Just two nights after it offered him a scholarship, Purdue has landed a commitment from Westfield High School point guard Branden Smith, filling a key need in its 2022 class.
The Boilermakers were the 6-foot guard’s first high-major offer, representing a relatively quick closure to a recruitment that was trending upward as the spring unfolded and the summer neared. Smith held a slew of mid-major offers, but Purdue was joined by Indiana as showing consistent interest. Gonzaga, Oregon and Villanova are among those who have also established lines of communication, he’s said.
It shouldn’t be surprising that Matt Painter was the first power-conference coach to take the plunge, given Smith’s reputation as a player. He’s regarded for his tenacity and toughness at point guard, and his IQ, shooting and passing abilities as an offensive player, all of those things being Painter favorites.
Smith says he recognized the fit at Purdue right away, an unexpected turn for a player who grew up an Indiana fan.
“I never thought I’d be a Boilermaker,” Smith said. “I was more on the IU side when I was younger. But now that I’ve seen that (fit) and understand more about how basketball is, how it’s played, and their playing style, just seeing all that, it really made an impact.”
As a junior at Westfield, Smith averaged 22 points, five-and-a-half rebound, six-plus assists and around three steals and shot shot 45 percent from three-point range.
“He liked the way I play, the chip on my shoulder,” Smith said of Painter. “I’m not the biggest, I’m not the fastest, and I’m not the strongest, but … It was just the way I play. He said he liked how I hustle and said he thought I was a great passer. He talked a lot about that, how he thinks I make teammates better.”
He joins shooting guard Fletcher Loyer as Purdue’s two 2022 commitments to this point.
Stay tuned this weekend for coverage of Smith’s games this weekend at the Hensley Memorial Run ‘N Slam in Fort Wayne.