Purdue had high hopes last season for five-star recruit and McDonald’s All American Caleb Swanigan, who signed with the Boilermakers after decommitting from Michigan State. Swanigan is the highest profile player to play for Purdue in a generation and became the first Indiana Mr. Basketball to play for the Boilermakers since Glen Robinson in 1991. The 6’9” forward saw Purdue as a good fit for his physical post play and a team he could help bring a championship.
In his freshman year, Biggie averaged 10 points and 8 rebounds. He shot an unimpressive 29% from the three-point line and averaged the most turnovers on his team (2.6). The Boilermakers proceeded to be upset by Arkansas-Little Rock in an overtime loss during the 2016 NCAA tournament, which ended their season a little earlier than many anticipated. During the offseason, Swanigan declared for the NBA draft but withdrew shortly after he received little attention from NBA scouts. Caleb decided to return to Purdue for a second season and it was safe to say that the decorated high school star had underperformed in his first year as a Boilermaker and clearly had a ways to go.
So he worked. This was something Swanigan was no stranger to; becoming McDonald’s All-American, Indiana Mr. Basketball, and the biggest recruit in Purdue history didn’t just happen overnight. During offseason he worked on getting faster, building explosiveness, and developing a quicker jumper.
Swanigan looks like a different player this season, literally. Biggie lost more than 20 pounds from his freshman year and in Purdue’s season debut against McNeese State he dropped a massive double-double, scoring 23 points and grabbing 20 rebounds. Swanigan got quicker and stronger on both ends of the floor, increased his vertical 7 to 8 inches, and became a much more consistent shooter and scorer.
Caleb’s points, rebounds, and assists are all up from his freshman season. He improved from a 29% three-point shooter to a 48% three-point shooter this year. Biggie is currently averaging 19 points and 12.8 rebounds and the sophomore’s tremendous play has helped lead the Boilermakers to a 20 – 5 record on the season. The double-double machine is now a National Player of the Year candidate and his breakout season serves as the ultimate testament to his hard work.