Purdue Boilermakers Power Forward Caleb Swanigan came to West Lafayette with much fanfare and this season you’re seeing exactly why.
The former McDonald’s All-American and blue chip 5-star prospect from Ft. Wayne Indiana is our pick to win B1G Player of the Year. Biggie Swanigan has been dominant with a capital D.
He figures prominently in the discussion of national player of the year award candidates.
Depending on what Mackey Arena entrance he takes on a given day, he might pass the John Wooden statue. Caleb Swanigan plays his home games at the address 900 John Wooden Drive.
Thus it’s only fitting that he could also take home the Wooden Award this April. The Wooden and the Naismith awards are the two honors going to the nation’s best overall college basketball player. The only major difference between the two “Hoops Heisman Trophies” is who votes on them.
Biggie notched his 15th double-double of the season last night in the Boilers 91-68 utter destruction of the Illinois Fighting Illini with 22 points and 10 rebounds. His 15 double-doubles are the most in the country and are tied for eighth most by a Purdue player in school history. Swanigan appears to be making what is colloquially known as “the leap” as he’s already surpassed his scoring this year (350) from last year (348).
His 15 double-doubles are the most by a Big Ten player in the last five seasons.
Perhaps what impressed Purdue Coach Matt Painter the most last night however was how Caleb Swanigan responded and rebounded from such a slow start in the game. Purdue built up a huge lead, right out of the gates, and they did it before Biggie had even scored.
“That’s a great sign as a player, when things don’t go your way,” Painter said.
“I think he was one for six in the first half and ends up seven for fifteen for the game. He knocked down a couple perimeter shots, one was a three during that run in the second half. But it is good to see guys have some struggles and then still have success in a game.”
“Sometimes guys can’t do that, especially younger guys. You know some guys struggle with being able to recover and be a productive player throughout the course of a game, they have to wait until next game. It was nice seeing that from him.”
Swanigan on his individual “half time adjustments”-
“I was just being soft in the first half missing lay-ups. They were the same shots I was missing in the first half.”
In addition to scoring and rebounding, Caleb Swanigan has found a better perimeter game this season. He’s extending his shooting range, as last season’s “Biggie Biggie biggie can’t you see? Your fans don’t want you shooting the three” is now a thing of the past.
Swanigan is shooting 17-of-36 (.472) from 3-point range for the season, after shooting a Derrick Rose like 29% from distance last season. So with Biggie putting together such a dominant season, and making all these improvements, what is the proverbial price of his NBA Draft stock today?
Caleb Swanigan NBA Draft Mocksourcing
We searched all the NBA mock drafts that we could find, and found only six or seven that include a second round. Swanigan did not appear in the first round of any, but did appear in the second round of these four:
Draft Express #52 Atlanta Hawks
NBA Draft Net #45 Houston Rockets
Tankathon (LOVE the name of this site!) #45 Charlotte Hornets
Draft Site #55 Boston Celtics
Given his dominance this season (he’s really forming a fearsome front court duo with Isaac Haas) we thought he’d show up somewhere in every mock draft. We also expected him to be a first round prospect, but that’s clearly not the case.
So what are his drawbacks? Well, first and foremost he really needs to cut those turnovers down. A big averaging over three per game is tremendous cause for concern because they’re not handling the ball as much as guards, and hence have fewer opportunities for TOs.
Biggie had issues with TOs last year, and his avg. has actually gotten worse this season (from 2.8 to 3.3 per game this season). It would also help his cause to get after it more on the defensive end too. Especially so at a place like Purdue where playing tenacious defense is embedded within the program’s culture.
You can’t be a starting forward on a Big Ten team and average 0.2 blocked shots per game, like he did last season; totally unacceptable. To his credit though, he’s improved that number to 0.8 this year.
Despite the shortcomings, I wouldn’t expect Swanigan to stay all four years at Mackey Arena. He tested the waters this past offseason and gained some invaluable feedback, which he is now putting to good use.
It’s not outside the realm of possibility that he’s 2-and-done to the NBA as he’s already got a man size body, and his continued conditioning will be critical. He had a big body in high school too, and that’s obviously been well chronicled. (You hear the “300 pounds” line during every single Purdue telecast)
Overall, Swanigan seems best served by continuing to work extremely hard, just as he has been doing his entire career, and returning for a third season. Look at at his career trajectory thus far, imagine if he gets more finely conditioned, and then, when he’s three and out to the NBA, he could be a lottery pick.
It’s a very Disco Stu type situation, if he developed in his third season, along the same arc Caleb Swanigan has in his second.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, partnered with FOX Sports Engage Network. and News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, Bold and the Chicago Tribune’s RedEye publication, appears regularly as a guest on CGTN America, WGN CLTV News and KOZN 1620 The Zone.