Purdue showed Jaden Ivey how badly he was wanted, so it got him
It was Jan. 25, and the weather in Central and Northern Indiana not so good, snowing and freezing cold all the way from West Lafayette to the South Bend area, a path for which there's no real direct route.
Nevertheless, Matt Painter made it to Elkhart Central that night to see Jaden Ivey play.
"It was snowing really bad," Ivey said. "He told me he drove all the way to see me. I kind of knew from then he really liked me, and that helped me reach my decision."
That decision came Wednesday afternoon, when the Mishawaka Marian guard committed to the Boilermakers two days before the NCAA's spring evaluation period, his first playing on a mainstream sort of stage.
He chose Purdue over offers from Notre Dame and Butler and interest from Indiana and others.
"I know I'm going to play great this summer. That's just my confidence level," Ivey said of the timing of his commitment. "I think I can show a lot of coaches what I can do, but I found the place I really wanted to be, starting in November when I took my official visit.
" I just loved the coaching staff. I think it's honestly the best coaching staff in the country, and they saw something in me. I just love Coach Painter and what they did for me."
Ivey cited the priority designation Purdue's head coach clearly placed on him and the effort Painter put forth to recruit him as looming large in his recruitment. That pursuit began in August, when Ivey attended Purdue's elite camp, Painter saw him there, really for the first time, offered immediately thereafter and never let up.
"From the start, Purdue stood out from everyone who recruited me," Ivey said. "It was the coaches, and I just love Coach Painter, love how he's enthusiastic about me coming to Purdue."
Ivey officially visited in the fall under the NCAA's new format in which players can take junior-year official visits. He returned for an unofficial visit Feb. 9 for Purdue's win over Nebraska, at which time, he says, "from the start, in that atmosphere, I kind of knew." The success of Purdue's guards this season only helped secure the Boilermakers' position at the top of his mind.
But, more than anything, Ivey said, it came down to Painter, and the effort put in to recruit him.
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Ivey stood out to Purdue for a lot of reasons, foremost of which are his scoring acumen and shooting ability — he averaged about 25 per game for Marian as a junior and made roughly 40 percent of his threes — and athleticism and versatility. He'll come to Purdue as a combo guard, capable of playing any backcourt position.
But intangibles sold Painter on Ivey too.
"How hard I work," Ivey said when asked what might have set him apart in Painter's eyes. "I think he realizes how much work I've put into this game, and that I'm willing to work even harder. I think that's what he noticed."
That element, Ivey said, comes from his mother, Niele, Notre Dame's women's team's associate head coach and one of the great players in Irish women's basketball history, as Purdue knows probably better than it would prefer. Niele Ivey helped Notre Dame beat Purdue in the 2001 NCAA title game.
"She grew up in St. Louis and some things were hard for her, but she worked so hard to get to where she is today," Ivey said. "She definitely inspires me a lot to push myself and work even harder. Every day I go in the gym and just think about her and how much time she puts into the game she loves. I was born into this game and definitely love it, too."
Jaden Ivey will follow in his mother's footsteps in playing college basketball at a high level. Even though Notre Dame recruited him, though, and he was born into Fighting Irish basketball, he will carve his own path.
"It was hard (turning down Notre Dame), because it's family and almost every day that I go to the gym," Ivey said. "But I've been here my whole life, lived here my whole life and I haven't been anywhere else.
"I think they're OK with me leaving. I know I am, and I'm just happy with the decision I made. I think Purdue is the best place for me and the best fit for me and as a person, I think I can grow at Purdue."
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