Oh, Robbie. How I despised you for two straight years as you demolished my beloved Golden Gophers with devastating dagger after dagger from deep throughout your college career.
But Hummel offers something more than just a solid shooting stroke: An admirable story. Hummel, during his freshman year back in 2007, was a strong role player for a so-so Boilermaker team. But through the years, Hummel put in the hard work it took to make a name for himself in a strong Big Ten conference. He became a legit scoring threat by the end of his sophomore season. That hard work ethic made Hummel a team favorite and, ultimately, a leader. He was the guy everyone looked up to and idolized.
But Hummel got bit and bit hard. In February of 2010, during his breakout junior season, Hummel tore his ACL during a game against my Gophers in Minnesota, believe it or not. An ACL tear can be extremely debilitating to a college athlete, and possibly even hold them out of athletics for the rest of their short career. It was a fearful moment for Purdue’s faithful because everyone knew the ramifications.
Well, it didn’t just happen to Hummel once but twice.
After working hard to recover from that torn ACL, Hummel may have stretched his luck by coming back too early and eventually tore the same right knee up again during a practice in October of what was supposed to be his senior season. Fortunately, Hummel was granted a fifth year of eligibility but the news was just a baby step forward in what was going to be an extra long rehabilitation process.
Working even harder than he did to just prove himself in his first two seasons, Hummel returned stronger than ever and ready to go for his super-senior season. He led the Boilermakers to a 22-13 record, and led all scorers with his best season average of 16.3 ppg. He shot 37-percent from three-point land and a solid 83-percent from the charity stripe. It was really the comeback of comebacks from a college athlete in a sport where your ACL makes a serious difference on the court. Many may just have given up in his situation but Hummel knew the talent he possessed and that, if he worked hard enough, he could get drafted someday. And that’s exactly what happened.
You really can’t help but cheer for the guy, even myself. And now, coming to Minnesota, Hummel brings that great story and a wonderful work ethic which creates this sense of a hometown hero type of character, the one everyone wants to see succeed. Seriously, everyone will want him to succeed and make this team.
And that’s exactly what he can do. Hummel established himself as a scoring threat at Purdue, there’s no doubt about that. He carved his niche in the Big Ten as a sniping specialist from beyond the arc. But he isn’t all about shooting it though. At 6-foot-8, Hummel was actually a very active and reliable rebounder through his collegiate years, including 7.2 per game last season. His size also gives versatility to the lineup as a legit 3 or even a stretch 4, which bodes well for when the Wolves choose to go small and spread the court (Hummel could be lethal in the open court, trolling the three-point line).
You have to be real here, though. As much as you fall in love with the guy, a 58th pick isn’t going to be an all-star, or at least it’s not likely. Hummel has the chance to be a solid spot-up shooter off the bench as the 9th or 10th guy in the rotation. He has the skills but you really have to wonder, despite how much work he puts in, how well that knee is going to hold up in a league where the players are much faster and stronger than they were in college. Realism is honesty, even when it hurts.
Again, it’s the 58th pick. I feel as though you can’t do any better than what the Wolves got but don’t expect too much. Just enjoy the story and root for him as if you’ve known him for years. It shouldn’t be that hard.