The foray into the NCAA transfer portal by Purdue guard Nojel Eastern was as fruitful as it was brief. In the same week he entered it, thus officially making himself available for other programs to contact him, the Purdue guard announced Thursday on Twitter he’s already exiting it with intentions to stay in the Big Ten and continue his career at Michigan.
Eastern, who led the Boilermakers with 2.7 assists per game in 2019-20 as a junior, will be required to sit one season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules unless he is granted a waiver for immediate eligibility. Michigan star forward Isaiah Livers has entered the NBA Draft and signed with an agent, but is keeping his eligibility and the option open for a return next season.
The abbreviated transfer process comes on the heels of pointed remarks made Wednesday by Purdue coach Matt Painter upon learning the news of Eastern’s transfer. In an interview on the “Dan Dakich Show,” he didn’t mince words talking about his now-former player and the thoughts he had on him leaving.
“Nojel improved from his freshman to sophomore year, but he took a step back this year,” Painter said via the Indianapolis Star. “I love him, but he’s got to check (his self-assessment).”
Painter added that Purdue has “a lot of great things going on” and that Eastern’s decision to leave is “his loss.”
Eastern is the second key player to leave the Boilermakers early this offseason after Matt Haarms transferred to BYU last month. The loss of Eastern and Haarms leaves Purdue without a senior on next season’s roster.
Eastern tested the NBA Draft waters after his freshman season and entered the draft again last month, despite meager production. In three seasons at Purdue he averaged 5.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game.
“I don’t mean to hurt anybody’s feelings, because I like the guys who have left my program. I like both of them (Haarms and Eastern), but transfers don’t get drafted, pretty much,” Painter said. “It’s a very, very small percentage. What I look at more than anything is embrace problems and embrace adversity and fight it. Don’t run from it. When you run from it and your work ethic isn’t at a high, high level like a Carsen Edwards or a Caleb Swanigan … that’s the one thing that’s not gonna change.”