Matt Painter on Matt Haarms and Nojel Eastern transferring from Purdue: ‘Transfers don’t get drafted’

Purdue coach Matt Painter made several pointed remarks about recent transfers Matt Haarms and Nojel Eastern on Wednesday, questioning not only their loyalty to the program, but also their work ethic.

Haarms, considered one of the top players available in the transfer portal, committed to BYU on April 23. Eastern entered the portal on Tuesday. Painter, appearing on Dan Dakich’s radio show, was particularly critical of Eastern, who leaves Purdue without having earned his degree.

“We’ve got a lot of great things going on at Purdue, and it’s (Eastern’s) loss,” Painter told Dakich. “When you walk out the door and you turn your back, you’re not thinking clearly about the big picture and what Purdue can do for you.”

Haarms and Eastern combined to start 102 games over three seasons from 2017 to 2020, though their stats would not suggest they were big contributors: Haarms (7-3) averaged 7.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game for his career; Eastern (6-7) averaged 5.1 points, four rebounds and two steals.

Haarms in particular is an interesting case, as it was apparent toward the end of the 2019-20 season that 6-9 sophomore Trevion Williams (11.5 points, 7.6 rebounds) would significantly eat into his minutes if he stayed. In that regard, Painter seemed to criticize both Haarms and Eastern for not sticking things out at Purdue, despite their lack of success.

“You might’ve got your degree from Purdue, but you’re not a Boilermaker if you walk out the door at the end and say, ‘Hey, I want to make the league.’ Well, guys who make the league work hard like Carsen Edwards and Caleb Swanigan,” Painter said. “I didn’t see that from him. Did he work hard in practice? Sure. Did he work hard in games? Sure. Was he a good player for us? Yes. But if you take him and rank him against those guys I just mentioned, where would you rank him? So Trevion Williams beat him out and if he wants to move on, then that’s his choice.

“I don’t mean to hurt anybody’s feelings, because I like the guys who have left my program. I like both of them. But transfers don’t get drafted, pretty much. 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.”

Painter also mentioned that he has heard criticism pointed at him and his program, which stems from letting two high-profile players leave the program (Eastern was the No. 69 player in the nation in the class of 2017, per 247Sports). He denied any notion that their transfers suggest there’s something wrong with his program.

“What’s going on at Purdue? Nothing’s going on at Purdue. To me, it’s all about competition,” Painter said. “Mason Gillis and Brandon Newman, they redshirted last year and I really like them. Ethan Morton, he’s the best passer I’ve ever recruited. Jaden Ivey, he’s really good.

“I like where we are, and I like what we’re doing.”

Even without Haarms and Eastern, it would seem.

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