Boiler Banter: Purdue Will be Just Fine Without Kanon Catchings

“In Matt Painter we trust.”

 There’s not a currency specific to West Lafayette, Ind., but if there were, that slogan would be minted on the coins. And it’s a motto Purdue fans should keep in mind after Thursday’s news that four-star forward Kanon Catchings requested to be released from his scholarship.

Purdue released a statement Thursday announcing that Catchings had been granted his release. Very little details were provided in the update.

“Kanon has asked for his release from his scholarship and we have granted him that request,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “We wish him luck in his future endeavors.”

Without question, Catchings’ departure is a big blow to Purdue’s heralded 2024 recruiting class. 247Sports ranked the 6-foot-8 forward as the No. 38 overall prospect of the cycle. He possesses elite-level skill and athleticism and likely would’ve gotten plenty of minutes in the Boilermakers’ rotation during the 2024-25 campaign.

At the 11th hour, though, Catchings ultimately decided Purdue wasn’t where he fit. We could speculate on his decision to request a release from his scholarship, but that seems unfair to all parties involved. 

It’s also disingenuous to say the Boilermakers are better off without Catchings. He’s one of the top prospects in the 2024 class and a potential 2025 NBA Draft pick for a reason.

But what I will say is this: Purdue is going to be just fine without him. 

A lot has been made of the talent the Boilermakers are losing from last year’s Final Four squad — and for good reason. Painter’s team is losing two-time National Player of the Year Zach Edey, as well as Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year Mason Gillis and starting guard Lance Jones. There are a lot of holes to fill in the offseason.

What gets overlooked, however, is the talent returning in West Lafayette next season. 

Purdue has a backcourt combination of Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer that has started all 74 games in their first two seasons. Caleb Furst was a starting forward for the Boilermakers during the 2022-23 campaign. Trey Kaufman-Renn was a starter during the 2023-24 season.

Although Camden Heide and Myles Colvin only averaged 12 and eight minutes per game, respectively, they both showed brilliant flashes of athleticism last season. Both are expected to take on much bigger roles this season.

Then there’s the incoming class — which is still pretty damn good even with Catchings’ departure. After the four-star forward was released from his scholarship, Purdue’s 2024 class dropped from No. 11 in 247Sports’ Composite Rankings to No. 16 nationally.

Purdue’s incoming class is the program’s highest-ranked since 2012. It’s a group that includes four-star guard Gicarri Harris, four-star center Daniel Jacobsen, three-star forward Raleigh Burgess and three-star guards CJ Cox and Jack Benter.

Additionally, Purdue just reached the National Championship Game this past season with players from recruiting classes that ranked 55th (2019), 37th (2020), 41st (2021), 30th (2022) and 73rd (2023). 

Go ahead and insert that “In Matt Painter we trust” slogan.

During the 2022-23 season, Painter said something about the recruitment of Smith — a player who received very little national attention. And it explained his philosophy when it comes to evaluating talent.

“(He’s) Five stars in my eyes. And so I could care less what anyone else thinks,” he said after Purdue’s win over Davidson in the Indy Classic. “If you saw some of the people that actually do rank them, it’s impossible. It’s impossible to put a bunch of work into 500 kids and be good at it.

“We’ve signed one McDonald’s All-American in 18 years, and we’ve done pretty well.”

In nearly two decades at Purdue, Painter has led his program to five Big Ten regular season titles — four of which have come in the last eight years. The Boilermakers have reached the NCAA Tournament 15 times.

Losing a player with the abilities Catchings possesses is a tough pill to swallow, especially fresh off a National Championship Game appearance. But it’s hardly the end of the world in West Lafayette.


“In Matt Painter we trust.”

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