Painter's 2007 class was in the top-5 to top-10 depending on which magazine was doing the ranking...and Matty simply had to have that class make an instant impact due to attrition during the spring prior to the original Baby Boilers' arrival in God's Country.
Things are much different now.
The last four seasons, Purdue has been a regular among the best in the conference, is a perennial NCAA tourney team, had been ranked for nearly four-straight seasons and the program is back on sure footing. But the incoming class is important for a number of reasons.
First, and probably least-importantly, this class helped reaffirm some faith in Painter as a recruiter. Sure, the '09 & '10 classes had a total of three 4-star players, but they were all guards. Many thought Painter was having trouble getting highly-touted bigs to take Purdue seriously in the wake of the past few seasons.
The class of '12 has a skilled SF in Jay Simpson who can do a lot of different things, but has a big body right out of the box (6'9" 253lbs). His skillset has been compared to Hummel's, but he reminds me a bit of the young Draymond Green at MSU a few years ago, minus some of the baby fat. Simpson (like Davis) committed years ago and has been excited to be a Boilermaker for a long time...Glad he's officially coming.
The other big man in this class is a true, back-to-the-basket player with bigtime size, good hands and decent footwork. He's officially listed as 7'0" 275, but is probably an inch or two below that magical seven foot mark. But, he's got long arms, and is physically-imposing...so it won't matter. Hammons has been a big guy since he entered high school, but has worked on fitness and his body...I think he'll even change more before arriving on campus.
A few people have expressed concern with his work ethic, but I don't really have that. I think he knows what he's getting into at Purdue. But his laid-back demeanor might have be interpreted as not caring by some. I see Hammons as an atypical high prospect...he doesn't have a twitter account, doesn't seem to care to do things like everybody else...just does things his own way.
Another very physical player in the class is Raphael Davis. Davis was the first domino to fall in this class, years ago. He's a very big guard (6'5" 200lbs) who can use his strength on both ends of the court, but is still smooth on offense. He's the most under-rated player in the class, in my opinion and will be a good fit in Painter's offense because of his length in passing lanes and ability to finish on the other end. His salesmanship and Terone's presence probably got the next guy to commit to Purdue.
Lastly, but surely not least is Ronnie Johnson (5'10" 160lbs.). Johnson is the younger brother of TJohn...he'll thankfully bring the number of Johnsons back to three on the Boiler squad next season...which will undoubtedly confuse Cliz as they three Johnsons will most-assuredly be on the floor at the same time a few times next season. Some of the recruiting mags called Johnson a poor man's Yogi Ferrell prior to last season. But the AAU season saw Ferrell's stock drop a bit and Johnson's soar. This guy is a poor-man's nothing. In spite of having his older brother on the team next season, Johnson will make an identity for himself quickly...especially in the wake of LewJack graduating. Johnson is a lefty- I think the last left-handed point guard Purdue had that I can remember was Alan Eldridge(?).
One real positive that comes from these guys signing is now we can talk about them and look forward to their arrival on campus. Just because it's happened before, I'm always cautious about verbal commitments changing their minds at the last minute...and am very pleased with this class.
Welcome to the greatest university in the land, gentlemen.