Starter – Braden Smith: 9.7 ppg / 4.4 apg / 4.2 rpg /30.3 mpg
The 6-foot guard’s minutes may be the safest in college basketball. Not only is the sophomore talented, as he was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team in no small part due to ranking sixth in assists per game, ninth in steals, and third in free-throw percentage in the conference, but Coach Painter does not have a backup point guard to challenge Braden Smith for minutes.
The Westfield, Indiana native is a threat to score whenever he has the ball in his hands as he is always looking to get to the basket. His aggressive mentality was illustrated last season as he attempted the tenth most free throws in the Big Ten. It is also an aspect of his game that has carried over to the Boilermakers’ four-game European tour as he attempted ten in four games. Because of his ability to take defenders off the dribble, with or without a ball screen, defenders frequently back off him which allows him to pull up and hit elbow jumpers.
Off the bench – Lance Jones: 13.8 ppg / 3 rpg / 2.4 apg / 31 mpg
The most glaring hole Coach Painter had last season was at backup point guard. The transfer of 6 foot 1 Lance Jones from Southern Illinois may have just filled that hole. Not only will Jones maintain the offense laid down by Smith in terms of taking his defender off the dribble, but Jones can also get hot from beyond the arc, something that his 28 percent from the three-point line does not indicate, it must be noted that he did hit at least four from deep in six games last season and when it comes to Jones, the adjective ‘deep’ means something because he will launch from 25 or more feet.
During the four games in Europe, Jones went two for thirteen from the arc, something that will need to improve if he hopes to prevent his defender from doubling down on Zach Edey.
Limited minutes – Chase Martin: 4 gp / 7 total minutes
The mechanical engineering major appeared in four games last season and attempted just three field goals, while is role does not project to change much during the 2023-24 season, during the four games he appeared in during the European tour the 6 foot 2 guard attempted four field goals and connected on three of them. He is a hard-nosed player that executes the fundamentals and will be instrumental during team scrimmages.