Purdue's Robbie Hummel, left, vs. St. Mary in the second round of the NCAA basketball tournament in 2012.

Susan Tripp Pollard, MCT

Hummel hopes to get noticed

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD
  • Star Tribune
  • June 28, 2012 - 10:53 PM

Finally, the question that always comes in situations like this was asked: How would you like to play for the Wolves?

Robbie Hummel, still sweating from a just-completed pre-draft workout, smiled.

"It'd be great," he said. I have a lot of family up here. Obviously Williams Arena is kind of a sore spot for me. But I wouldn't mind it."

Hummel, a 6-8 forward from Valparaiso, Ind., just finished an injury-plagued career at Purdue. And that sore spot is the result of a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee that happened Feb. 24, 2010 in a game against the Gophers. Both Hummel and the Boilermakers were on a roll when Hummel planted his foot, slipped and felt the ACL go.

Later that year, in a preseason practice in October, the same ligament was torn again. After sitting out the 2010-11 season Hummel returned. And while he played well and Purdue qualified for the NCAA tournament, Hummel said the knee was never quite 100 percent.

That's why these workouts -- he was one of a number of players at the Wolves' practice facility Friday who worked out in front of representatives from around the NBA -- are so important. Hummel was on the way to being a lottery pick before injuries got in the way. Now he has to prove to every team in the NBA that he's healthy again.

"I've come a long way since then," Hummel said of a senior season in which he averaged 16.4 points and 7.2 rebounds.

"I was getting better towards the end of the season, but it wasn't close to [100 percent]," he said. "Heck, I only had one dunk this year. I'm a 6-8 forward and I had one dunk. Probably not a good thing. But it's coming back."

Hummel has to prove that. At this point it appears his best chance will be as an undrafted free agent;. But, perhaps, strong workouts could change that.

"All workouts, whether they're individual or in a group setting like this, will be important to him," Wolves president of basketball operations David Kahn said. "It will be an opportunity to show what he can do. I thought he played very well."

Frankly, there were times when Hummel questioned whether he'd ever get back in the NBA conversation.

"I always knew I'd come back and play," he said. "I just didn't know if I was going to be any good. For a while during the [2011-12] season, I didn't shoot the ball very well. It was frustrating. I didn't know If would play well again. People kept telling me, 'Don't worry, it's going to come.' And they were right. It did."

Now he has to prove he also is athletic enough to play in the NBA, to defend other small forwards.

One thing is for sure. If it happens, if he makes an NBA roster, what Hummel has been through will make it that much sweeter.

"It would be more rewarding," he said. "It's something I've wanted since I was three or four years old. But, with the knee injuries, having to sit out, the questions I have to answer here? It would be definitely satisfying."

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