Many of you already know the name Donnie Hale. He's been a Purdue target for a while...but an apprehensive guy. I know, I mock the early commitment often as the 10 and 11 year-olds make their decisions to play for whomever. But, the reason some guys have to decide so early is because schollies are at a premium.
The same was the case for Hale. Purdue's '10 class was already filling up this time last year. Travis Carroll and Anthony Johnson had decided they'd be Boilers...and another commitment from Terone Johnson a month later made it seem like Hale had lost his opportunity to play at Purdue. As a result of the scholarship situation changing, Painter seemed to back off a bit...but stayed in contact with Hale.
My friends at Xavier told me it was a done-deal that Hale would be a Musky. He had received an offer from Miller, but the offer was no longer on the table after Miller left X. Last weekend, Hale went to Xavier's camp to showcase his abilities...and instead of receiving the offer, Xavier decided to hold off on the 6'8" forward.
While I don't completely understand the NCAA's rules on oversigning, I know coaches like Matta and Calipari have made their living oversigning talented classes. I believe, at this point, Hale is an oversign...which makes this such a good deal for Purdue. If either JJ and/or Hummel decide that '09/'10 is their last season at Mackey, there's room for Donnie...if not, he'll end up in prep school for a season (a la Sandi Marcius, Brad Miller, Chad Austin and others).
From what I've heard, Hale is still raw offensively...still not much of a threat to shoot the ball outside of the lane and lacks strength to compete in the Big Ten, at least out of the box. He's in the top 150, according to Rivals (135, but fell a bit recently). Rankings are funny, they create stars and sometimes snuff out a bright star...and it seems not much has changed for Hale, and that might be the problem. I don't know if he's progressed physically as much as many of the other players in the Rivals 150...but it seems, he's still tremendously athletic despite his lack girth.
At this point he reminds me of a shorter JJ coming out of high school. And I'm not suggesting he'll have the increase in ability that Johnson has had, but many backed off of Johnson because of his lack of strength out of Franklin Central a few years ago. And I've heard from more than one source, JJ has grown at least two inches since coming onto campus.
Aspects of Hale's game and mentality remind me of are, another JJ, Justin Jennings and his team mate Herb Dove. I believe Herb was 6'5" and Jennings, 6'6" (but can't find their info right now), so both were quite a bit shorter than Donnie. Neither was a particularly good shooter, but both played above the rim...both were pretty lean (especially Dove) and both were good defenders.
Regardless if Hale's a role player at Purdue or flourishes and surprises the experts, I'm glad he stayed in state and decided to play in the gold and black.
Welcome Donnie Hale!