The Exponent attended today's men's basketball practice which started off in Holloway Gym and ended in Mackey Arena with some pick-up games. The team was joined by former Purdue players Robbie Hummel, JaJuan Johnson, Lewis Jackson, Keaton Grant and John Hart.
This was one of the first visual impressions of the team that now includes incoming freshman Basil Smotherman, Bryson Scott and Kendall Stephens, as well as incoming transfers Sterling Carter and Errick Peck.
The practice started by separating the team by position, after a quick shoot-around.
Beginning with the guards, the freshman and transfers were fitting right in. Ronnie and Terone Johnson were both making their shots and showing command over the ball. The drills included a lot of movement and shooting from the top of the key. An outside shot definitely seems like it is going to be one of the stressed points in this off-season.
During the forward's portion of practice, Jay Simpson was active and running around again after his redshirt year and foot injury. His role will increase next season with Jacob Lawson choosing to transfer. A.J. Hammons looks slimmer and much quicker, and continues to dominate the rebounds and move freely down low.
After the separate drills the team came together to run some quick 5 on 5s and work on fundamentals as head coach Matt Painter overlooked and added his input every so often.
Most of Painter's critiques were directed at the freshman who are still learning Purdue's system. One of the standouts, who did not get a lot of playing time during the regular season was Neal Beshears. Beshears was shooting the ball well and directing passes around the court.
Once the team had finished its drills, it moved into Mackey Arena where the pick up games started. It was refreshing to see some of Purdue's former players on the same court again especially competing against the current roster that wasn't around when Hummel and Johnson were.
Johnson was given an alley-oop from Lewis Jackson which he put home with authority. Other points that stood out was watching Ronnie Johnson drive the ball up-court against Jackson. Johnson just barely won the sprint up-court, but Jackson showed the same quckness and toughness that he displayed while at Purdue.
Sophomore AJ Hammons looked powerful in the post. After slimming down and working on his cardio, Hammons moves around much better and played fairly good defense on JuJuan Johnson.
Johnson, who finished his second year of professional basketball in the NBA D-League, looked good and scored against many of the younger guys. In one instance he dribbled past Hammons and pulled up and made a successful jump shot over him.
The team had full intensity in the pick-ups with players fighting hard on defense and making the offense work for a basket. Terone Johnson sounded like a true leader on the court commanding his team and constantly talking to teammates and giving directions. The team looks eager to make a statement this year and show how much better next season will be.