My Two Cents: It's an Obvious Question — Do You Want Matt Haarms?
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Polarizing Purdue center Matt Haarms has entered the NCAA transfer portal and, Hoosier Nation, I have just one question for you.
You want him?
It would be the ultimate in craziness, of course, a Purdue player transferring to Indiana. It would be even crazier, of course, because no fan base has been as rude or raw or downright vulgar to Haarms as Indiana's fans, both young and old. They have been embarrassingly nasty to the tall import from Amsterdam the past three years.
But still, he's 7-foot-3 and he's played in more than 100 games. He's graduating soon and is available immediately. Indiana has big men Trayce Jackson-Davis, Joey Brunk and Race Thompson returning, but there are no big guys in this current 2020 recruiting class.
Another big body would be good.
I know you've reached the point in this column where you're trying to figure out if I'm serious or not. Some of you are muttering that three-word phrase that starts with NO and ends with WAY. Many are screaming it. I get that. Potty mouths!
Others think I must be really sick and confused on pain pills or something. Trust me, I'm feeling good. Quarantined out of pure safety, but healthy as can be.
So here's my truly legitimate thinking.
Right now, in those very early — make that way-too-early — top-25 polls for next season, Indiana isn't in most of them. The consensus is right outside the top-25 for IU.
So if the Hoosiers are going into next year as a top-30 or so team with seven or eight Big Ten teams ahead of them — one less with Purdue now — wouldn't it be great to add a piece like that?
Trust me, there is no one else in the transfer portal with his skill set. If Indiana is a top-30 team without him, they're a top-20 team with him, just like that.
Ten spots, with the snap of a finger? Absolutely.
And maybe more, because I already think Indiana 2021 is better than people think. Jackson-Davis is going to be a star — an All-American type of star — next year, Rob Phinisee will be healthy (we hope) and Jerome Hunter's second season could be sensational.
What if top-20 goes to top-10?
Last year, Haarms averaged 8.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 0.9 assists and 2.0 blocks per game while shooting 52.4 percent from the field, 31.3 percent from 3-point range and 63.4 percent from the free throw line. He also blocks shots. He's got 210 for his career, fourth all-time at Purdue, and that's something that Indiana has sorely lacked the past few years.
His scoring numbers were slightly higher a year earlier. They'd be even bigger next year, in the right setting. Haarms scored in double figures in 11 games this season, with his best game coming against Minnesota on Jan. 2, when he scored 26 points and had nine rebounds.
When there's a 7-foot-3 kid out there who's going to be 23 years old by next season and knows his way around the Big Ten, don't you have to at least kick the tires?
Don't you have to magine the possibilities?
Don't you have to wonder if that's the one extra piece Indiana needs to add another weekend to its mid-March schedule?
There have been more relationships that have gotten through the "forgive-and-forget'' phase that are more important than Hoosiers fans and Haarms, but certainly a lovefest would begin on his first 20/10 night in an Indiana uniform.
And I will tell you this, as a reporter who's been around both teams all year, he'd be the best interview on the podium, that's for sure. He's entertaining as hell, flowing hair falling in his eyes or not.
We've come to the end of the story now, and I'm still serious. I can still imagine this possibility. If it makes Indiana better, shouldn't Haarms be an option? If he can make this roster better, then isn't that what you want, the best team possible?
Matt Haarms in crimson and cream. Wouldn't that be something? He's that valuable. Kentucky fans are drooling already, that he'd be a perfect fit. So are dozens of other fan bases all over social media, dreaming about adding a big piece to their roster, dreaming about him making a difference.
If it's good enough for everyone else, why wouldn't it good enough for Indiana?
Just the stories themselves would be pure gold. And let's not forget this one simple statistic. In the Indiana-Purdue rivalry, Matt Haarms has five wins in the series in his three years, a perfect 5-0. Indiana's entire roster? ZERO. And that includes the coaching staff.
I don't get a vote in this one, but I'm all in. I'm all about a good story — and this would be one heck of a story.
You have to at least agree with that.