Well, we all know how our beloved leaders here at BoiledSports feel about recruiting, but in an act of defiance in my second post ever, I'm going to talk a little about Purdue's latest commit, 2015 guard Ryan Cline from Carmel, IN. If the BS HR department wants to come after me for this blatant insubordination, I say, come at me bro. We all remember Sideboob Friday.
Ryan Cline is a sharpshooter from Carmel who may remind Purdue fans of recent Boilermakers such as Ryne Smith and Matt Waddell. Ball State, Belmont, and Northern Kentucky were the other schools involved in Cline's recruitment. Examining the Waddell comparison a bit, Purdue fans tend to think of Waddell as a shooter only, but he was a well rounded player. He is 32nd on Purdue all-time list for scoring, but he's also 6th in assists, 14th in steals, and 20th in minutes played. Every team needs a shooter, and players with athletic limitations can often settle into the role of "guy who stands behind the three point line, waiting for the pass". But the really good Purdue teams (and Waddell's teams certainly count) flourish because no one on the team is one-dimensional. Waddell contributed in nearly every statistical category outside of "rim rattling dunks". Point is, he made an impact, and gave his coach a reason to keep him on the floor in games, regardless of the situation. Waddell is a good analog for Cline, in that they both make their bread based on their ability to shoot, but if Cline wants to make a greater impact on Purdue basketball, it may serve him well to look past the shooting, and notice all the other little things that Waddell did that made him so successful. Cline apparently has the temperament, intelligence, and desire to work to achieve those goals. With his pedigree (his father played at Ohio State), existing relationships to Purdue players (he is a close friend of incoming freshman PJ Thompson), and ability (last year he shot 43% from distance) he is a solid pick up for a Purdue team in desperate need of his skills.
Regarding the uninspiring offer list prior to Purdue's involvement, there is something to be said for judging a recruit's abilities based on who else is interested (this is especially true in football, where the number of potential recruits is so vast and diverse that outside of the top-100 or so players, you're better off trusting that a coaching staff has done a better job evaluating their recruiting regions than a national subscription service). But looking at Cline's capabilities, and the type of program that Matt Painter and his staff are looking to build, he makes sense as a great fit for the program. It's important to keep in mind that recruiting classes are best judged as a whole, rather than a sum of parts. And designing an impactful class often involves strategically matching capabilities, needs, and personalities. The 2008 and 2013 classes are great examples of this. 2008 brought us two players who would start a total of 160 games, each of whom fully embraced the Purdue aesthetic, and really grew into their own as players under Painter. 2013 is off to a promising start: Kendall Stephens is a shooting specialist evolving into an all-around scorer, Basil Smotherman is an uber-athlete who embraces the nitty-gritty, and Bryson Scott is a bulldog whose intensity is always cranked to 11. These well-balanced classes are the lifeblood of a program like Purdue's, and are the primary reason for success historically when Purdue has been able to string a couple of them together.
Of course it doesn't always work out well (*ahem, looking at you, 2011 class). And when those poor performing and poorly balanced classes occur (2011 featured both!), like a wedding ring accidentally swallowed when licking icing off your fingers, it can be incredibly painful and take a while for the effects to pass. But to Matt Painter's credit, his classes following the 2011 class have been very well balanced, in skill, potential, and position. 2012 featured a center, a small forward, a power forward, and a point guard. 2013 has a power forward, a shooting guard, and a combo guard. And 2014 has a center, a power forward, a small forward, a point guard, and a shooting guard.
Ryan Cline is a piece in the next step in that progression. He is a combo guard who will spend probably 90% of his time playing off the ball, but who can handle the ball in a pinch. Physically, he's not a shrink-wrap Big 10 guard like Terone Johnson and Bryson Scott were, but he'll have plenty of time to work on that. Defense in one-on-one situations in space will be a concern, but good team defense, and notable contributions on the other end can help mask that. He's being brought in because he can shoot and he understands how to play the game of basketball. Add an athletic wing, a point guard, and a center to the mix (all needs in 2015) and his value to the program only increases.
After dealing with two seasons where his teams couldn't shoot or make an intelligent basketball decision, Matt Painter has apparently vowed to never go through that again (some may accuse him of recruiting current needs vs. future needs, but I'd say it's more like he's making sure he doesn't repeat those same problems). Ryan Cline is an excellent step in that direction. Welcome to the family, Ryan. You can follow him on Twitter at: Ryan_Cline13