West Lafayette, Ind. — The Purdue basketball program began its official preseason practices on Tuesday, kicking off the team’s 2022-23 campaign.
The Boilermakers were 28-9 last season and are coming off a Sweet 16 appearance, which was the fourth in the last five years under head coach Matt Painter. After knocking off Yale and Texas in the NCAA tournament, the team’s season ended with a 67-64 loss to St. Peter’s.
This year’s team returns only two starters in center Zach Idey and forward Mason Gillis, both this season. Purdue’s 71-game comeback streak is the fewest since the 2018-19 team returned just 41 games a year ago.
“A lot of people focus on what you’ve lost and what’s good on the people you have,” Painter says. “You have to let it happen organically.” They’re finding out who can guard, who can take care of the basketball, who can play with who – all those little things.”
Iday is one of three players returning last season, averaging 14 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 1.0 blocks. He is the only returning player to average less than 28.0 minutes per game, compared to an average of 19.0 minutes a year ago.
After center Treveon Williams took off for the NBA, Idey will be in line for the biggest role of his career with the Boilermakers. The second-team All-Big Ten selection and All-America honoree is now the top player on a team that lost a trio of seniors and star guard Jaden Ivey.
However, due to the injury he suffered during the team’s first official practice, he was away from the field and could not participate with the team for a week. Purdue will return to practice on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
“Just go on,” said Painter. “It’s like life, the next guy up. If he can’t play or gets in foul trouble, or he’s injured, or something happens, the next guys have to be able to play. So move on, you’re not doing it right. Talk about it a lot. Obviously, he’s going to be back there. Hopefully, but it’s part of the competition.
The Boilermakers brought in the 29th-ranked recruiting class in the nation, including guard Fletcher Lauer from Homestead High School in Fort Wayne, Ind. And forward Camden Heide from Wazata High School in Minneapolis showed up. Both were four-star recruits according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
Along with guard Braden Smith and 7-foot-2 center Will Berg, the freshmen were having their official college workouts.
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“One thing I really like about the guys is that they pay attention to the players, not just the coaches,” Gillis said. “The more I know they’re listening, the more I can talk to them.”
Smith, a three-star guard from Westfield, Ind., figures to be part of the rotation in the team’s backcourt this offseason along with senior David Jenkins Jr., who transferred from Utah.
Jenkins has made 323 career 3-pointers, which ranks third among active players in college basketball behind Detroit Mercy’s Antoine Davis (429) and Liberty’s Darius McGee (366).
Entering his sixth collegiate season, Jenkins spent time at South Dakota State and UNLV. He averaged 14.9 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists in his career.
“He can really put the ball in the basket. He can really score,” Painter said. “He’s had a lot of different experiences. This is his fourth school in six years. Even though he followed the coach in his first move, he’s transferred to those schools, but we’re glad we have him. I think he can really help us. Give us that scoring penalty.”
Purdue basketball will have an exhibition game against Truman State in less than a week.
As the team enters official practices this fall, the main focus will be working on fundamentals in the coming weeks.
“People have been playing two-handed touch until you get into full drills and stuff,” Painter said. “And in the Big Ten, they don’t play two-handed touch.” We have to be able to accept the physicality of the game. This is more of a mindset than anything else, I think this is a very important piece.
“It’s just looking at the details and trying to be as fundamentally sound as possible. I know it sounds like hockey, but fundamentally sound, disciplined teams have a lot of fun on a regular basis.”
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