Who is Matt Haarms? 5 things to know about the Purdue center

Although Purdue basketball got off to a good start in the 2018 NCAA Tournament by defeating Cal State Fullerton, 74-48, on Friday, the team found out after the game that it will likely be without one of its best players for the remainder of the season. Center Isaac Haas suffered a fractured elbow during the win as a result of a hard fall.

Related: 2018 NCAA Tournament bracket, scores, schedule

However, the tournament will not stop because of an injury to one of the top teams, and the No. 2-seeded Purdue will have to follow a next-man-up mentality. That next man for the Boilermakers is redshirt freshman Matt Haarms.

Haarms — Purdue’s backup center from the Netherlands — has the opportunity to fill in for Haas and lead the Boilermakers to a deep run it the tournament.

While we did go over a few things to know about Haarms after Haas went down on Friday, here are five more things to know about Haarms going into Purdue’s second-round matchup with Butler on Sunday.

5 things to know about Matt Haarms

1. Matt Haarms playing basketball at the age of 11 and came to the United States to play high school and college basketball.

Haarms was born on April 22, 1997 in Amsterdam. He grew up in the Netherlands, where he first starting playing basketball when he was 11 years old.

When Haarms realized that he wanted to focus on basketball, he later left the Netherlands prior to his junior year to spend a year in Spain, where he played club basketball with the intent of improving his game. Eventually, Haarms found his way to the United States where he played basketball for Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas.

While playing for Sunrise Christian Academy, Haarms had offers from Purdue, Colorado, Vanderbilt and Washington State, but ultimately chose the Boilermakers because of their strong history with developing big men. Since the 1951-52 season, Haarms is only the sixth international player to play at Purdue.

2. Coming into Purdue, 247Sports ranked Haarms a 3-star prospect

247Sports ranked Haarms a 3-star prospect, and he was ranked the No. 6 player to come out of Kansas in his recruiting class. Among centers in his class, he was ranked No. 34.

3. Matt Haarms is taller than Isaac Haas

Haas was so good at Purdue because he used his size to his advantage. The 7-foot-2, 290-pound center was a key cog in Purdue’s offense and defense. Offensively was an efficient scorer and could also set up his teammates if he drew a double-team. Defensively, he was the team’s rim protector, averaging 1.3 blocks per game this season.

However, what if we told you that Haarms is taller than Haas?

That’s right, Haarms stands one-inch taller than Haas at 7-foot-3. While Haas has Haarms beat as far as weight — Haarms weighs 250 pounds — the Boilermakers should be able to take advantage of Haarms size just like they did with Haas.

4. Matt Haarms averaged more than 16 minutes per game this season as a redshirt freshman

Haarms may not have been starting for the Boilermakers, but he definitely made an impact for them this season.

In 35 games with Purdue this season, Haarms averaged 16.6 minutes per game. In those minutes, he averaged 4.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game.

5. Outside of the program, Matt Haarms may be the most disliked player on the team

In his time playing in Spain, Haarms would often get booed by the crowd, according to an article by Journal & Courier’s Nathan Baird. However, Haarms would thrive on it and use it to fuel his play on the court.

In the article, Haarms’ mother, Martine van Hoorn, said the following:

“If I had a whole stadium screaming toward me, I would take it very personal. He had this almost — pardon my language — (expletive) you, I can show you. You can boo, do whatever you want, but I will show you.”

As the article mentions, he was often booed for playing with “an emotion-fueled motor that gets under people’s skin.”

In fact, in the article, Purdue senior point guard P.J. Thompson said that Haarms is “probably the most disliked person on our team,” outside of the program.

While the other teams and their fans may hate playing against Haarms, Purdue players and its fans love Haarms’ emotions on the court.

“My Twitter mentions blow up after the game,” Haarms said in the article. “People don’t enjoy seeing my face if they’re not Purdue fans.

“I don’t mind, though. People that love me are Purdue fans and that’s what matters to me. I don’t care about anyone else’s opinions.”

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