NBA selection worth the wait for Robbie Hummel
By Michael Osipoff 648-3137 or firstname.lastname@example.org June 29, 2012 11:34PM
Purdue forward Robbie Hummel (4) goes up for a basket in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Illinois at Assembly Hall in Champaign, Ill., on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012. Purdue won 67-62. (AP Photo/Heather Coit)
Updated: August 1, 2012 6:12AM
WEST LAFAYETTE — Not much came easily for Robbie Hummel during his Purdue career, especially during the latter part of it.
So why would the NBA Draft on Thursday night have been any different?
The Minnesota Timberwolves selected Hummel No. 58 overall in the 60-pick event at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., touching off a humongous celebration at a restaurant near the Purdue campus, where a throng of his family members and friends had gathered.
“That was pretty wild,” Hummel said. “I still haven’t digested the idea that I’ve gotten picked. I’m still in a little shock, I’m still a little scared that I might not get picked. I don’t even know how to explain it. It was a surreal experience to hear your name called for something I’ve wanted to have happen since I was 3 years old. I’m not going to lie, if I wouldn’t have been picked, I would’ve been extremely disappointed. I’m kind of disheartened. But this is pretty awesome.”
The Valparaiso High and Purdue graduate admitted he had started to think about the next step he would have to take in order to attempt to make the NBA as an undrafted free agent.
He had thought the Toronto Raptors might select him at No. 37. Or perhaps the Utah Jazz would do so at No. 47 — earlier on Thursday, that destination had been a popular one for him in various mock drafts. Heck, with his pre-draft workouts and the reports he received on his twice-reconstructed right knee, he thought he might have a shot to crack the first round. Late in the second round, a slew of international players went off the board.
“I never heard of half those guys,” Hummel said. “I’m sure they’re very good players, but it’s hard to quantify that when I haven’t seen them play. It can be a little bit frustrating.”
Then, about a minute before the Timberwolves made the fateful selection, Hummel received a call from agent Mark Bartelstein.
“I was kind of in shock,” Hummel said. “I was so surprised, because I had kind of given up hope a little bit. So I was surprised and obviously happy at the same time.
“For the majority of the night, I was just annoying my agent and the people that work for him.”
Said Hummel’s father, Glenn: “It didn’t play out exactly how we hoped, but we’re really excited.”
Now Robbie Hummel will prepare to head to Minnesota, where a lot of his relatives on his father’s side live — his grandparents hail from there — and where his family has a lake cottage.
“It won’t be hard to give my four tickets away every night, that’s for sure,” said Hummel, who also coincidentally suffered his first torn ACL in Minneapolis.
After getting drafted, Hummel was enjoying the moment, but he also turned his attention to the process of making the Timberwolves roster — not necessarily a guarantee for a second-rounder, but he vowed to do everything in his power to make it happen.
“I still have a lot of work to do,” Hummel said. “I’m not in the NBA yet. But I’m going to work at it. I’m looking forward to the opportunity. Just having a chance to make an NBA team is really all I asked for.
“I think I have a very good chance of making the team. It’s something that I’ll embrace and look forward to. I know I’ll have to work for it. This is a dream come true for me. ... It’s a special feeling. It’s something I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.”
JaJuan Johnson, who recently completed his rookie season with the Boston Celtics, has the utmost confidence in his former Boilermakers teammate.
“He deserves everything,” said Johnson, among the attendees at Thursday’s gathering. “He’s fought through a lot.”
Purdue coach Matt Painter issued a statement about his former star.
“When you talk about Robbie Hummel, you talk about a skilled, hard-working guy who also has all the intangibles it takes to be successful in the NBA,” he said. “He did a great job of keeping his focus throughout the pre-draft process, and it’s clear that his best basketball is ahead of him. I have no doubt he’ll give everything he has to be a great representative of the Timberwolves, both on the court and off.”
Hummel participated in a group workout the Timberwolves hosted on June 1. He was their only pick in the draft.
“I felt pretty strongly that when you’re picking 58, the opportunity to take somebody who at one point was a consensus first-rounder, coming back from injury, showing signs of regaining his health, it was a risk worth taking,” Minnesota president of basketball operations David Kahn said on timberwolves.com. “He’s got a beautiful shot with a quick release. In our league, if you
can make shots on a consistent basis and you have a little size to you — and he’s 6-8, 6-81/2 — then you have a chance to make the league.”