WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Matt Haarms didn't necessarily see the distinction of being the first commitment in Purdue men's basketball's 2017 recruiting class.
Those eagerly — or anxiously — awaiting the Boilermakers' first addition to an important class may disagree. Regardless of the timing, the 7-foot-2 native of The Netherlands, currently attending Sunrise Christian Academy in Bel Aire, Kansas, expressed a lot of excitement about becoming a Boilermaker.
"I have amazing trust in Coach (Matt) Painter and the entire coaching staff that they can make me as good as I want to be," Haarms said not long after finishing his call with Boilermaker associate head coach Jack Owens. "That's what they showed me on my visit. The entire coaching staff trusted me. I loved the staff, loved the guys."
Purdue coaches cannot comment publicly on commitments until they sign a National Letter of Intent. The early signing period for basketball runs from Nov. 9-16.
Haarms continues Purdue's recent tradition of attracting size, following A.J. Hammons (now with the Dallas Mavericks) and current 7-2 center Isaac Haas.
He said last month he was excited to recently get his first call from the Boilermakers — a program he admired while watching American college teams from The Netherlands. Haarms later played for a junior club team in Spain before moving on to Sunrise, the same program that developed Oklahoma star and current New Orleans Pelican guard Buddy Hield.
Haarms took an official visit to Purdue last month, his first. He also had visits planned for Vanderbilt, Washington State and Colorado. However, the latter option fell through when the Buffaloes landed Villa Park, Calif., power forward Evan Battey, another player who listed Purdue among his finalists.
Purdue's history of developing big men appealed to Haarms, who also talked a lot about trust.
When asked what resonated about his visit, Haarms said, "The way coach Painter talked about what we were about to do, the way they would develop me, the way he handles himself. Coach Painter is an extremely genuine guy. I believe everything he says. When he says something, you give a lot of value to what he's saying."
Haarms sees himself as a power forward capable of also playing center. He wants to build himself up physically to better guard opposing 5s. Haarms last month put his weight at around 224, with hopes of growing to 235 or 240.
Sunrise Academy coach Luke Barnwell described Haarms as skilled and mobile and able to "really fly and move laterally" defensively. He's also a strong student, with an ACT score of 29.
Barnwell last month backed up Haarms' assertion that he can be an asset away from the basket. He said Haarms had "the green light from me" as a 3-point shooter and praised his decision-making skills.
"He's not a thick kid," Barnwell said of Haarms' physique. "That will be his biggest challenge at that level is strength and size as far as those thick, physical, strong guys in the Big Ten.
"What he's great at is skill level, and then he's got a great basketball IQ and feel. He can bounce the ball and drive the ball and shoot the ball and he's a great passer for his size and length."
Purdue has targeted several high-profile big men for a 2017 class that could grow to total four or five players. Sophomore power forward Caleb Swanigan is expected to again pursue the NBA Draft process after the season. Haas could also look at professional opportunities.
Haarms endeavors to fill their shoes at Purdue before following them to the next level.
"Some of the greatest big men are coming out of Purdue," Haarms said. "That was accentuated on my visit. I kept coming back to that every time I was thinking about making a decision. Purdue is the place for me to be."
Contact Journal & Courier Purdue sports reporter Nathan Baird at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @nbairdjc.