Purdue Basketball: Can Caleb Furst have an immediate impact as a freshman?

Can Purdue Basketball freshman Caleb Furst have an immediate impact for Purdue this season? The 6-8, 2021 Indiana Mr. Basketball joins a Boilermaker frontcourt that is anchored by 6-10 All-Big Ten forward, Trevion Williams. Williams made the decision this summer to remove his name from the NBA Draft pool and return to Purdue, which was huge for Purdue.

The Boilermaker’s frontcourt also returns the Big Ten’s biggest–at least tallest–attraction in 7-4, Zach Edey. Edey was selected to the All-Big Ten Freshman Team last season.

The Boilers also return 6-6 Mason Gillis who had a strong freshman season, earning starts in the final 23 games. Purdue also added another highly touted freshman in 6-9  forward Trey Kaufman-Renn, and 6-7 freshman, Brian Waddell.

This combination of players should give Coach Painter and his staff great depth in the frontcourt this upcoming season.

How is Furst going to figure in this season? Is he going to be an immediate impact player for the Boilers, or will it take him a little bit to work his way into starting lineup?

A first-game starting line that includes Gillis, Edey, and Williams in the frontcourt looks awfully good on paper. All three have Big Ten experience going into the season, which Furst lacks. But Furst’s size and versatility are going to make him hard to keep off the floor. The same goes for Trey Kaufman-Renn.

Edey only started 2 of Purdue’s 28 games last season, so it seems very likely that Edey may continue to be in that role to start the season. That is, barring a huge leap in development from last season.

That would allow for a very talented Furst to slip into the starting lineup with Gillis and Williams. Honestly, that lineup just seems to work. Williams excels on the low block and Gillis seems like a good fit with him. Furst would add a stretch four that can not only punish people in the post but should also be able to spread the floor some with his nice touch outside the paint, allowing more room for Williams to go to work.

Edey, Kaufman-Renn, and Waddell coming off the bench for Purdue look like an embarrassment of riches for the Boilers. Those guys would start for a lot of teams across the country. Even in the Big Ten.

What Furst brings to the table, I believe, is going to help Purdue from day one. His rebounding for one thing is going to be huge for the Boilers. When talking about what made Furst special when he tried out for the U19 national team, Coach Painter said,

“It was just his ability to rebound. He led the trials in offensive and defensive rebounding and he took the most free throws. He was active, had a lot of energy, and was just around the basketball.”

That is what is going to get him on the floor for Purdue early and often. Williams and Furst will gobble up a lot of rebounds and should be able to get their team multiple second looks at the rim, as they pound the glass.

Who knows what the season will hold. I certainly don’t have a crystal ball that will tell me anything. Furst just passes the eye test. He just looks ready to ready to make Purdue even better. He looks like an immediate impact player. Indiana Mr. Basketballs usually are.

The 2020 Indiana Mr. Basketball, Anthony Leal, really struggled last year at Indiana. He wasn’t much of a game-changer for IU. But 2019’s Mr. Basketball was a different story altogether. Trayce Jackson-Davis came into Indiana and was the best player right away.

I expect Furst’s impact to be much more like Jackson-Davis’ was than Leal’s.  I don’t see much chance of him coming in and being Purdue’s best player like TJD was at Indiana–not with Williams and Jaden Ivey on the roster. But I certainly expect him to make the Boilers a lot better. In fact, I bet he already has.