Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
Matt Painter has known E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson for a relatively long time.
Then again, so have NBA scouts, directors of player personnel, assistant general managers and GMs — well, at least they’ve known about both of the former Purdue stars, both four-year college players.
So there haven’t been a ton of surprises as East Chicago Central graduate Moore and Johnson have worked out for teams in advance of the NBA Draft on June 23 in Newark, N.J.
“They’re known commodities, so we’ll see,” Painter said. “The workouts can help to a degree, can hurt a little bit to a degree — it just depends on how you perform. But really the body of work is the past four years and what they’ve been able to accomplish. I think they’re both in very good positions, way better positions than they were last year at this time. I think every NBA team would agree with that, and every NBA team agreed for them to come back. They both helped their cause.”
Moore and Johnson both tested the waters last year, declaring for the 2010 NBA Draft, before both ultimately returned to the Boilermakers as seniors. Moore, always known as a player who could score in an assortment of ways, continued to make progress as a ballhandler and decision-maker, and really emerged as a lockdown defender. The 6-foot-10 Johnson developed more of a perimeter game, showing the ability to hit jump shots in addition to a fadeaway and jump-hook, while continuing to attempt to add size to his thin frame.
As part of the feedback Painter has received from NBA types, he has heard they have been impressed with Moore’s “handles,” as well as his defense. He also said he could envision Johnson, who weighs about 220 or 225 pounds, bulking up to 240 or 250 pounds, as “crazy” as it sounds, as his body matures and with intense work. Painter also pointed out that Johnson has been “durable,” never missing a practice or game.
And, of course, Moore and Johnson, who have been evaluated as players over the years, have the personalities to win over NBA teams in interviews, as well as with their attitudes and effort. They’ll get in early, stay late and listen.
“They (NBA teams) want to spend some face-to-face time,” Painter said. “They want the right player, but they also want the right person, very similar to our recriting in college. Both of those guys are going to impress in those areas.”
Johnson has been projected as a borderline first-round pick.
“There’s something to be said for a 6-10 guy that can knock down perimeter shots and score in a variety of ways,” Painter said.
Moore has been projected as a second-rounder.
“E’Twaun’s always had some knocks, and he’s always been a guy that’s just been able to go out there and produce,” Painter said. “Once again, he’s on proving grounds going into the NBA. No matter what happens, where he gets drafted, who picks him up, they keep him, they don’t keep him, he’s in the rotation, he’s not in the rotation, he’s just going to keep coming. That’s the way he is. He’s going to find his spot. He’s just one of those guys. I’ve always believed in him. That’s kind of the telltale for a coach and a player. ... I believe in him as a player. We just always put the ball in his hands, and more times than not, he produced.”
Both Moore and Johnson come from good families, Painter said, and limited their circle of friends and minimized “distractions” throughout college.
“I’m just proud of him for really staying the course,” Painter said of Moore, who he also described as a “good judge of character” and able to “separate” from the “shady” people, while surrounding himself with people of “substance.” “Obviously, I’m crossing my fingers, but I think he’s going to make it. Whether he makes it immediately or not, I just think he’s one of those persistent guys that’s just going to keep coming and have a successful professional career.”
Looking ahead: As far as next season, Painter cautioned against underestimating the Boilermakers, despite graduating Moore and Johnson. He noted they went 9-7 in the Big Ten when Carl Landry and David Teague were seniors in 2006-07, then 15-3 the following season with the arrival of the “Baby Boilers.” He said Moore “replaced” Teague — Moore was a better player and had a better career than Teague, but Moore’s freshman season might not have been as good as Teague’s senior season — but no one could replace Landry.
“Sometimes you get consumed with what you lose, and we lose a lot, and if we’re going to sit around and keep talking about E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson and not talk about the guys that are on our team, I don’t think we’re going to go forward,” Painter said. “They were great players, they did a lot of good things for our progam, but going forward, we have to figure out some things to help this team. That’s important to kind of lay that groundwork with your players and say, ‘Hey, you are good enough.’ ... We had a better team (in 2007-08 than 2006-07), and that’s all that matters. ... It is a team sport, and you play together.”
Welcome aboard: Nebraska officially joins the Big Ten from the Big 12 on July 1.
Painter said he didn’t watch the Cornhuskers play last season, though he called Doc Sadler a good guy and a good coach.
“The decision to bring them in to the Big Ten made sense for all sports, and obviously it’s a great academic institution, so that fits with the Big Ten and our brand,” he said.
Around the rim: Robbie Hummel recently went to New York for a checkup and received a positive report from the surgeon who performed the Valparaiso High graduate’s second right ACL surgery. He remains on target to be fully cleared next month. ... Incoming freshmen forwards Donnie Hale and Jacob Lawson have arrived on campus. ... Class of 2012 commit Jay Simpson, a 6-8 forward, has transferred to LaLumiere from Champaign (Ill.) Central.