Purdue grad Robbie Hummel out to prove he’s healthy and he belongs in the NBA
By Michael Osipoff 648-3137 or firstname.lastname@example.org June 7, 2012 11:42PM
Robbie Hummel, from Purdue, talks with reporters during a gathering of top prospects for the NBA basketball pre-draft combine, Thursday, June 7, 2012, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Updated: July 9, 2012 6:19AM
CHICAGO — Naturally, Robbie Hummel’s twice-reconstructed right knee is a focus in relation to his draft prospects.
He’d prefer not to have to address it over and over again, but he admittedly would be “naive” to think it’s not an issue.
But beyond proving he’s healthy, what can the Valparaiso High and Purdue graduate provide for a pro team?
“I can definitely shoot the ball, I think that’s my biggest asset I bring to a team,” Hummel said at the NBA Draft Combine on Thursday. “I think I play with a pretty high basketball IQ. I think team defense is a strength of mine, I can understand the concepts, what a team is trying to install on defense. I think I’m an underrated rebounder, to be honest. ... I do bring size to the table as well.”
Hummel, listed at 6-foot-8 during his illustrious career with the Boilermakers, said he has measured 6-81/2 in shoes, and 6-71/4 or 6-71/2 without. He lauded former Vikings coach Bob Punter and Purdue coach Matt Painter, and even back to his middle school days, for teaching him team defensive principles.
“I think I have to show I can guard in a one-on-one situation,” Hummel said.
Hummel generally has been viewed as a small forward, but didn’t want to pigeonhole himself.
“I think I can be a ‘stretch four’ or a ‘three,’ depending on the matchups, or how they play,” he said, noting his potential effectiveness in pick-and-pop situations. “I’m certainly open to playing how ever the coach wants to use me.
“At the end of the day, I just feel like I’m a basketball player.”
He also didn’t want to take a narrow approach when asked to compare himself to a current NBA player.
“It’s a tough question, because I think a lot of times white guys get compared to white guys, and black guys get compared to black guys,” Hummel said. “I would say (Suns forward) Jared Dudley is a legitimate comparison. He shoots it, rebounds, defends, plays within the team concept and plays hard.”
Hummel mentioned the Blazers and Kings as additional teams with which he has individual workouts scheduled after the combine.
“It’ll be a wild two weeks to the draft,” he said.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal. I’m looking forward to it. The travel’s the hardest part. The workouts are fun, it’s fun to compete with guys who are as good or better than you are, go up against the best players in the country. Being in airports, and sitting on airplanes isn’t much fun, especially when you’re spoiled like I am taking charter flights at Purdue.”
As far as his knee, Hummel — who also overcame the stress fracture in his vertebra as a sophomore, in addition to the two torn ACLs — estimated it’s at 95 percent. He said he’s even “a different player” since Purdue’s season-ending loss to eventual national runner-up Kansas in the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament.
“Everyone’s happy with how I look, how I move,” he said. “I think I’m back to being semi-athletic again. I’m starting to come back and feel a little bit explosive, whereas during the season I didn’t really have that. Right now, I probably project in the second round, but I’m trying to move up as high as I can. It’s a process of going to these workouts, and showing what I can do every time. ... These guys have been watching me play since I was a freshman, so it’s not like I need to reinvent the wheel or anything like that. I just have to show them that I’m consistent and can do what I do.
“Basically, I proved in college that I have the ability to play in the NBA; it’s more of can I prove that I’m healthy. And at this point, I definitely am.”
In part because of that comeback, Hummel has earned widespread respect, including from former Michigan State star Draymond Green. The Spartans leader praised his Purdue counterpart for his shooting and rebounding and, above all, his will to battle back to All-Big Ten status after the two knee injuries.
“Everybody couldn’t do that, not so much physically, but mentally,” Green said. “He’s mentally strong.
“I definitely think he has a chance, a guy like that, persevering through so much. A guy like that can always find a way.”
That fire has always burned for Hummel.
“I love playing the game. ... I can bring that every day in practice and be a guy that will go hard every day,” he said.
“I’ve always been competitive. My mom still jokes that I never let my brother win in anything. It’s probably not the best thing for a big brother to do, but it’s one of those things where I hate to lose. It’s something ingrained in me.”
The draft takes place on June 28 in Newark, N.J.
“It’s been my dream since I was a 3-year-old kid. I’ve always wanted to play in the NBA, it’s always been something I’ve wanted to do,” Hummel said. “It’s pretty cool to be this close. But I guess I’m two weeks away from finding out if I can realize that dream.”