Purdue announced a men’s basketball signing class Wednesday that includes a pair of in-state standouts in Silver Creek forward Trey Kaufman-Renn and Fort Wayne Blackhawk Christian center Caleb Furst.
But to Purdue coach Matt Painter, the 2021 class is about more than trying to lock up the best talent in the Hoosier state.
“I don’t want to sign guys in the state just to talk the rhetoric that we’re getting all these guys in the state,” Painter said. “I want to get guys that fit at Purdue, period.”
Painter said he has those two players in the 6-foot-9 skilled combo forward Kaufman-Renn and the physical, mobile 6-10 center Furst.
“Those two, I feel, are going to be able to win a lot of games for Purdue,” Painter said,
Kaufman-Renn, the reigning Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year, is one of the leading contenders for 2021 Indiana Mr. Basketball this season. He averaged 25.8 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists as a junior. Nationally, Kaufman-Renn is a top-100 ranked player, ranked as high as 32nd by Rivals.com.
Painter said he feels Kaufman-Renn is capable of playing both forward spots at the Big Ten level, comparing him to Vince Edwards, an effective combo forward for the Boilermakers from 2014-18.
“He’s just a winner,” Painter said. “He’s a hard-working guy. He loves basketball, really always striving to find the next thing to improve whether it’s his lateral quickness, his outside shooting, whatever, just kind of a basketball junkie. And we think he’s going to be a great player for us.”
Furst, a 225-pound lefty, averaged 22.1 points, 13.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists as a junior and was poised to lead Blackhawk Christian to a Class A state title in 2020 before the season was cut short because of the pandemic.
“Just his ability to move with that kind of size and athleticism, I mean, (he) really improved his free-throw percentages which is a great sign,” Painter said. “A lot of times, guys want to shoot shots from the perimeter, shoot 3s. But first and foremost, when you have size you’ve got to be able to make your free throws.”
Furst shot 82% from the free-throw line as a junior.
“That was a fantastic stride on his part because it was something that we’ve talked about,” Painter said.
Nationally, Furst is ranked as high as 30th in the country by ESPN.com. He chose Purdue over a number of Big Ten schools, including Indiana, Michigan State and Ohio State.
Painter said Purdue junior starting point guard Eric Hunter Jr. will be out six-to-eight weeks after suffering a compression fracture of his tibia near his knee during Monday’s intrasquad scrimmage.
There is no structural or ligament damage in the knee, Painter said. Hunter averaged 10.2 points and 2.6 assists last year as a sophomore, appearing in all 31 of Purdue’s games.
Purdue is scheduled to open its season Nov. 25 in Melbourne, Florida, against Liberty in the Space Coast Classic.