Report: Purdue freshman Caleb Swanigan not yet eligible to play

Purdue big man Caleb Swanigan is not yet eligible for the upcoming season, according to a report from Bleacher Report.

“We’re still working through the process,” Painter said. He declined to comment further.

According to the source, the NCAA is investigating the relationship between Swanigan and Roosevelt Barnes, a Purdue alum who adopted Swanigan in May of 2011, prior to his eighth-grade year.

At the time, Swanigan was 6’2″, 360 pounds and living in a homeless shelter in Salt Lake City, Utah. His father, who was battling an extended substance abuse problem, was out of the picture, his mother was jobless and dependent on welfare checks and all five of his older siblings had dropped out of high school before earning their diplomas. Three of them had spent time in jail for charges including armed robbery, assault and theft.

“I adopted Biggie because I loved him unconditionally,” Barnes, 57, said in the article. “I wanted to show him that no matter what happened, I wasn’t going anywhere. I felt like it was my responsibility as a man to help this kid, because no one else was going to do it.

“All I wanted to do was love the kid and say, ‘Hey, you’ve got a chance in life, man.'”

Swanigan was the No. 18 recruit in the country according to 247Sports, and is Purdue’s highest-rated incoming player since they brought in fellow McDonald’s All-American Mike Robinson in 1996. He’s one of the best rebounders in the incoming 2015 freshman class, and has a soft touch around the rim.

It seems to be a bit weird that the NCAA would be particularly investigating the relationship between player and guardian in this case, given that Swanigan was a total non-prospect as a basketball player when Barnes took him in. The likely reasoning here is that Barnes is a former football player at Purdue and current professional football agent. The NCAA probably wants to do their due diligence on how Swanigan ended up decommiting from Michigan State and then deciding to attend Purdue. However, he’d hardly be the first player to decide to go to the school that his father/guardian attended, so it remains unclear what exactly the details are of the hold-up. Plus, it’s not a great look for the NCAA that this remains an issue when they had all summer to take care of it, even if Swanigan was the last elite recruit to commit to college nationally.

The 6-8, 250-pound forward could be a difference-maker in the middle for the Boilermakers this year, who are currently the No. 26 team in CBSSports.com’s Top-25 (and one). If he is unable to go, it’s worth noting that the Boilermakers are better equipped to play without him than most teams would be. The team already has All-Big Ten performer A.J. Hammons at center, plus one of the better young big men in the Big Ten in Isaac Haas. Those two could combine to handle the bulk of the minutes at the 5 with all-everything swiss-army knife Vince Edwards sliding down to the 4 if for some reason Swanigan can’t go from Day One.

Caleb Swanigan is not yet eligible at Purdue. (USATSI)
Caleb Swanigan is not yet eligible at Purdue. (USATSI)

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