Hummel sees patience rewarded on long night

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 30, 2012 - 8:31 AM

Three draft picks from the end, the Purdue forward was bound for Minnesota, where he has family connections.

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Purdue’s Robbie Hummel saw his career sidetracked when he tore his right ACL on an awkward stop against the Gophers in February 2010. But Hummel bounced back from surgery not once, but twice.

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Robbie Hummel has been coming to Minnesota every summer since he was born because his grandparents are from Blue Earth, he has many relatives in Brooklyn Center and his great-grandfather built a lake home in northern Minnesota that he still visits.

But now that he's the Timberwolves' newest small forward, the former Purdue star might miss a family reunion held in Minneapolis every Fourth of July because he has other commitments, namely preparations to join his NBA team in time for Las Vegas Summer League play.

"It's coming up," he said about the reunion. "I don't know if I'm going to make this one."

Take away one February night at Williams Arena more than two years ago that he would rather forget and Hummel loves everything about Minnesota, including the fact the Wolves took him 58th overall, three picks from the end of Thursday night's NBA draft.

"It's kind of perfect," Hummel said. "Waiting that long was hard. I started getting worried it wasn't going to happen."

Hummel watched the draft from a West Lafayette, Ind., restaurant and heard name after name called before his did.

Many of them -- international players Izzet Turkyllmaz, Kostas Papanikolaou, Ognjean Kuzmic, Furkan Aldemir, Ilkan Karaman -- he had never heard of before.

"When you see so many players, especially the foreign players -- they're probably really good players, but you've never seen them play," said Hummel, who would have become a free agent able to sign with any team if he hadn't been drafted. "It's hard to understand that sometimes. My agent was keeping me calm, telling me to be patient. That's hard when you've been waiting there for four hours. It ended up working out for the best."

The Wolves selected him for his shooting ability, versatility and in the belief that he can return to the player he was before he jumped to a stop and tore his right anterior cruciate ligament in a game against the Gophers in February 2010 at Williams Arena.

Ten months later, he tore the same ligament again.

He missed that 2010-11 season, but returned to play 35 games this past season as a sixth-year senior at Purdue.

"I feel like I'm back to normal," Hummel said. "I haven't changed anything to be honest ... I do the same things.' "

Wolves President of Basketball Operations David Kahn insists Hummel has a real chance to make the roster, even if the odds of a No. 58 pick doing so are always long.

"He'll have every opportunity to make our basketball club," Kahn said. "We didn't take him to put him in Europe. I'm sure he'll compete very aggressively for a spot ... Robbie was quite a player before his injury, quite a player."

Hummel's finish to last season and his predraft workouts, including two for the Wolves at Target Center and a medical examination at the Chicago combine, convinced Kahn the 58th pick was worth the risk for a guy he predicted would have been a first-round pick if he hadn't been injured. Twice.

"The combine was good to prove to everyone that I was healthy," said Hummel, who shot 38.3 percent from three-point range and averaged a career-high 16.4 points last season. "The MRI, the X-rays, proving I was OK."

One day into his Wolves career, Hummel already on Friday had gotten the scouting report on new coach from veteran Brad Miller, another Purdue product who played for coach Rick Adelman in Sacramento, Houston and Minnesota.

"He's a friend and he has told me great things," Hummel said. "I'm looking forward to playing for a guy that's as well respected as him."

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