Why Purdue coach Matt Painter says he needed to ‘part ways’ with BYU’s Kanon Catchings

Catchings withdrew his commitment from Purdue and landed at BYU earlier this week.

Kanon Catchings signing with BYU may represent one of the biggest recruiting wins in program history.

But for Purdue coach Matt Painter, the Catchings recruitment has a different backstory.

Catchings — a four-star forward rated 35th on ESPN’s top 100 — de-committed from Purdue and landed at BYU. Painter said Catchings was worried about his role with Purdue next season and wanted guarantees that Painter wasn’t willing to make.

“I can’t anoint a role to somebody out of thin air. You walk in, compete,” Painter told reporters this week. “Zach Edey didn’t have a role. Fletcher Loyer didn’t have a role. They came in and earned what they got. That’s the way it is.”

Painter said Catchings asked out of his letter of intent, then, the next day, Catchings said he was feeling better about coming to Purdue. But Painter wanted to move on and “part ways.”

“If something happened, it would be one thing. Nothing happened,” Painter said. “It was just one of those deals where he was concerned about his role and just wanted out of his letter. He went back the next day and said everything was good. And it was just like, ‘Nah, it is probably better that we part ways if you are questioning things before things start.’”

Painter has a public history of not overpromising recruits. As Purdue made a run to the national championship game last year, Painter often discussed Edey’s recruitment.

The future national player of the year originally did not want to redshirt out of high school. He wanted a place to play right away. As he was considering his options down the stretch, Painter told Edey he could not promise him immediate playing time but would give him the chance to win the job. Edey ended up coming to Purdue anyway.

In Catchings’ case, the Overtime Elite product is seen as a one-and-done college player. He is projected to go late in the first round of the 2025 NBA draft.

When Catchings decommitted from Purdue, BYU leveraged its Overtime Elite connection. New assistant coach Tim Fanning previously coached at Overtime Elite and had worked with Catchings. BYU got him on campus and he is one of the highest-rated recruits in BYU history.

Painter said he “hopes everything works for him” at BYU, but Catchings’ de-commitment was a playing time issue.

“More than anything it is the happiness of the players and the happiness of the team. It’s a competition and it’s difficult,” Painter said. “But if right away you just sense like, ‘Hey man, you are starting off on the wrong foot, and if somebody wants out of their letter, I think it is best to go separate ways.’ We wish him good luck and hope everything works for him.”