Originally posted on Boiled Sports  |  Last updated 4/15/14
Late last weekend, the news of Trevor Thompson’s commitment to Thad Matta broke…and in its wake there was gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands. Thompson’s decision has some implications, some might not be obvious on the surface. Some Purdue fans on the KHC board are convinced that Trevor Thompson not committing to Purdue is an indicator of a bad state of things in West Lafayette. I can see the point, honestly, but I’d argue, the worst sign of the state of the program has come in early March of the past two seasons, not in April when a transfer decides to play elsewhere. Purdue’s not making the tournament twice in a row indicates a pretty grim state of affairs as we all know…everything else is window dressing. Purdue has gotten recruiting wins in the past three years, but a developmental program being like everyone else on the current landscape of college basketball, as it hemorrhages players is what’s killing Painter and Purdue right now, not the loss of Trevor Thompson’s ilk. But what else does Thompson’s commitment to play for Thad Matta say? Let’s take a look, shall we? First, it says that, in spite of Painter having a meeting with Thompson a few weeks ago off campus…and meeting with the player’s Mom at home, Purdue still couldn’t even get a visit. This comes in spite of Thompson being a guy who indicated that he was a bit of a Purdue lean upon his exit of VTech. That’s not good. I’ll be honest, I don’t think there are a ton of parents that love Painter’s honesty-first recruiting tactics. People love a party…and parents are people. I believe the stories of Painter telling it like it is- that he wants kids who will work hard, play defense, play within a system, and play as part of a team are all true. I also believe 98%* of the coaches in America think the same way…but very few use that as their pitch. Instead, they might talk about how they focus on how a player reminds them of another player they used to coach…or speak about the rabid fan base and shiny facilities. But if you’re like me and you think parents don’t love the nuts & bolts-style approach to Purdue’s basketball recruiting, what do you think the 16, 17 and 18 year olds think about it? This is probably a shock to you, but I’ve never been recruited by Matt Painter or anyone else to play college basketball. After all, it would’ve been odd for Painter to recruit a guy that he’s only a few years younger than to play for him. But, recruiting is sales at the end of the day. Some Purdue fans, many of you visiting this site today, have chosen to complain about what Purdue is…and use it as a crutch to why the program is in the state it’s in today. I don’t buy that line of thinking at all. Purdue has always had to compete against great programs in close proximity…AND has always been in a hotbed of talent. Purdue fans didn’t make excuses five years ago, and shouldn’t start doing it now. Unless there is a drastic, unforeseen change in the near future, Purdue won’t attract five star talent year-in, year-out. BUT, plenty of good…no, great, programs in college basketball use development of talent and finding the right guy, as the lifeblood to their program. I’ll let you think about who they are just as morning mental calisthenics (hint: there are multiple within the B1G alone). Another under-the-surface indicator, that Thompson’s commitment might signal is that aOSU is scrambling for answers. Sure, this is a program that was in the top-10 in this season…BUT, aOSU fans are grumbling loudly about Matta. I don’t get it…but I don’t root for pro sports in Columbus either. Matta is dealing with attrition just as Painter is (for different reasons)…and now has his second transfer of this young off-season. The good news for him and Bucknuts is that they’re landing targets at a rate of 100% right now. The bad news for the scarlet and gray is they’re no longer leaning solely on the five-star mothers that Matta’s always been able to bring in…AND, this season, in spite of making the tournament, they underachieved. Finally, Thompson’s commitment to aOSU is an indicator of the long-standing delusions of grandeur of the IU fan base…and by IU’s fan base, I of course am referring to their hometown media. Whether it’s the Indy Star or the guys that cover IU on Rivals or FoxSorts or Scout…IU’s beat writers get into a lather, much like the general public when a player even mentions IU as a possibility. BOTH of aOSU’s transfer signees this off-season were all but wrapped up to live in Bloomington next year according to multiple, rock-solid Twitter media sources a few weeks ago. Now, IU is off to the next done-deal without even getting a sniff from these guys. I write this not as a complete slam on IU, but more as another cautionary tale of the new media world that we’re living in. Twitter rumors spread like brush fires in Southern California…It’s up to you whether or not you believe them. Sure, I do believe that there’s some synergy that can happen in the recruiting process from social media. BUT, the IU machine (as one Purdue fan called it on KHC) can’t deny facts that the honeymoon with the forehead is clearly over…and his magic touch with recruits might need another injection of energy**. The adage that you can’t lose what you never had is especially pertinent here with Trevor Thompson. Purdue NEVER had Thompson even close to being on the roster. I’ll admit that I wanted him to come to God’s country because he would have helped create much-needed depth in the chasm that was left by Jay Simpson’s early-retirement. But I don’t think he was a program-changer. I hope Painter can land a transfer or two in the coming weeks. Maybe now that Matta’s wrapped up a few and will no longer be pursuing them, Painter will be able to land the kid from WVU that’s looking to be closer to home. The problem now is that UM and Beilein (who’s hit nothing but recruiting home runs in the last four years) seems to be getting aggressive with Harris since Stauskas and Robinson are both on their way out of Ann Arbor. Note: University of Wisconsin continues to chug along…even in the face of whispers that they might have a few guys leave in the wake of their deep tourney run, Bo’s boys stick around, do their job and win…win…win. It seems that recruiting basketball players to Wisconsin would be a tough sell…and winning with a few four-stars and a bunch of role players would be difficult. Not the case for the Birdman (Ryan). Dammit…I just gave away my answers to your morning mental calisthenics. AJ Hammons has about two weeks left on his clock to decide whether he’ll be back…transfers will all have their decisions of where they’ll land over the next four weeks (or so)…so there could be some positive buzz coming from West La La in the near future. Hopefully there is, anyway.   *number based on guessing. **read as “bag of cash”
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