basketball Edit

Quickly-emerging post-grad big man nets Purdue offer

Purdue's search for a post player to add to next season's team has added another prime target, as Malik Ondigo of Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut was offered a scholarship by Matt Painter on Sunday.

"They have a great situation out there, with Caleb (Swanigan) maybe going to the draft and them needing somebody to play the 4 and the 5," Ondogo said. "It'd be early playing time in a big conference. And Purdue develops bigs. It would be a great opportunity."

Boilermaker associate head coach Jack Owens began recruiting the Arizona native this past summer and has kept a presence in his recruitment. But Painter's trip out east to watch him play recently was the tipping point in the Boilermaker staff's interest.

"They like my versatility on offense, being able to play the 4 and the 5 and being able to shoot, use right or left hooks, my scoring ability," Ondigo said. "And defensively, they've been impressed. I think that's what really sold them, me talking the way I do on defense help-side, playing the pick-and-roll and being able to hedge hard on the point guard, not just being able to defend the 5, but the 4, 5 and even 3, able to stay out on the perimeter a little longer if I have to defensively."

Purdue has prioritized as a non-negiotable need post help for next season, with Swanigan likely headed to the NBA, Jacquil Taylor recovering from injury and Isaac Haas due to be a senior, requiring front-line help not just for next season, but beyond.

"It's obviously a great situation, something I'll consider deeply: Early playing time in the Big Ten Conference at a school that develops bigs well, and a top-25 team," Ondigo said. "And the head coach is showing a lot of interest. That means a lot to me. It's something I'm definitely going to look into, I can guarantee you."

This could be a crowded field, though.

Among the offers Ondigo has fielded lately: Pittsburgh, Boston College, DePaul and Minnesota. Some who are said to have offered prior to his post-graduate year: Memphis, TCU and Washington State.

Ondigo mentioned Georgia Tech and Colorado among the many recruiting him also.

"Once I'm done with my PG year, I'm going to go home and talk to my family and schedule all my visits, then cut my list down," Ondigo said. "But to be honest, recruiting changes every week. Offers keep coming in, like the Purdue offer comes in and changes the game completely. It seems like every week a new school comes in and changes things. It's like, 'We've got this school, but now this school is interested, too.'"

These schools are drawn to player riding an upward trajectory.

Ondigo — who turned 18 around the start of the year – only picked up interest in basketball prior to his junior year of high school in Arizona.

"I have so much to learn still," Ondigo said. "I'm only in my third year playing basketball. I have so much I still have to learn. I'm shocked at what I've been able to do in just three years.

"A lot of people say I can make money off of this game one day. I'd love to. I just have to keep getting 1 percent better and not focus on that right now. I just have to focus on the next day, the next game, the next scouting report."

Purdue already has one commitment for the spring: In-state guard Sasha Stefanovic. In the fall it signed junior college forward Eden Ewing and prep prospects Aaron Wheeler, Nojel Eastern and Matt Haarms.

Haarms is already enrolled and using this season as a redshirt year.

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