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Swanigan in no rush to make NBA decision

Purdue standout among six players to work out for Pacers

Caleb Swanigan was surrounded by media after his workout with the Pacers Monday. (1070 the Fan Photo)

Caleb Swanigan sounded like a 20-year-old in a wrestling match between his heart and head.

After going through a pre-draft workout with five other NBA prospects for the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Monday, Swanigan talked about closing in on his degree, competing for a national championship with the Boilermakers and being patient with the decision about his future plans.

“I’ve just started to go through this NBA process,” said Swanigan, who hasn’t hired an agent, protecting his college eligibility. “It would take news for me to leave Purdue. I’m at Purdue right now. I’m still enrolled. I’m still taking classes. The decision would be to leave Purdue, not to go with the NBA if you’re getting what I’m saying.”

For all the world, it sounded like his heart was still very much in West Lafayette.

Then again, he also talked about how most of the advice he has received has been to make the jump, how the decision might be less about him and more purely pragmatic.

“It’s really hard, but you can feel what you need to do and you’ve just got to make the best decision for you,” he said. “Even if it’s something you may not want to do, you’ve always got to make the best choice for your family and other people in your life.”

The thing is, the NBA knows pretty much all it needs to know about Swanigan: he’s a traditional power forward in a game that doesn’t have much need for traditional power forwards. Sure, he’s added range to his jump shot, hitting .447 from the arc last season, but the greater issue is defending the more agile, mobile stretch fours that have become so prevalent.

Even though he’s done everything scouts told him to do last year when he went through this exploratory process before deciding to return to Purdue, Swanigan’s stock is still modest, despite averages of 18.5 points and 12.5 rebounds, despite being one of four finalists for the Naismith Player of the Year award. 

At the moment, he’s widely projected to be a second-round pick.

If he knew he’d be a first-rounder, this decision would be easier.

“Any kid that wants to play in the NBA, you hear something like that, you should take it as an opportunity,” he said. “But at the same time, guys like (Tim) Duncan, guys like Klay Thompson, Steph (Curry), they spent three years in college. So there’s no rush. It’s just more of me feeling sure a team is serious about me and has a plan for me.”

Swanigan was measured at the NBA Draft Combine and said he met with 14 teams, but did not participate in the scrimmages. The Pacers were his first team workout; next up are the Nets on Thursday. And so the process will go, teams gathering data on Swanigan, and him on them. Sometime before the deadline of June 12 his decision will come, but probably not long before because, as he said numerous times Monday, he’s in no rush.

It’s a bit of a departure from last year, when it seemed like Swanigan was more eager to jump to the NBA than he is now, was in more of a hurry to move into the next phase of his life.

“You could say that was fair,” he said. “I’m not in a rush this year. I’m just more trying to figure out what I’m doing. It’s still early.”


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