Caleb Swanigan, Former Purdue Basketball Star and First-Round NBA Draft Pick, Dead at 25

by Bryan Fyalkowski
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Caleb Swanigan, a former Purdue standout who was a first-round NBA draft pick by the Portland Trail Blazers, has passed away at the age of 25. WANE 15 in Fort Wayne, Indiana says it reached out to the local coroner’s office and Swanigan died of natural causes.

Swanigan was a five-star recruit out of Fort Wayne’s Homestead High School. He earned Indiana Mr. Basketball honors as a senior in 2015 and was also selected as a McDonald’s All-American. Swanigan chose to attend local program Purdue over high-profile schools like Arizona, Duke and Kentucky.

One of the Best Boilermakers Ever

In two seasons with the Boilermakers, Caleb Swanigan started 69 games and averaged 14.4 points and 10.4 rebounds per contest. While at Purdue, he carried a 3.34 cumulative GPA while majoring in education.

In his rookie year, Swanigan made the Big Ten All-Freshman team. He averaged 10.2 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists while starting all 34 games. His 282 points scored, eight double-doubles and 8.3 rebounds per game still stand as program records for a freshman.

The power forward then got even better in his second year. Swanigan earned Big Ten Player of the Year honors while also being named a unanimous First Team All-American. He averaged 18.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists while becoming the first Power Five player in 25 years to accumulate at least 600 points, 400 rebounds and 100 assists in a single season.

He declared for the 2017 NBA Draft and was selected 27th overall by the Trail Blazers. In 75 total games with Portland and Sacramento, Swanigan scored 169 points and grabbed 218 rebounds. He stepped away from the NBA during the 2020 season when the league played in the “Bubble.”

Swanigan – also known as “Biggie” – grew up in a very difficult situation. His story is highlighted in this feature article from 2015 by Bleacher Report’s Jason King. He chose to wear No. 50 to honor his late father, who passed away at the age of 50.

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