Champaign native Jay Simpson didn’t get an opportunity to take the floor against his hometown Illini on Wednesday. The Purdue freshman big man is out for the remainder of the season after suffering a foot injury against Notre Dame on Dec. 15.
The 6-foot-9 product of Champaign Central and later La Lumiere Prep in Indiana will seek a medical hardship waiver to retain four years of eligibility.
“He’s going to be a really good player. He’s got to get some things taken care of from a health standpoint. He’s made really good strides in that area. He’s still got to take care of some things and get healthy. Once he gets healthy, he can really make some improvements,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said.
Simpson was averaging 2.6 points and 2.3 rebounds in about eight minutes per game through 10 contests before going down.
“I was very disappointed when it first happened,” Simpson said. “I talked to my mom and my coaches from back home, and they just told me that everything happens for a reason. I’m not happy it happened, but I’m not mad about it. I’ll be able to get better, and I’ll be a freshman again next year.”
Conditioning has been an issue for Simpson since his days as a standout at Central. Painter said his weight ballooned to 280 pounds this season.
The coach reports the freshman is down to about 245 now.
“He still struggles to play at a high level for more than two to three minutes. We have to get that figured out for him,” Painter said. “We’re just working on him competing and playing hard every single day. In the half court, if you’re playing in the Gus Macker, he’d be a hell of a pickup. But, since they’re going to make us play in transition in major college basketball, he’s going to have to make strides in that area.”