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Hummel's injury leaves Purdue in shambles
Since I broke into this business, I’ve always tried to remain objective. Growing up in Boston, I was never a towel-waver of any of the local teams. I’ve taken plenty of shots at my alma mater, Arizona, over the last few years.
But this one doesn’t call for objectivity.
When I stepped off the plane in Kansas City and read the text, my heart sank.
"Hummel tore his ACL”
It had to be wrong. The first “real” practices began this morning following last night’s dramatic Midnight Madness festivities throughout the country.
Hummel had just been cleared by doctors a week ago and he was so excited he sent me a text on Oct. 7.
``I’ve been cleared and played my first game of one-and-one. It felt great,” Hummel wrote.
He took care of teammate D.J. Byrd.
Hummel was back, well ahead of schedule and ready to do what he was unable to a year ago when he went down with a season-ending knee injury on Feb. 24, essentially ending Purdue’s Final Four and even national title hopes.
He was ready to help lead Purdue to the Final Four.
Sometimes life just isn’t fair and bad things happen to good people.
Robbie Hummel was one of the best kids I’ve ever run into — in all my years of covering the NBA, college and high school basketball. I’ve watched and known Hummel for about six years — since he played AAU ball with the SYF Players as a junior in high school.
He‘s what’s right with basketball.
In a sport in which many stars have egos that can barely fit into arenas, Hummel is virtually ego-less. In a sport where guys play for the wrong reasons, Hummel truly plays for the love of the game.
The calls and texts came in at a furious rate following the news around noon on Saturday — from rival Big Ten coaches and other head and assistant coaches from throughout the country.
Pick your adjective.
Unfair. Devastating. Horrible.
People forget that Hummel spent most of his sophomore season playing in a back brace. A year ago, the Boilermakers were rolling and some were even questioning whether they deserved the No. 1 overall ranking before Hummel went down on Feb. 24 against Minnesota.
Season over. Not just for Hummel, but also for the Boilermakers — who somehow managed to reach the Sweet 16.
But this column isn’t about Purdue and what Hummel’s loss does for their postseason hopes this time around.
It’s about a kid that doesn’t deserve this.
There he was in a 3-on-2 drill early in Saturday morning’s practice, trying to block teammate E’Twaun Moore’s shot and coming down awkwardly.
One observer said that Hummel, on the floor, looked immediately at Purdue coach Matt Painter and shot his head coach a look that made it clear.
He knew he’d done it again.
Torn the right knee, the same one that cost him a chance to play in the Final Four down the road in Indianapolis last April.
I’m not certain Hummel was in line for an NBA career, but I wouldn’t have bet against it. He’s not the most athletic kid in the country, but he does everything. He can score, rebound, pass, defend and has all the intangibles.
He’s the kind of guy you’d take to start your team because, well, he’s just a winner.
He’s the kind of guy you wouldn’t hesitate to babysit your 7-year-old daughter because, well, he’s just that type of kid.
And he’s the kind of kid who will find a way to come back from this.
"I have a year and a half to get ready now,” Hummel texted me early Saturday afternoon.
JaJuan Johnson and Moore, who arrived with him at Purdue, will be gone.
But Hummel will be back to finish his college career because, well, I’m still a believer that good things do happen to good people.
And Hummel is one of the best I’ve run across.
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