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Purdue
vs. Montevallo (exhibition)
When: 7 p.m. today
TV: BTN.com

Fort Wayne product expected to score for Boilers

Davis

– Purdue coach Matt Painter described Rapheal Davis as a “guy who can put the ball in the basket.”

Davis, from Fort Wayne, is part of the Boilermakers’ talented freshman class.

The freshmen will get their first test of the fall today against Montevallo at 7 p.m. at Mackey Arena. It’s the first of two exhibitions this week for the Boilermakers. The other is against Newberry at 8 p.m. on Saturday, also at Mackey Arena.

Painter broke down Davis and fellow freshmen Ronnie Johnson, Jay Simpson and A.J. Hammons last week at Purdue media day.

Davis was the team’s leading scorer in the four-game, 10-day Italy trip in August. The 6-foot-5 guard averaged 14.3 points per game.

“He had a very good trip to Italy in terms of scoring the basketball. And since practice has started, he’s done a better job in other areas,” Painter said. “… From Italy to now, he’s constantly trying. He puts in a lot of time in his game. He comes in early and shoots. He really cares and wants to be a player.”

Ronnie Johnson has emerged as a leading candidate at point guard.

“Ronnie Johnson has done a good job in terms of giving us a steady guy with the basketball and making good decisions,” Painter said. “And also being a threat to score the ball.”

Johnson, 6 feet and the younger brother of Purdue guard Terone Johnson, was, like Davis, Ronnie Johnson and Hammons, rated a four-star recruit by Rivals.com.

“He has a chance to make a real impact on our team and our league,” Painter said of Johnson.

Painter said Simpson is “probably” the team’s most talented player.

“That’s a big statement because we have some pretty good players,” Painter said.

Simpson – a 6-foot-9, 260 pound forward – did not play in Italy as he recovered from a foot injury. It put him a little behind in terms of conditioning. Painter said the goal is to get Simpson at 250 pounds.

“If we can do that, he can play longer periods of time. Right now, he has bursts of good play, but it doesn’t last very long. It lasts for a minute-and-a-half to two minutes and he’s gassed and you have to get him out of there,” Painter said. “Hopefully his conditioning can improve so he can show what he’s capable of doing.”

Conditioning and consistency are areas 7-foot center Hammons is working to improve.

“A.J. Hammons is going to be a really good player for us. The question with him is when is he going to be a good player for us,” Painter said. “There’s no doubt he can block shots and he can rebound. … He has all the makings of a great center, not only in the Big Ten, but in college basketball.”

lpope@jg.net

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