Purdue center Matt Haarms has entered the transfer portal, coach Matt Painter announced Monday. The 7-foot-3 Amsterdam native will be a graduate transfer if he leaves the Boilermakers and will be immediately eligible to play, with one season of eligibility remaining.
Haarms has been a three-year contributor at Purdue, starting 23 games as a redshirt sophomore during the Boilermakers’ run to the Elite Eight and 15 games as a junior before morphing into asuper-sub late in the season. This past season, he averaged 8.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2 blocks per game, while shooting 52.4% from the field and 31.3% from 3-point range.
Multiple reports Monday indicated that the Boilermakers’ coaching staff was surprised by the move, which could leave open a scholarship spot on the Purdue roster for next season. The Journal Gazette spoke with Painter last week about recruiting during the coronavirus pandemic and he intimated that his team was having an easier time than some others because its rosters for 2020 and 2021 are almost entirely set.
“We’re also fortunate because we don’t have a lot of scholarships to fill,” Painter said.
With Haarms’ departure, that is no longer quite as true, and the Boilers will likely look into the graduate transfer market – with most recruits from the 2020 class already committed – to find a replacement for Haarms, if he does decide to depart from West Lafayette.
Haarms’ decision will come as a surprise to many because, over the last few seasons, no one has embraced being a Boilermaker quite like the long-armed, floppy-haired Haarms. He seemed to have a unique connection with the fans at Mackey Arena, capable of whipping them into a frenzy with one of his trademark over-the-top fist pumps after a big block or a game-turning run from Purdue.
His decision to enter the portal could be due at least in part to the emergence of Trevion Williams as one of the Big Ten’s more talented big men this season. Williams started the season on the bench, with Haarms in the lineup. But in the last 12 games of the season, Williams, a sophomore, started 10 times, Haarms was in the starting lineup twice.
The pairing never really worked. Each preferred to play down low on offense, and both are best-suited to guarding back-to-the-basket centers rather than quicker power forwards on defense.
If Haarms is done at Purdue, Williams will have to play far more minutes next season – he averaged 21.5 this season, while Haarms averaged 20.5.
Incoming freshman Zach Edey, a 7-3 three-star recruit from Florida, might have to play a much larger role than Painter originally envisioned, as well.
Despite battling injuries and eventually coming off the bench, Haarms was still an integral part of the Boilermakers this season. He had a career-best 26-point performance on 11-for-16 shooting and nine rebounds in a Jan. 2 double-overtime win over Minnesota, and finished the season with a team-best 57 blocks. If his career at Purdue is over, he will leave as the fourth-leading shot blocker in program history with 210.
He was also a key contributor in Purdue’s deep NCAA Tournament run in 2018-19, scoring 18 points and grabbing nine rebounds in a second-round win over defending champion Villanova.
Earlier in that season, Haarms had perhaps his signature moment at Purdue, tipping in a missed shot in the final seconds to give the Boilermakers a 48-46 win over rival Indiana at Assembly Hall, silencing a crowd that had spent a good portion of the game directing a profane chant at him.
Note: Purdue also announced Monday that it has scheduled a matchup with Indiana State at Mackey Arena for Nov. 13. The Boilermakers have a 29-4 all-time record against the Sycamores, a team they last met in 2010. Indiana State is coming off an 18-12 season.