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Purdue forward itching to play after redshirt year

– Oct. 30 can’t get here soon enough for Donnie Hale.

That’s the day of Purdue’s first exhibition basketball game, against Montevallo.

After redshirting last season, the 6-foot-8, 221-pound Hale is ready to contribute.

“I don’t want to say I didn’t go as hard last year, but it’s a lot easier to go harder and be energetic about things knowing that I’m doing this and I’m going to get to see the floor,” Hale said at Purdue media day Monday. “Doing the hard work and getting through it and knowing this is going to pay off Oct. 30.”

Purdue coach Matt Painter said Hale has emerged as the power forward for the Boilermakers.

“Donnie Hale has done a very good job of bringing energy and rebounding,” Painter said.

Hale finished second in scoring and rebounding during Purdue’s four-game Italian tour in August, averaging 11.8 points and 7.5 rebounds.

“Italy was a learning experience. It was nice to get out there and actually play again,” Hale said. “I had to take advantage of that. It was real easy to get amped up for the games. It had been awhile since I had played. That was fun.”

Hale averaged 18 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.3 blocks as a senior at New Albany. He was rated the No. 144 recruit overall, and No. 25 among power forwards, by Rivals.com. He spent 2010-11 at Bridgton Prep, where he averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Hale appeared in Purdue’s two exhibition games last year and led the squad with an average of 7 rebounds in the two contests. The Boilermakers decided to redshirt him. Painter said Hale benefited by getting in shape.

“I think it really helped him in his progress,” Painter said. “I think he’s a more mature, bigger, stronger player. He’s finally in shape, and so now he can go out, change ends and run and use what the Lord gave him.

“He’s got a lot of athleticism. He’s very long.”

Hale learned a lot through the process.

“Being redshirted helped me on and off the court,” Hale said. “It helped me to be patient.”

Hale said his role will include defending a lot of different sizes on defense and knocking down the open shots on offense. He has been working on his range.

And he’s ready to rebound.

“You want to get playing time here,” Hale said, “you have to rebound.”

lpope@jg.net

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