Hummel peaking at right time
by Conrad Brunner || Caught in the Web Archive ||
June 22, 2012
Of course there were times Robbie Hummel doubted his future. It's kind of hard to think about taking on LeBron James and Kevin Durant after going 0-for-11 in a 25-point loss to Michigan State.
After two major surgeries on the same knee and one lost season, the 6-8 Purdue forward knew it would take some time to come all the way back and so he kept the faith.
"Certainly during the season, going 0-for-11 at Michigan State (on Jan. 21) probably didn't impress a whole lot of NBA scouts," he said. "That was one of those times but fortunately I started to feel better at the end of the year and I felt like I was playing well the last 10 games."
After a strong finish to his senior season and a series of encouraging workouts for NBA teams, including Friday for the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hummel hopes his faith will be rewarded in the NBA Draft Thursday night.
"This is definitely the best I've played, maybe ever, to be honest," he said. "I feel like shooting the ball-wise, I've been very good but just from a playing perspective, I'm doing pretty well.
"If you evaluate me in November, it's really not the same guy. If you look at me from November to March I'm a different player and if you look at me from March to now I'm a different player. The ACL, they say it takes 20 months till you're back to normal and I'm probably 17 or 18 (months) so I'm getting close but I'm not there yet."
In Purdue's final 11 games, Hummel averaged 19.1 points, 9.1 rebounds and shot .489 overall and .467 from the 3-point line.
Included in that span was a 24-point, 15-rebound rematch with Michigan State and a stirring performance in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. Hummel had 26 points, nine rebounds, three assists and shot 9-of-13 overall including 5-of-9 from the 3-point line as the Boilermakers fell just short against Thomas Robinson and Kansas 63-60.
Robinson is a likely top-five pick next week. Hummel is just hoping to be drafted.
Such is life when you're trying to prove to prospective employers they wouldn't be rolling the dice by investing in you.
"This is like an entire other season, to be honest, with all the workouts I've been to," he said. "At this point I don't see why I'd be any more of a risk than anyone else. The fact I've done it twice might give them the feeling that I am but my knee is healthy at this point. It's repaired.
"They see the MRIs and the X-rays and they back up what I say, so I think they believe me. I hope they believe me."
Hummel first tore his right ACL late in the 2009-10 season. He re-injured the knee in practice the following October, needed more surgery, and missed the entire 2010-11 season. As a fifth-year senior, he averaged 16.4 points and 7.2 rebounds and won the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award for his performance on the court, in the classroom and in the community.
His long, arduous comeback was one of the most inspiring and emotional stories in college basketball, but Hummel very clearly wants to put that behind him and is ready for the next phase of his career.
A legitimate 6-8, Hummel believes he could be a small forward or stretch power forward in the NBA, depending on a team's needs.
Assuming an NBA team does make the call, what kind of player will it be getting?
"Somebody that understands the game, somebody that plays hard on every possession," he said. "My biggest strength would probably be my perimeter shooting but at the same time I measured out at 6-8¾ in shoes at the (NBA Draft) combine (in Chicago) and I feel like I'm a pretty good rebounder, maybe a little underrated. And defensively I feel I can guard well in a defensive concept with help and recover and rotations.
"I think I can bring a lot to a team, like a Jared Dudley-type player. That's really what I'm shooting for."
His name does not show up, even in the second round, of the most prominent mock drafts but that doesn't necessarily he isn't on somebody's radar. The fact he already has worked out for 11 teams, with two more remaining, indicates more than a passive curiosity in what he has to offer.
The workout process, with the endless string of cramped flights and sleepless nights, is about to end. Hummel will learn his fate in less than a week.
"I can't wait," he said. "I've got the date circled on my calendar."
Then, he can stop coming back and start moving forward.