Acclaimed Purdue Freshman Caleb Swanigan Yet to Be Cleared by NCAA

Jason King@@JasonKingBRSenior Writer, B/R MagOctober 26, 2015

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - AUGUST 12:  Caleb Swanigan of the United States drives the ball against Yuta Kono of Japan during the FIBA U17 World Championships Group Match between Japan and United States of America at Al Shabab Club on August 12, 2014 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
Francois Nel/Getty Images

Highly touted Purdue freshman Caleb Swanigan has not been cleared to play by the NCAA, a source told Bleacher Report Monday.

Purdue coach Matt Painter confirmed the news when reached on his cellphone.

"We're still working through the process," Painter said. He declined to comment further.

According to the source, the NCAA is investigating the relationship between Swanigan and Roosevelt Barnes, a Purdue alum who adopted Swanigan in May of 2011, prior to his eighth-grade year.

At the time, Swanigan was 6'2", 360 pounds and living in a homeless shelter in Salt Lake City, Utah. His father, who was battling an extended substance abuse problem, was out of the picture, his mother was jobless and dependent on welfare checks and all five of his older siblings had dropped out of high school before earning their diplomas. Three of them had spent time in jail for charges including armed robbery, assault and theft.

Barnes, who is now Swanigan's legal father, spent the next four years helping Swanigan train in his native Fort Wayne, Indiana, while monitoring his diet and schoolwork. Swanigan now stands 6'9" and weighs 250 pounds. His success story was chronicled last week in a feature by Bleacher Report.

"I adopted Biggie because I loved him unconditionally," Barnes, 57, said in the article. "I wanted to show him that no matter what happened, I wasn't going anywhere. I felt like it was my responsibility as a man to help this kid, because no one else was going to do it.   

"All I wanted to do was love the kid and say, 'Hey, you've got a chance in life, man.'"

Some have speculated that Barnes, a certified sports agent, took an interest in Swanigan because of his potential to develop into an NBA-caliber player. Those close to the situation, however, say that theory is ludicrous. Barnes has helped represent athletes such as Deion Sanders, Ray Lewis, Emmitt Smith, Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy and other high-profile athletes in a career that has left him more than financially stable. So, his supporters say, he'd hardly view Swanigan as a meal ticket.

Even more illogical, Barnes said, is that he'd be able to predict that a 6'2", 360-pound 14-year-old could blossom into one of the top players in America.

"If I was going to go out and get a kid for basketball reasons, I'd go find a Chris Webber or a Shaquille O'Neal—a freak," Barnes said in the article. "The only thing freakish thing about (Swanigan) was how many calories he could devour. Maybe if I wanted to develop the next hot dog-eating champion, the next Joey Chestnut, people would have a legitimate gripe.

"I might be an agent, but before I'm an agent, I'm a man who loves the Lord. I'm a Christian, and I love kids. That's why I did what I did."

Barnes declined to comment when reached Monday.

Swanigan is the ninth-ranked player in the Class of 2015, according to ESPN.com. He earned McDonald's All-American honors as a senior at Homestead High School in Fort Wayne and was also tabbed as Indiana Mr. Basketball, making him the first Purdue signee to achieve that honor since Glenn Robinson in 1991. A Boilermakers press release labeled Swanigan as "perhaps Purdue's most-decorated recruit in school history."

He is expected to be a key piece for a Purdue squad that some predict to contend for a Big Ten title. The Boilermakers open the season Nov. 13 against North Carolina A&T. 

Jason King covers college sports for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JasonKingBR.