Eli Boettger | @boettger_eli | 04/06/20
Purdue basketball received an unexpected blow Monday afternoon with Matt Haarms putting his name in the transfer portal, all but ending his time as a Boilermaker.
Haarms — one of the nation’s tallest players at 7-3 — started in 40 of his 102 appearances over the past three seasons while averaging 20.1 minutes per game. The Netherlands product tallied 8.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game this season while recording at least two blocks a night for the third consecutive year.
Expected to be a key asset on the 2020-21 Purdue roster, Haarms’ decision to leave the university “blindsided” Matt Painter’s coaching staff, according to Stadium’s Jeff Goodman. Haarms is the first player to transfer out of Purdue since reserves Eden Ewing and Jacquil Taylor left the program in 2018.
“Just believe I needed a change of scenery to take my game to the next level, don’t have anything but positive things to say about Purdue but I just felt like it was time to move on,” Haarms told ESPN’s Jeff Borzello.
Purdue stumbled this past season to a 16-15 record, including a 9-11 mark in the Big Ten. The 15 losses were the most by the Boilermakers since 2014, which was the program’s most recent NCAA Tournament absence.
With Jahaad Proctor and Evan Boudreaux’s eligibility already set to expire this spring, Painter’s group has plenty of question marks moving forward. The Boilers ranked 261st nationally in effective field goal percentage this past season, severely lacking a consistent perimeter threat that had previously helped the program in recent years.
As for the frontcourt, Haarms’ vacancy means Trevion Williams will likely see a heavy bump in playing time in ’20-21. Williams led the teams in points per game (11.5) and rebounds per game (7.6) as a sophomore while starting 22 times. His signature performance was a 36-point, 20-rebound effort in a January loss at Michigan.
With Williams occupying a traditional post role and Haarms acting as a finisher and rim protector, both players would have been forced to sacrifice a chunk of playing time in next season’s rotation. Haarms’ departure could be at least partially explained by wanting to find a bigger role with a championship-contending team. Several teams have already been rumored to have interest in Haarms’ services.
Names to watch in the ’20-21 Purdue frontcourt are Emmanuel Dowuona and Zach Edey. Dowouna played sparingly as a freshman, appearing in nine games for a total of 31 minutes after redshirting during the ’18-19 season. He is listed at 6-10/230 and was rated a four-star by most recruiting services out of high school.
Edey, like Haarms, is another 7-3 big man. The incoming freshman is 40 pounds heavier than Haarms, checking in as a three-star recruit and the No. 60 overall center in the 2020 class. There has been plenty of speculation about possibly redshirting Edey, though Haarms’ departure could alter these plans. As it stands, Williams, Douwouna and wing Aaron Wheeler are the only Boilers who are 6-9 or taller.
Matt Painter’s staff will be busy this offseason figuring out how to improve upon a disappointing season. The Boilers weren’t expecting to have to do it without Haarms, but there is no looking back now.
Eli Boettger is a college basketball writer and founder of HeatCheckCBB.com. He has previously worked for Sporting News, DAZN and USA TODAY SMG.
Boettger’s content has been featured by Bleacher Report, NBC Sports, FiveThirtyEight, Yahoo Sports, Athletic Director University, Washington Post, Illinois Law Review and Notre Dame Law Review, among other publications. Boettger is also a current USBWA member and Rockin’ 25 voter.