In finding a new assistant, Matt Painter had several directions he could have traveled. When his first phone call was Brian Cardinal, it lent a hint to what the head coach was thinking.
Matt Painter was able to be creative in finding a replacement for Micah Shrewsberry. His two other assistants, Jack Owens and Greg Gary, combine to boast 31 years of coaching experience at the college level. And that allowed Painter to peg former Boilermaker captain Brandon Brantley as Purdue’s new assistant coach.
The search for a new assistant brought Painter through many résumés with decades of coaching experience—some established names in the industry. But he went with an alum of the program who has zero years of college coaching experience and tons of upside.
Brantley’s basketball résumé lists all kinds of accolades from his playing career. Most importantly, he has a winning pedigree. He has been highly successful in the game. Now, it’s time for that next step.
“[Brantley] has worked very hard to stay in and around the game after a successful career overseas," Painter said. "As a three-time Big Ten champion as a player, he brings a wealth of experience in understanding what it takes to be successful at the highest level. I am confident he can teach and mentor our players into well-rounded student-athletes in a first-class manner."
The reaction to Purdue’s new hire has been overwhelmingly positive, with current and former Boilermakers, fans and pundits alike offering plenty of praise.
What did Purdue lose with Micah Shrewsberry? A basketball junkie, a well-connected recruiter with local ties, and a likeable mentor for the players. What does Purdue gain in Brantley? It appears all that and more.
Brantley coached with the Indianapolis-based EG10 AAU program, bringing him countless connections in the local basketball scene. He has also coached as high school and summer league level.
Over time, Brantley will become an established college coach. For now, he’ll have the chance to grow under Painter’s wing.
"This is a great opportunity to learn from and coach with one of the best coaching staffs in America,” Brantley said. “I am very excited to come back to Purdue and have been trying to get to this level for a couple of years. It is a blessing to be able to come back and work with this program.”
And that’s why this move makes so much sense. Who cares about how many years on the bench Brantley has under his belt? Painter found a guy who brings passion and energy to the position.
Brantley could be instrumental in the growth of sophomore center A.J. Hammons, Purdue’s promising project who was wildly inconsistent last year. He’ll be someone Hammons and the rest of the Boilermakers can lean on. His background as a former team captain is something the players can relate to.
It could be argued that Brantley’s greatest impact will be made next July, when the coaches hit the road for open-evaluation period. Let him put that passion and those connections to work.
Brantley will represent his alma mater well.