The distance separating those who sit in “The Paint Crew” and the Purdue's men's basketball players is little more than 94 feet in a literal sense. However, it is far more than that in a figurative one.
Unless you possess an incredible passion for the game of basketball that will carry you through months – even years – of doing nothing but practicing the game, you stand a very good chance of simply cheering on the Boilers from afar.
But if you are similar to Dru Anthrop, well, that is another matter and you'll get your chance to follow in his footsteps soon.
Purdue will be offering a shot at infamy – or at the very least an opportunity to go through the pregame layup line in front of thousands, for full-time Boilermaker students. The Boilermaker coaches will conduct tryouts for walk-on players on Oct. 15 in Mackey Arena. The session will begin at 6 a.m., so don't be late.
If a Purdue prospect wants any player to model, sure, playing in a similar vein to D.J. Byrd wouldn't hurt, but a more realistic one would be Anthrop.
At one time, Anthrop was a lot closer to being one of those “Paint Crew” members than he was a key contributor to a Big Ten contender, but that isn't where the Lafayette Central Catholic graduate finds himself today.
“I just really appreciate what he's done,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “He'll be on scholarship again this year.”
After a stellar career with the Knights, Anthrop chose to challenge himself and battle for a spot as a walk-on with the Boilermakers. He paid his own way through his first two seasons in West Lafayette, but earned a scholarship last year.
If you want to understand what perseverance is, try being a guy that has to take part in every offseason conditioning drill, every practice, every weightlifting session, only to average less than two minutes per game over eight games. That's what Anthrop did as a freshman. And then he essentially repeated that level of determination through his sophomore and junior seasons.
Not only did Anthrop's work ethic athletically carry weight with Painter, but the son of former Purdue player John Anthrop also excelled in the classroom, as he was named Academic All-Big Ten each of the past two seasons.
On the court, however, there is a glimmer of hope for Anthrop entering his final year of having fulfilled the dream of every west-central Indiana kid who ever grew up fantasizing of wearing the gold and black.
In the Boilermakers' recent four-game exhibition trip to Italy, the 6-foot point guard did what he always has. He listened to the coaches, tried his best to follow their instructions, and played as hard has he could.
“I thought Dru had a great trip,” Painter said. “He only turned the ball over three times with 12 assists and was very steady.”
Anthrop not only distributed the ball well, and will provide an option to true freshman Ronnie Johnson at the point guard spot, but Painter liked his defensive effort even better.
“I thought that he tried to do what we were asking as a coaching staff at the defensive end better than anybody on the trip,” Painter said. “I'm pleased with Dru and pleased with what he's trying to do to help our team win.”