Prospect Watch: Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan

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The San Antonio Spurs got a nice break from the hectic schedule of the NBA season thanks to the All-Star Weekend festivities and the week off that comes with it. They have 43 wins already this season (as I predicted a couple weeks ago might happen) and that means a late first round pick is likely on its way. I’m here to get you prepared for some of the possibilities for who the Spurs might draft out of the college ranks with their late pick.

This week’s prospect features one of the best feel-good stories in a long time about a kid who had to overcome more obstacles in a few years than most people do in a lifetime. Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan started out shuttling between homeless shelters and unstable housing situations during most of his youth as his mother tried to support six children while his dad was addicted to crack-cocaine. (You can find the entire profile on ESPN).

But basically, Swanigan would eat unhealthy and become a 360-pound eighth grader before finally slimming down and becoming a potential All-American National Player of the Year candidate. The big man Boilermaker has put up four 20-20 games and leads the nation in double-doubles this season.

Here are his measurables:

  • 6’9”, 250 pounds
  • 18.9 PPG, 13 RPG
  • 78.4 FT%, 54.3 FG%, 48.3 3P% (on 2.2 attempts a game)
  • 7’4” wingspan

While the NBA is trending more towards stretch-4s and 5s, the Spurs could bring it back old school with this pick. Swanigan commands double teams right now and is a smart enough player to throw it back outside in order to get it back in better position inside. He has an array of moves around the rim with good touch and his free throw shooting won’t scare away the Spurs from throwing the ball into him to get fouled.

Swanigan was one of many players to enter the NBA Combine last year and realize that he wasn’t quite ready for the big leagues. That has prompted him to get in the best shape of his life and put up the numbers to go with it. He has a work ethic that any team would love to have and it will only look better when he wins the Big Ten Player of the Year Award (which I am totally predicting now) and possibly National Player of the Year award.

The biggest concern for the big man is going to be his defense at the next level, as he’s not very quick or agile. He doesn’t move laterally well because of the weight he carries, but his ability to rebound the ball so well should help him as well as his wingspan. He would best fit in as a small-ball center or a normal lineup’s power forward assuming he has two or more shooters around him.

Photo: BoiledSports.com 

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