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Purdue Basketball Summer Practice Primer: Key questions, themes and more

On3 imageby:Brian Neubert06/11/24

brianneubert Filler — The Start Of Purdue Basketball Summer Practice - 1080websharename

Tuesday afternoon, Purdue basketball returns to the practice floor formally for summer practice, up to four hours per week as permitted by the NCAA.

The freshman class has arrived, so the team that will practice all summer on campus is the team you’ll see on the floor come November, as Purdue comes off an NCAA runner-up season.

Here is a quick look around, with much more coverage to come in the days and weeks that follow.


Purdue loses Zach Edey (and the profoundly impactful Lance Jones), but returns a terrific and experienced core in guards Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer and forward Trey Kaufman-Renn, each of them now juniors and all of them likely to be All-Big Ten sort of performers this season, at worst. Smith may be the top returning point guard in America, or at least one of the top handful.

They project to be Purdue’s top three players this season, though that hierarchy is a mere projection. A very reasonable one, but a projection nonetheless.


It doesn’t matter in June, but if there is an opening-day starting lineup it figures — based on how last season ended, positional dynamics and such — to be Smith and Loyer in the backcourt, Kaufman-Renn at the center position, Camden Heide at the forward spot and Myles Colvin as the wing/small foward/third guard/3.

This would represent a smaller lineup than Purdue has been accustomed to but also a more athletic, more dynamic and more interchangeable one. Matt Painter believes this year’s personnel should be able to play small and fast or big and punishing, though young big men hold the key to the latter. Purdue was more malleable offensively last season than it gets credit for, but Jones’ speed was a key cog to that which no longer exists.

Purdue may not be quite as post-centric, but Kaufman-Renn slides into one of the best jobs in college basketball as the Boilermakers’ low-post destination player. He averaged 15 points per game over 40 minutes, on pretty limited opportunities given that the lion’s share of post touches went to Edey. Kaufman-Renn can also play more facing the basket, so some new wrinkles might come out of that modest difference.


You don’t bring in five freshmen nowadays and not have to rely on them.

Yes, there will be redshirts, a decision that will come months from now. But there are going to be rookies that Purdue will have to count on, and may feel good about counting on them.

The biggest needs lie with backcourt depth and in the post.

To the former, Gicarri Harris is going to play. He is believed to be capable of handling No. 2 point guard minutes and known to relish defending, a welcomed addition given that his size and strength beyond his years can serve as a counter balance to a starting guard tandem that runs on the smaller side.

CJ Cox, you can say much of the same about him.

To the latter point, about size, Daniel Jacobsen‘s 7-foot-3 frame, shot-blocking acumen and emerging talent could add a whole different dimension to Purdue’s frontcourt. He and returning 7-plus-footer Will Berg will have every opportunity to keep “ultimate size” cemented in Purdue’s winning formula.

Raleigh Burgess is a big, active, high-energy 4/5 hybrid who can stretch the floor, similar to what senior Caleb Furst should be able to give Purdue if he can get back in the rotation after ending last season outside of it. Don’t write Furst or Burgess off; there are minutes available at both the 4 and 5.

Rookie Jack Benter is a classic Purdue offensive piece. Whether the Boilermakers need him on the floor in the short term, that’s to be determined starting now.

NEW OFFENSE AND NEW DEFENSE will have more more to come on possible tweaks Purdue may make on offense and defense after Edey’s fingerprints were all over both units previously. He was the focal point of everything at both ends of the floor, but some quick questions to consider …

• Can Purdue find a pick-and-roll partner for Smith who can be effective enough to keep that basic offensive construct intact? Kaufman-Renn did show some flashes last season, and there’s nothing that says 5 men have to be roll men. Heide or Colvin could be in that mix, too, as could the young 7-footers, Furst or Burgess.

Remember, Braden Smith erupted as a scorer last season, as Purdue pushed him to, and it was that scoring element that really unlocked so much of Purdue’s offense. The threat Edey posed as a roll man, though, opened Smith up for a lot of those shots. It was truly a symbiotic relationship basketball-wise and a balance Purdue needs to at least partially replace.

• Rim protection on D. Jacobsen is going to be Purdue’s best-equipped shot-blocker but there’s more to protecting the rim than just blocking shots. Edey’s real-life impact exceeded his statistical impact by a wide margin. Purdue won’t have that. There’s no way around rim protection for this team having to begin on the perimeter, containing the dribble and pressuring the basketball. Purdue has two big and athletic wings now in Heide and Colvin, making this as fluid a lineup as Purdue has had. Throw Harris and Brian Waddell in there, too.

• Rebounding: Without Edey and Mason Gillis, rebounding becomes a legit concern. On this team, everyone will have to rebound, and summer might be an opportunity to establish rebounding culture, so to speak. No way around it: Heide and Colvin are going to have to rebound, Kaufman-Renn is going to have to keep throwing his body around like he always has, and scheme might need to come into play. A 7-footer emerging wouldn’t hurt either.

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