HANG TIME WEST – The draft case of what might have been is down to its final eight days of uncertainty. Robbie Hummel, once a candidate for the first round, heads to June 28 hoping just to make the second.
Big deal. It’s nothing like the uncertainty he faced the last couple years at Purdue. It’s nothing like the question marks he answered, to himself most of all, about being able to play close to NBA level again.
Hummel tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee late in his junior season. He made it back in time for the opening practice of his senior season and at the time was considered a possibility for the first round if he proved in 2010-11 that the leg had regained its strength. The NBA likes shooters with range and passing ability.
And then he tore the same ACL again.
Hummel redshirted and finally got his senior season in 2011-12. It was a good one, too – honorable mention All-America, fourth in the Big Ten in scoring and rebounds, 26 points and nine rebounds in the NCAA Tournament against Kansas. Now he has to find out if it was good enough for the NBA.
“Maybe late second,” one general manager said. “…. If he would have been healthy, I could have seen him as maybe a late first, early second-round pick. It is too bad.”
There is a feeling of accomplishment no matter what.
“Yeah, there was a little bit of a doubt” whether he would make it back, Hummel said. “Obviously coming off two (injuries), you don’t want it to be three. Before the season started, I was, I guess, a little apprehensive about that. Then once I started playing, I knew that I’d be able to get back, but I didn’t know if I’d be any good. I didn’t know if I’d be able to get back to a level of any NBA team actually having an interest in me. There were some frustrating times. For a while there, I wasn’t shooting the ball that good. But by the end of the season, I thought I was playing the best that I had in a long time. I was shooting the ball better and I finished on kind of a high note for me personally against Kansas in the NCAA Tournament.
“I wanted it (being drafted) to happen a couple years ago, but some things happened that were kind of outside my control. Unfortunately, I had those two knee injuries. But I think at the same time, it makes this whole process much more worthwhile. You go through something like double-ACL surgery, you appreciate playing basketball. When you can just do that and go through the NBA Draft process, it’s pretty cool.”
He sees himself going in the second round, with the realistic appraisal that “the knee has obviously probably scared some teams off.” No probably about it. The knee is a concern. But the comeback is a question mark being answered.