Purdue basketball's 2023 recruiting class suffered a significant blow Wednesday when four-star combo guard Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn announced he would decommit from the Boilermakers and re-open his recruitment.
“First off, I would like to thank Coach (Matt) Painter and the rest of the Purdue coaching staff for recruiting me to the fullest. I would also like to thank the Purdue men’s basketball team for showing their love and support," Gibbs-Lawhorn said in a statement to On3 announcing his decision. “After much thought and thorough discussions with my family, I have decided to reopen my recruitment. I look forward to continuing the search for the program that is the best fit for the next chapter of my basketball career.”
The 6-foot-1, 165-pound Gibbs-Lawhorn is the No. 48 player in the country, per 247 Sports, and the No. 12 combo guard. Without him, Purdue's only current commitment is Myles Colvin, son of former Boilermaker football standout Rosevelt Colvin, III.
Gibbs-Lawhorn is a Lafayette native and played his freshman season at McCutcheon, averaging 21 points. He transferred to Real Salt Lake Academy in Utah for his sophomore season, but missed time with a foot injury. He then played part of his junior campaign at Montverde Academy in Florida and won a high school national championship alongside incoming Indiana Hoosiers Jalen Hood-Schifino and Malik Reneau. He committed to Purdue in December.
"Purdue is more family-related than any other school,” Gibbs-Lawhorn told On3 at the time of his commitment. “There is already a family bond. Everyone knows everyone, and everyone has good vibes. ... Honestly, when I first came out to Utah, I wanted to be done with Indiana. When I first moved out here, I was like 'Man, I'm never going back.'
“But when I went on that first unofficial visit (to Purdue), taking that photoshoot, talking to the players and everyone, it kind of changed my decision a little bit. Then after my official visit (when the Boilermakers played Indianapolis in an exhibition game prior to the 2021-22 season), I was kind of leaning on Purdue. I just felt like Purdue is where I wanted to be.”
The slightly-built guard played on the EYBL summer circuit this year on a team that also featured Michigan State commitment Jeremy Fears. The former Purdue commit averaged 16.2 points, three assists, 2.2 rebounds and 1.5 steals while shooting 48% from the field and 38% from the free-throw line.
He played in Fort Wayne in April at the Bill Hensley Memorial Run N Slam and this reporter was impressed by his athleticism, shot-making ability, body control and defensive intensity.
The reasons for Gibbs-Lawhorn's decommitment are unclear, though some Purdue fans wondered the situation was akin to that of Nijel Pack, a former Kansas State guard from Indianapolis who spurned the Boilermakers on the transfer market for an $800,000 name, image and likeness deal at Miami (Florida).
Boilermakers center Zach Edey threw some fuel on that fire when he obliquely tweeted (and then deleted):
"Choosing a school just for a pay check is so wild to me."
Gibbs-Lawhorn apparently heard the speculation because he tweeted (and then also deleted) a reference to Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant's disdain for bandwagon fans during the Grizzlies' playoff run last season:
"Y’all so quick to speak about a bag not knowing what I came from. What Ja say that 'STAY OVER ON THAT SIDE'"
Gibbs-Lawhorn also had an offer from Indiana when he committed to Purdue.