Welcome to The Sports Bank’s fourth annual college basketball season preview series where we break 111 teams in the 111 days leading up to the opening tip-off of the 2013-2014 season. We will rank the 84 power conference teams (including the new Big East and American Athletic Conferences) and top 27 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
The Purdue Boilermakers streak of six straight trips to the NCAA Tournament ended last season as they finished with a losing record for the first time since Matt Painter’s first year as head coach. The Boilers should be slightly improved this year but with another stacked Big Ten Conference, a return to the tourney is in sight but far from a given.
Last Season: T-7th, 8-10 in Big Ten, 16-18 overall
Predicted Big Ten Finish: 7th
Projected Depth Chart
C: A.J. Hammons (So)/Travis Carroll (Sr)
PF: Errick Peck (Sr)/Jay Simpson (Fr)
G/F: Raphael Davis (So)/Basil Smotherman (Fr)
SG: Terone Johnson (Sr)/Kendall Stephens (Fr)
PG: Ronnie Johnson (So)/Sterling Carter (Sr)/Bryson Scott (Fr)
Gone: F-D.J. Byrd, G-Dru Anthrop, PF-Donnie Hale (transfer), PG-Anthony Johnson (transfer), F/C-Sandi Marcius (transfer-DePaul), PF-Jacob Lawson (transfer-Appalachian State)
The Johnson brothers will lead the charge for Painter this year. Terone emerged as the Purdue Boliermakers’ go-to scorer last season while little bro Ronnie did a nice job in being handed the keys to the offense as a true freshman. Neither guy shoots it exceptionally well from deep and becoming more consistent and reliable outside threats would be a huge plus for Purdue since they lose their top three-point shooter from last year, D.J. Byrd.
The other major piece for Purdue is emerging seven-footer A.J. Hammons. The size and ability to protect the rim are already there (Hammons finished second in the Big Ten in blocked shots a year ago as a freshman) but now the big fella must become more aggressive on the glass and polish his low post game to really take the next step in his development.
Purdue lost four players to transfer this off-season and bring in five new faces including a pair of graduate student transfers in Cornell’s Erick Peck and Sterling Carter of Seattle who add experience and nice pieces around the Johnson’s and Hammons. At 6-6, Peck figures to take over Byrd’s role as the undersized power forward who possesses a nice face-up game. Carter adds defense, experience, and needed three-point shooting off the bench.
Another player to keep an eye on is wing Raphael Davis who spent half of his freshman campaign in the starting line-up. He is a physical off-guard who suffered his share of ups and downs during his first college season but should be more comfortable and bigger threat for the Boilers this year. A trio of freshmen will be worked into the mix at guard as well led by Kendall Stephens who is a lengthy wing capable of catching fire from deep.
Due to the transfers of Hale, Lawson, and Marcius, there aren’t a whole lot of options inside for Painter which will be an area of concern. Jay Simpson is a redshirt freshman who missed the final 24 games of last year due to a foot injury. Travis Carroll is the other post player on the roster but he is really nothing more than an energy reserve to allow Hammons some time to rest.
The Big Ten will get six teams, possibly seven into the Big Dance. Purdue, Illinois, and Minnesota figure to be on that cut-off line. For the Boilermakers to emerge from that group, they will need big seasons from the Johnson brothers and Hammons while getting enough production from their complementary role players.
Player to Watch: A.J. Hammons
Any time a seven-footer shows any sense of skill as a freshman, he catches the attention of NBA Scouts. That’s what happened last year with Hammons and if he impresses even more so this season, it might be his last one in West Lafayette as it seems like he would be a first round lock for the 2014 NBA Draft.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/28 vs. Oklahoma State (Old Spice Classic)
11/29 vs. Butler/Washington State (Old Spice Classic)
12/1 vs. Memphis/Siena/LSU/St. Joseph’s (Old Spice Classic)
12/4 vs. Boston College (Big Ten/ACC Challenge)
12/14 vs. Butler (in Indianapolis)
12/22 at West Virginia
OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#56 Saint Mary’s
#60 Florida Gulf Coast
#64 Florida State
#66 N.C. State
#67 Kansas State
#70 Miami FL
#72 Texas A&M
#73 Long Beach State
#76 Indiana State
#77 Georgia Tech
#84 Washington State
#86 Oregon State
#87 Louisiana Tech
#89 Wake Forest
#90 Central Florida
#95 Seton Hall
#97 George Mason
#99 Penn State
#101 West Virginia
#102 South Florida
#103 Mississippi State
#105 South Carolina
#106 Texas Tech
#108 Virginia Tech
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu to Milwaukee. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet , AND the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft. (Yup, nearly 3peat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks