On Wednesday Purdue’s much-anticipated class of 2013 signed their letters of intent, making official what had been in the works for years: Bryson Scott, Kendall Stephens, and Basil Smotherman are now Boilermakers.
When I say that this has been in the works for years, I am not exaggerating. This class committed very early; in fact, each of the three 2013 commits gave a verbal commitment before the last two members of the 2012 class (Ronnie Johnson and AJ Hammons) did so. Scott was the first commit, giving his verbal almost two years ago (11/28/2012). Stephens and Smotherman committed soon thereafter, within days of each other (2/14/2011 and 2/16/2011 respectively).
When there is such a huge gap between when a verbal is given and when a National Letter of Intent can be signed there can be some hand-wringing about whether that commitment will hold. One does not have to look any further than Derek Willis, Trey Lyles, or Robert Vaden to know there there is a world of difference between a kid giving a verbal commitment and the same kid actually showing up on campus.
But these three never wavered in their commitment to the Boilermakers, despite added attention that each of them received over the past two years. They have each often talked about how excited they are to go to Purdue, and that excitement has been returned by Boilermaker fans.
The first one to verbal was Bryson Scott, a point guard out of Fort Wayne Northrop (IN), where he played alongside his brother Brenton – an Indiana State commit who signed his NLI Wednesday as well. Bryson’s style of play could best be described as very pitbull-ish. He is an absolute monster on both offense and defense, and plays with an incredible sense of urgency and aggressiveness. He is a fantastic on the ball defender, shutting down blue chip recruit Cat Barber during the Nike EYBL; a defensive performance that caught the eye of a number of scouts around the nation.
Offensively, he is best when he is attacking the basket. He is a strong dribbler with his right hand, and physically he is strong enough to go wherever he needs to go and do whatever he needs to do. He has a Big 10 body right now, as a high school senior. He has also been working on his perimeter game, and it has been showing, as his pull-up jumper has improved quite a bit. That is a shot that he will be able to get, as his ability to penetrate will force defenders to lay off him. He is a guy who can score a lot of points, especially as he continues to add to his repertoire.
He is a very passionate basketball player, who has at times, let that passion get the best of him and affect his game in a negative way. With a player like that, you do not want to suppress that emotion; rather you want to harness it. Probably the best comparison for Scott is Chris Kramer with a more developed offensive game. Bryson has all the tools to be a hell of a player for Purdue; expect him to get minutes right away and make a real impact early on in his career.
Kendall Stephens was the second member of the class of 2013 to commit. He is the son of former Purdue player and fan favorite Everette Stephens, and his commitment was a big deal. Kendall was just starting to blow up on the recruiting scene when he gave Purdue an early commit. He is best known for his shooting ability; he has an absolutely beautiful shot from distance, something that Purdue will definitely need next year (and frankly, could probably use this year too). He is more than a shooter though; he has developed a better all-around offensive game, as his 6’6” frame allows him to score in a number of different ways.
The biggest weakness in his game is his strength; he does not have a Big 10 frame yet, but another year of growth plus time spent within Purdue’s strength and conditioning program should fix that. He has an incredibly high ceiling, and could really turn into a special player for Purdue. Unfortunately, things have been a little derailed for Kendall, as he just found out that he has torn the labrum in his right shoulder. It has not been determined yet whether he will have to have surgery – which would certainly end any hopes of playing his senior year – or if rehab and rest is enough to heal it. While it is very unfortunate, and undoubtedly disappointing, that missing his senior year of basketball is an increasing possibility, there is plenty of time for him to recover, surgery or not, before he suits up for Purdue. For his sake, I hope he gets to play this year, but we will have to wait to find out if that is a possibility.
The final member of the 2013 class to verbal is probably the biggest enigma of the class, Basil Smotherman. When Basil was a freshman at Heritage Christian HS (IN), he was a 6’2” guard ranked as high as top-20 nationally for his class. Since then, he has gone through a growth spurt, transferred high schools, and had to learn a new position – moving from the perimeter down to the blocks. While in the process of doing so he fell off the recruiting map. But his raw talent is undeniable. Perhaps the best word to describe his game is smooth. When things are clicking for him, he makes the game look effortless. He is especially impressive on fast breaks, where his elite athleticism and excellent ball handling for a guy his size can be put on display. Despite being the lowest ranked member of the Purdue’s 2013 class, he might be the player with the highest potential. Towards the end of this past summer’s AAU season, the light really started to look like it had turned on for him, and he was putting up impressive performance after impressive performance. If that carries on to the high school season at Lawrence North HS (IN), he could really emerge as a weapon. He may be a developmental player, but his natural gifts and high skill level make him an intriguing prospect. He just needs to put everything together, and once he does, he will be very dangerous.
One of the biggest criticisms leveled against this program over the past few years is that Purdue was never able to capitalize on the recruiting success in 2007 in the subsequent classes. That is certainly not that case this time around, as an excellent 2012 class is being followed by a 2013 class that is just as good. Each player in the 2013 class gives Purdue talented players at positions of need. Bryson Scott as a point guard who can play both in relief of Ronnie Johnson but also alongside him to take advantage of his superb scoring ability. Kendall Stephens as a wing who can score reliably from distance. And Basil Smotherman, a versatile athlete who can play either on the blocks or out on the wing, and who can guard nearly every position on the court.
This is a very talented group of young men who took the first real step to becoming Boilermakers Wednesday, so please join me in welcoming Purdue’s newest recruiting class: the class of 2013 – Bryson Scott, Kendall Stephens, and Basil Smotherman.