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February 6, 2008

Moore leads strong Purdue freshman class

The revolution at Purdue wasn't supposed to be in full swing for another year or two.

But the youthful Boilermakers decided not to wait.

Boasting the Big Ten's youngest lineup, Purdue is off to an 8-1 start in conference play. That's tied for first with Wisconsin, ahead of Indiana and Michigan State. Nice company.

Guard E'Twaun Moore is a member of Matt Painter's ballyhooed 2007 recruiting class, ranked by Rivals.com as the sixth-best in the nation. Moore averaged 18 points and shot 68.2 percent (15 of 22) last week as Purdue beat Iowa and Illinois to run its winning streak to seven. For his efforts, Moore is Rivals' National Freshman of the Week for the week ending Feb. 3.

"We definitely weren't picked to start off this well," Moore told Rivals.com. "But we had faith. We know winning doesn't come easy. We just give it our best."

The best of Moore and Co. has been plenty good enough so far. Their only conference loss came in East Lansing. They've won road games at Iowa, Penn State and Illinois, and they boast a home win over the Badgers, with the return date in Madison coming this Saturday.

Moore is the Boilermaker's second-leading scorer (11 points per game), and he's second in assists (2.5), too. He also is one of three Purdue players shooting better than 40 percent from 3-point range.

YOUTH MOVEMENT
A look at the freshmen in the Purdue recruiting class ranked sixth in the country by Rivals.com:
NameRank/starsPurdue production
E'Twaun Moore 35th/4 11 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.5 apg
JaJuan Johnson 42nd/4 6.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg
Robbie Hummel 75th/4 10.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.9 apg
Scott Martin 76th/4 9.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg
Another of the top 3-point shooters is freshman forward Robbie Hummel. He's the third-leading scorer (10.1 points per game). He also leads the team in rebounding (5.8), assists (2.9) and field-goal percentage (47.8).

Painter is getting even more from the stellar freshman class. Scott Martin is averaging 9.3 points and 3.8 rebounds, and JaJuan Johnson is averaging 6.0 points and 3.5 rebounds.

Moore, Hummel and Martin played AAU ball together for the SYF Players. That familiarity has made the transition easier.

"I knew the guys from Valparaiso, Robbie and Scott, pretty well because of playing together in the summer," said Moore, who's from East Chicago, Ind. "And I knew JaJuan pretty well, too. We talked on the phone a lot.

"We definitely knew we had a chance to be good, but we didn't know how good we could be right away."

It's a group that should be with Painter for a while.

"I think that's fair to say (that no one in the class is a one-and-done player)," Moore said. "We're a team and we'll make decisions together. We'll do what's best for us."

OTHER NOMINEES FOR PLAYER OF THE WEEK:
C Kevin Love, UCLA
Love was extremely efficient in the Bruins' sweep of the Pac-10's Arizona schools, posting two double-doubles and shooting 78.3 percent (18 of 23). He had 26 points and 11 rebounds in an 82-60 drubbing of the Wildcats.
F Austin Daye, Gonzaga
Daye had the biggest week of his young career, posting 19 points and 13 rebounds against Portland and dropping a career-high 22 on Santa Clara.

Ryan Anderson,
F, California
The Pac-10 is loaded with talented big men. Only one of them averaged 30 points and 13 rebounds last week in an impressive road sweep of the league's Washington schools.

"I've said it all week: Ryan Anderson is one of the most underrated players in the conference," Washington State coach Tony Bennett said after Anderson had 27 points and nine rebounds for the Golden Bears in a 69-64 upset. "He's tremendous. He can score in a variety of ways, and he showed that."

He was even better two nights later, lighting up the Huskies for 33 points and 17 rebounds.

For the week, he shot a sizzling 62.5 percent (20 of 32), and he was even better from outside the arc (64.3 percent; 9-for-14). He's the leading scorer (22.2 points per game) in the Pac-10 and ranks third in rebounding (10 per game).

OTHER NOMINEES:
G Sonny Weems, Arkansas
Against two ranked teams, Weems shot 51.7 percent (15 of 29), including 8-for-14 3-pointers (57.1 percent). Weems, a senior, averaged 19.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists. He scored a team-high 22 points against Mississippi State and added a game-high 17 against Florida.
F Luke Harangody, Notre Dame
He had 31 points and 14 rebounds in a win over Providence and 29 points and 14 rebounds in a win over DePaul. He's now averaging a double-double for the season at 20.4 points and 10 rebounds, and he's a major reason the Irish are in second place in the rugged Big East.

Brandon Johnson,
G, San Diego
There's an interloper tied with Gonzaga and Saint Mary's atop the standings in the West Coast Conference.

San Diego (13-11 overall, 6-1 in the WCC) served notice last week that it wouldn't be going away, either. The Toreros knocked off Santa Clara and stunned Saint Mary's behind the play of Johnson, a junior guard who is Rivals.com's Mid-Major Player of the Week.

Johnson averaged 21.0 points, 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals and shot 50 percent (16 of 32) for the two games. He had 19 points in a 53-51 win over the Broncos, then dropped a game-high 25 against Saint Mary's, including 20 in the second half. San Diego prevailed 63-55.

Johnson leads the Toreros in scoring (16.9 points per game) and assists (3.3). If the name sounds familiar, it may be because he scored 27 points against Kentucky at Rupp Arena on Dec. 29 in San Diego's biggest victory until it took down Saint Mary's.

Bob McClellan is the college basketball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at bmcclellan@rivals.com.



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