Caleb Swanigan is playing it smart.
Was there any doubt?
Purdue's Big Ten MVP forward will participate in this week's NBA Combine in Chicago. He's one of 67 players to receive invitations. The Combine features five-on-five games, plus strength and agility drills. The basketball action is set for Thursday and Friday.
After that, Swanigan will work out with NBA teams, interview and get all information necessary to decide his future. He has until May 24 for a final decision.
Yes, the former Indiana Mr. Basketball out of Homestead will probably remain in the NBA draft and not return for his junior season. Boiler coach Matt Painter recruits for that possibility.
Still, for those who think Swanigan is leaving Purdue hanging by not announcing now, the short answer is no. The longer answer is … well … no.
There is no reason to rush. Swanigan's father, Roosevelt Barnes, is a sports agent who provides invaluable insight into the process. Swanigan will take advantage of the time to make as big an impression as possible with NBA teams, weigh all the options — including the thought of returning for what could be a national championship run — and then decide.
Swanigan projects as a late first-round or early second-round pick (anywhere from 25th to the mid 30s), although that could change depending on the next few weeks. He could move higher. He could drop.
At this point, given he went through this last year, there are no surprises. NBA teams know what Swanigan offers — a fiercely determined player who goes hard all the time and who always — always — rebounds.
That he does not overwhelm with athleticism or leaping ability does not mean he couldn't be a solid pro player.
Returning for another college season likely won't improve his draft status much. Not after a year in which he earned All-America honors, averaged 18.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists. He set a Big Ten record with 28 double-doubles.
How much can anyone improve those numbers?
There is always the risk of injury, and that is something for Swanigan to consider, although it doesn't have to be a deciding factor.
Still, Swanigan could come back, graduate (he's on pace to do that in less than four years), win national player-of-the-year honors, lead Purdue to another Big Ten title, then the Final Four, and perhaps more. There is a lot to be said about another big-time college season over, say, a reserve NBA role or D-League time.
Finally, the NBA draft projects as being weaker next year, which could help improve his selection, which translates into more money.
Ultimately, Swanigan's dream is to play in the NBA. Whether it happens this season or in future ones, it's coming.
Meanwhile, two other Boilers — forward Vincent Edwards and center Isaac Haas — also are in the NBA draft. Neither was invited to the Combine, and neither projects to be drafted. Both, however, will work out with NBA teams, get invaluable feedback and build relationships that might lead to future opportunity.
While they could take a shot at signing as a free agent or playing overseas, figure both will return. That means Purdue, regardless of what happens with Swanigan, will make a strong run at a second Big Ten title.
MACKEY ARENA UPGRADE
How big a difference can technology — as in video boards — make in Mackey Arena's already intimidating basketball atmosphere?
We're about to find out.
In conjunction with the arena's 50th anniversary, Purdue will install a series of new LED video boards. It will consist of a four-sided board above mid court that will include a halo video ring, four statistic boards at each corner and two ribbon boards on the north and south ends.
Total cost — $1.9 million, all raised through gifts.
“Thanks to the generosity of some very special John Purdue Club members, we will be able to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Mackey Arena in a fitting manner,” Purdue athletics director Mike Bobinski said in a release. “The new video boards will bring even more energy and engagement to our already tremendous game day atmosphere, which will both benefit our basketball programs and further entertain our fans.”
Purdue had strong performances from both the men's and women's basketball programs this past season. The men won the Big Ten regular season title and advanced to the Sweet 16. The women won 23 games and reached the second round of the NCAA tourney, losing to No. 2 seed Notre Dame in overtime.
“With the success of both basketball programs this past season, we thought it was important to ask our fundraising staff to move aggressively on this project to build on our teams' momentum and help them achieve even greater success,” Bobinski said.
Specifically, the center-hung display will feature four 20-feet wide by 13-feet tall six-millimeter LED video boards. The halo ring will measure 109-feet in circumference by three-feet tall with a 10-millimeter LED display.
The statistics boards will measure 20-feet wide by 11.5-feet tall each. The four ribbon boards will by 50-feet wide by 3-feet tall each.
Mackey's current center-hung display has four video boards measuring 13.5-feet by 7.75-feet each. Its three statistics boards are 19-feet by 5-feet each.
Purdue will continue fund raising for future Mackey Arena projects.
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