Duane Carlisle, Purdue's Director of Sports Performance.
Coach Painter has to offer Carlisle before he blows up, otherwise the hometown advantage is a waste. Carlisle will draw interest from all across the Big Ten before this season is over, so Painter and Purdue would be wise to act quickly.