After much internet teeth-gnashing over the past 48 hours regarding Ronnie Johnson’s status with the Boilermakers, the team made it official today and announced RonJon will be transferring.
Ronnie, the younger brother of Terone who just finished up his four years of eligibility, has played two seasons for the Boilers and been a high-minutes guy all along. He has been a double-digit scorer since he got to Purdue, averaging 10.3 ppg his freshman year and 10.8 this past season. Ronnie averaged 4.1 assists and 3.4 rebounds in year one and saw those drop to 3.7 and 2.8 as a sophomore.
Not a whole lot of concrete info is out there yet as to why Ronnie wants to leave. He came to Purdue to play with his brother and for Matt Painter. One has to assume that those are two big factors in his leaving, too. Terone’s eligibility is up and Coach Painter has been recently drumming guys out of town, it seems. It appears to be guys who Coach Painter feels aren’t team guys or are guys who aren’t ready to commit all-in to the program – guys who Painter indirectly calls selfish. I’m not saying this is what Ronnie was for certain – maybe he just doesn’t like it here and wants to be elsewhere. That’s entirely possible. But this is another significant loss for Purdue’s program, if for no other reason than the optics of it.
It’s another blow to the recruiting history of Matt Painter. While Ronnie’s class looked to be a rebound after some mediocrity, it now could have all but one guy (Ray Davis) gone if Hammons decides to go pro. Sure, one of those is Jay Simpson who had to stop playing due to his heart ailment and there’s obviously no way that’s on Painter, but one can’t help but shake the feeling of the walls crumbling around this program. It also begins to shine even more light on Coach Painter’s transfer issues. It’s not just the past two seasons.
2008 class – John Hart, LewJack, Ryne Smith. Hart left the program.
2009 class – Bade, Barlow, Byrd, Marcius. All but Byrd left the program.
2010 class – Carroll, Anthony Johnson, Terone Johnson. Anthony left the program.
2011 class – Hale and Lawson. Both left the program.
2012 class – Davis, Hammons, Johnson, Simpson. As noted, Johnson has left and Hammons may go early.
Sure, every program has its defections. But Purdue, as we’ve discussed, has to make their 3 and 4 star guys work in order to compete because there isn’t a never-ending flow of blue chips coming in the door, in basketball or football. So this one hurts.
That said, we’ve reiterated before that we really do prefer to have guys at Purdue who really want to be Boilermakers. If you don’t want to be here, don’t be here. And let’s be honest – Purdue finished in last place in the conference this season. It would be kind of silly to lament our lot in life and ask how the team is going to survive this – there’s no place to go but up in the standings.
Purdue will now have three open scholarship slots for next season (I believe) and will have five freshman on the roster. There had been talking of redshirting at least one of them, but with only ten scholarship players on the roster (nine of AJ Hammons leaves for the NBA), I don’t know if that will be possible. I would assume Coach Painter will troll for some fifth-year diamonds in the rough like Sterling Carter and Errick Peck were this season.
Perhaps this is an opportunity for the incoming freshman class to bond like the Hummel-Moore-Johnson class did and work their way towards doing great things. Group them with Smotherman, Stephens and Scott and you’ve got a very young, very talented nucleus.
So good luck to Ronnie Johnson in his future endeavors. We may never know the whole story, but we hope it’s worth it to him to give up the opportunity he had at Purdue.