Penn State Basketball

Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan serves as example for Penn State big men

Penn State’s Mike Watkins goes in for a basket over Morgan State’s Tyjhai Byers during a game in December 2016.
Penn State’s Mike Watkins goes in for a basket over Morgan State’s Tyjhai Byers during a game in December 2016. adrey@centredaily.com

In his six seasons at Penn State, coach Patrick Chambers hasn’t seen another player put together a campaign like Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan.

“He is that cut above right now, playing that well,” Chambers said at the team’s media availability Monday.

The Nittany Lions (14-13, 6-8 Big Ten) will take on Swanigan and the No. 14 Boilermakers (22-5, 11-3) at the Bryce Jordan Center at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Purdue is touting its 6-foot-9, 250-pound forward as a National Player of the Year candidate, and his numbers place him among the country’s best players.

The Boilermaker forward leads the country with 23 double-doubles, ranks second in the Big Ten in scoring with 18.9 points per game and leads the league with 13.0 rebounds per game. Swanigan has been a force inside, finishing with at least 20 points and 20 rebounds in four games, and he’s been a threat on the perimeter, shooting 48.3 percent from 3-point range.

He finished with 19 points, 12 rebounds and four assists in Purdue’s win over Penn State on Jan. 21.

Chambers thinks his big men can learn from Swanigan.

The coach shared an ESPN.com article about Swanigan with Mike Watkins, Julian Moore and Satchel Pierce and praised the Purdue forward’s work ethic.

“This is the work ethic that you need if you really want to chase your dreams,” Chambers said of the lesson for his players. “There’s no cutting corners and you got to buy in, buy into yourself, buy into the program, because all the resources are here for you to be a great player.”

Chambers said he wants Watkins to focus on developing his post game, something else he can learn from watching Swanigan.

“He seals hard, he sets great screens, he’s demanding a double team because of the prep work that he does before he gets the ball, so little things like that,” Chambers said. “When he doesn’t even have the ball, he’s working and he knows where he’s going to get it.”

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