My Two Cents: Jahaad Proctor an Instant Success Story for Purdue

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — It only took five years for Jahaad Proctor to become an overnight sensation.

Proctor, a 22-year-old grad transfer whose adventurous college career has taken him from Iona to High Point and now Purdue, made the most of his Boilermakers debut Wednesday night, scoring 26 points in the 79-57 win over Green Bay.

If you're going to have a last dance, you might as well kick up those heels right from the beginning. The 6-foot-3 fifth-year player from Harrisburg, Pa., did just that.

"He's got a good knack for scoring and he's got a mature pulse to him. He really helped us out tonight,'' Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "He was a consistent scorer before he came here, and we've actually been trying to get him shoot the ball more. The guys he's replacing (Carsen Edwards and Ryan Cline) that we created shots for, they always shot the ball in those situations. Jahaad's been passing up a lot of those shots.

"You harp on moving the basketball so much,  that the guys who are pleasers, that resonates too much with them sometimes. Once you do move it and you have openings, you have to take the good shot. When you play good people, it's hard to get a good shot, so when you get one, you have to take it. You just have to capitalize and take what they give you.''

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Purdue grad transfer Jahaad Proctor scored 26 points in his Boilermakers debut on Wednesday night in the 79-57 victory over Green Bay at Mackey Arena. (Photos courtesy of Purdue Athletics)

Proctor had success at High Point, a small North Carolina school that plays in the Big South Conference, but he always felt like he could succeed on a larger stage, so after graduating last year after averaging 19.2 points per game, he entered his name in the transfer portal.

He got calls from dozens of schools, but Purdue seemed like the best fit, both athletically and academically. That meant a lot to the two-time all-academic selection from Harrisburg, Pa. 

He's fit in immediately, which was evident from his debut. It didn't surprise Painter and his teammates, and it didn't surprise Green Bay coach Linc Darner either.

"We knew he was really good. We saw he averaged 20 a game at High Point,'' said Green Bay coach Linc Darner, a former Purdue player in the early 1990s who got a nice ovation during pregame introductions. "He had a great game, and when he gets going downhill, he's hard to guard.'' 

Proctor takes pride in that, in being difficult to guard. He can shoot the 3 — he was 26-for-52 in his final eight games a year ago — but he can also get to the rim and hit those midrange shots that most people avoid anymore.

He loved everything about his first experience at sold-out Mackey Arena, and the 14,408 in attendance loved everything about his debut.

"It was fun, very exciting. I never played in front of a home crowd that big,'' said Proctor, who played in front of Big South crowds that averaged about 1,500.  "This is what I always wanted.''

Proctor has adjusted quickly, but he's still a little slow with the trigger in practice. It's coming, though.

"If I don't shoot it once in practice and he gets on me, I know he doesn't have to say it again,'' Proctor said with a laugh. "I don't wan't to have him mad at me.

"Most of the times, I don't like to settle for jump shots. Nine times out of ten, when you take it hard to the rim, you're going to get fouled anyway. We're a more efficient team that way when we get downhill. He always gets on us for being more aggressive and getting our shots. Their bigs, they weren't stepping out on us, so we took advantage of that opportunity.''

Proctor played 37 minutes and 33 seconds, more than anyone as Purdue kept its rotation to just eight players. Sophomore guard Sasha Stepanovic, who probably would have seen some of those minutes, missed the game with a foot injury. He got hurt in practice Monday and his return is unknown. "Maybe a week or two,'' Painter said.

Proctor, on Day 1, helped ease a lot of concerns for Purdue folks. Everyone knows the Boilermakers will always be good defensively, and they were again Wednesday night, allowing only 12 points in the first 15 minutes to a decent Green Bay team that has weapons.

It's on the offensive end where there's worry because of all that Edwards and Cline did last year. Proctor, for one night anyway, allied some of those fears.

An overnight success. But years in the making.

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