Indiana fans, remember this name—Braden Smith.
That’s the name of Purdue’s latest 2022 recruit. Smith is a 6’ guard from Westfield, who had apparently been waiting on Painter and Purdue to offer him. Once they did, he wasted no time pulling the trigger and committing to the Boilers last Thursday (Apr 29).
Purdue was apparently the first major conference team to offer Braden Smith, and that was something that he didn’t take lightly. He had drawn interest from the likes of Gonzaga, Oregon, Villanova, and Indiana. It is the last name on that list that concerns me. I had recently taken to Twitter myself declaring my desire for this state of Indiana product to end up wearing candy stripe pants.
I said that because Smith seemed to me like a basketball player that was a prototypical Indiana fan favorite. He just put me in mind of guys like Tom Coverdale and Jordan Hulls–the kind of Indiana-born and bred kid that was weened with a basketball in his hand.
At 6’ he may be a bit undersized for the Big Ten, but what he lacks in size he makes up for in quickness and skill. He is a water bug out there on the court, creating space for himself with seeming ease. He also has phenomenal court vision to go along with a silky smooth shooting stroke, a nice runner, and an actual midrange game. Yes, you read that right. He has the mythical white whale of basketball skills; he can make a midrange shot.
I am not going to lie, I would have loved to watch Smith playing for Indiana beginning in the fall of 2022. Instead, I am going to have to watch him in that dreadful gold and black. (No offensive Purdue fans. I just can’t help myself. Especially when you guys get players that I wanted. We have lost to you guys too much these last few years it is affecting me, but my therapist is helping me work through it, I swear.)
Mind you, I am not second-guessing the new Indiana coaching staff about letting this one get away. I trust Mike Woodson and his staff to bring in the right kind of guys to fit the style of play they have in mind. From what we have been hearing from them, Smith didn’t really fit the description of what the Hoosiers are looking for. Indiana, from what we are hearing, is after long, athletic, types who can switch everything on the perimeter.
Smith doesn’t really fit that bill. However, Purdue’s penchant for stingy, helping, man-to-man defense seems to me to be a good fit for Smith. Maybe he thought that too, and that is why he spurned me…eh, Indiana…for the Boilers.
With all that said, I am happy for Braden Smith, and I am glad he is staying in the state where we can watch his career progress. I am happy for him because Purdue was obviously where he wanted to play his college basketball. This is the scholarship offer he was hoping for, and he jumped on it. Had I been good enough at his age, and Coach Knight would have called me, I would have said yes immediately. For Braden, it was apparently Coach Painter’s call he was waiting on. And it came.
As much as I wish Braden Smith was going to be on our side, donning the candy stripe pants, with Indiana emblazoned across that big ticker of his, it’s the Purdue fans that are in for a treat. He is going to be fun to watch.
Perhaps I am way off, and Braden Smith won’t end up being the player that I envision him being, but I would not be willing to put a wager on that. Ranked recruit or not, I think the kid is special, and I am afraid that he is a player Indiana fans are going to learn to despise.
By the way, if you are not from Indiana, being despised by Indiana fans is a sure sign that you are a really good Purdue player.