WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue basketball’s search for an experienced point guard ahead of the 2022-23 season continues, and current options are dwindling for a program that has a huge hole to fill in the position.
The team’s top ball-handling trio – Eric Hunter Jr., Jaden Ivey and Isaiah Thompson – have bid farewell to the show since the loss to Saint Peter’s in the Sweet 16. Ivey is projected to be one of the top picks in the NBA Draft, and Thompson committed to Florida’s Gulf Coast through the transfer portal.
SEE MORE INFORMATION: Thompson Florida Gulf Coast Transfers
The highly touted Kansas State transfer Nijel Pack, an Indianapolis native and one of the top transfers of the offseason, announced his commitment to Miami Saturday afternoon over Purdue and several other high-profile programs. He made a trip to West Lafayette on April 7 before visiting the Hurricanes as well as the enemy Big Ten Ohio State.
SEE MORE INFORMATION: Kansas State Transfer Nijel Pack Commits to Miami
But the Lawrence Central High School graduate was won over to a deal with Life Wallet worth $800,000 over two years as part of a name, image and likeness deal, and chose to play for Miami. Pack was also awarded a car as part of the package.
While it’s not unheard of for athletes to be compensated with NIL agreements, it was unprecedented to see Pack’s agreement announced at the time of his signing. In the brief history of NIL agreements, no athlete has been suspended for violation.
The package’s high price tag came after the highly sought after transfer gained recognition as one of the portal’s best shooters. He was an All-Big 12 first-team honoree after leading the Wildcats 14-17 with 17.4 points per game, as well as recording 3.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game.
Now, Pack will lead the charge as point guard for the Hurricanes, a group that was good enough to reach the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament. In the meantime, Purdue Basketball should continue evaluating its options during the off-season.
Prior to the start of the 2021-22 season, Hunter was one of three veterans who informed head coach Matt Painter that it would be his final year on the show. It was a decision that allowed Purdue to recruit for the future and pursue names like Pack on the transfer portal.
However, circumstances are always subject to change. Hunter, who declared for the 2022 NBA Draft while retaining his final year of NCAA eligibility, has entered the transfer portal to keep his own options open for the upcoming season.
scroll to continue
SEE MORE INFORMATION: Hunter announces decision to enter the transfer portal
This announcement came after boiler manufacturers asked about bringing the Pack. But Thompson’s departure gives Hunter an open door to a possible return to college basketball.
As it stands, Purdue will cast real rookie point guard Braden Smith – a three-star recruit from Westfield High School – and former high school point guard Ethan Morton. Hunter appears to be the team’s best option as an experienced and reliable ball handler
The 6-foot-1, 177-pound Indianapolis native recorded 6.2 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game last season as he appeared in 37 games for Purdue. He made 19 appearances, taking over as the starting point guard at the end of the season.
But if Hunter runs out of his final year of eligibility, there’s no guarantee it will be with the Boilermakers. The demand for a Big Ten talent with four years of experience will be high, and Hunter could look to fill a role that will allow him to showcase his ability to score in basketball at a high level.
Another Purdue target, Princeton transfer Jaelin Llewellyn, committed to Clemson but recently reopened her recruitment. He was originally contacted by up to 20 university programs after accessing the portal, including Boilermakers.
Llewellyn has averaged over 15 points per game with Princeton in each of the past two seasons. He hit 44.7% from the field during the 2021-22 season, including a 38.6% mark from the 3-point line.
Iowa point guard Tyrese Hunter, the current Big 12 rookie of the year, is also on the market and will be a potential option for Purdue. However, if boiler makers bring a transfer, it will likely mean Hunter will not return.
The worst-case scenario for the team is that their top picks on the transfer portal dwindle and Hunter decides to take their talents to another program. Painter and Purdue’s basketball program could end up applying before the upcoming 2022-23 season.
Stories related to Purdue basketball
- ZACH EDEY WILL RETURN TO PURDUE FOR THE 2022-23 SEASON: Zach Edey, a 7-foot-4 center from Purdue announced Friday that he will return to the show for his junior season. He averaged 14.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.2 blocks per game during the 2021-22 season. CLICK HERE
- PURDUE 2022 RECRUITMENT CLASS DESCRIPTION: Purdue Basketball will bring four new recruits to West Lafayette next season. The recruiting class of 2022, made up of Fletcher Loyer, Braden Smith, Camden Heide and William Berg, is slated to join redshirts Trey Kaufman-Renn and Brian Waddell as freshmen. CLICK HERE
- ERIC HUNTER JR. ENTER THE TRANSFER PORTAL: Following his decision to declare for the 2022 NBA Draft while retaining his final year of college eligibility, Purdue guard Eric Hunter Jr. CLICK HERE
- JADEN IVEY STATES FOR THE 2022 NBA DRAFT: Purdue’s second guard Jaden Ivey has officially announced that he will enter the 2022 NBA Draft. He averaged 17.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game during the 2021-22 season for the Boilermakers. CLICK HERE
- BIG TEN BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT IN MINNEAPOLIS: The Big Ten Football Championship Game will be held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis through 2024. The 2023 Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament – as well as the 2024 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament – will take place at the Target Center in Minneapolis. CLICK HERE
Follow DJ Fezler on twitter
Follow Boilermakers Country on twitter and Facebook