Recruiting is a funny thing. It can bring out the best and worst in people. At one point, fans are jumping for joy after a big commitment. The next, they’re demanding a coach’s job. It’s a brutal aspect of college sports that can turn on a dime.
For the last few months, Purdue has been firmly entrenched on the bad side of the divide. Even after a resounding 47-22 record over the last few seasons, Purdue couldn’t capitalize on any of its key 2017 targets. Whether it was Xavier Tillman picking Michigan State or Kyle Young picking Butler, it’s been a rough go for Boilermaker fans.
Things turned around on Thursday.
In a surprise announcement, 2017 prospect Matthew Haarms committed to Purdue. He joined the Boilermakers over offers from Colorado, Vanderbilt, and Washington State, among others. That might not be an elite offer list, but it does include respectable Colorado and Vanderbilt programs that both made the NCAA Tournament last season.
Rivals lists Haarms at an impressive 7-foot-2 and 225 pounds, which obviously should prepare him well for the next level. He comes out of Wichita, Kansas, and figures to be one of the most talented players out of the Sunflower State this year.
The 2017 big man joins Purdue with limited evaluations from the scouting services. He’s listed as a three-star prospect by Rivals, but has yet to receive a star rating on any of the other sites. Rivals also hasn’t given him a positional or state rating at this point. There isn’t a ton to glean from these sites regarding what Haarms can add to the Boilermakers.
Evaluation of tape on Haarms does yield interesting results, though. While his impressive 7-foot-2 stature would imply that he’s a physical player who does his work in the post, Haarms is far from a traditional big man. He plays more like Pau Gasol than Marc Gasol, and has the ability to handle the ball and shoot it from outside the paint.
With his size and skill set, Haarms will become the latest in a growing list of talented centers to join Purdue’s roster. He will likely project as a backup to Isaac Haas during the 2017-’18 season, but should gain early playing time. If he can hit the ground running, Purdue should be in great position to maintain its loaded frontcourt for at least a few more years.
As mentioned, Haarms became the first player in Purdue’s 2017 recruiting class with his commitment. The program has really struggled to close on other top prospects, so this is a big way (both literally and figuratively) to get things started.
Purdue will now have to focus on adding guards and wings to surround Haarms. With two to five scholarships likely to open after this season, expect at least three or four more players to end up in the class. Some of Purdue’s top remaining targets on the board are Nojel Eastern, Jacob Epperson, and Sterling Manley. It should be an interesting next few months.
The good news is that regardless of how things trend for Purdue on the recruiting trail over the next few months, the program finally got a commitment in its 2017 class. Matt Painter and his staff now have a colossal player to build around inside and appear to be in good shape to put together a solid class, even if things didn’t go all that well at first.