A look at Purdue's exciting 7' freshmen center
I love post players. Growing up in then 90's I was lucky enough to witness some of the best back to the basket big men of all time with young Shaq, Hakeem 'The Dream', Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Karl Malone, and so on. Nothing gets me more excited than a true post player or a threat in the paint.
Last season we had no threat in the paint. We struggled to score down low and constantly got killed on the glass. This year looks to be a different story with the depth we have at center and forward. For the record, I don't think Hammons will ever have a career like the guys listed above. But I'm sure as shit excited to see a true 7' monster play for this team over the next 4 years. (Fingers crossed he actually stays the whole time)
A.J Hammons - Fr.
Hometown: Carmel, IN (Oak Hill Academy HS in VA)
7' 280 pounds
2012 projection: contributor at center
Here's the thing about A.J., the kid will be as good as he wants to be. Cliche? Yes. True? Very so much. I've heard great things about Hammons and watched him dominate in the HS game, but there have been many red flags about his work ethic. In fact, Hammons had a tweet a few months back that literally said "need a work ethic". Part of me wanted to throw up after reading that.
Coach Painter does a great job with bigs, and has talked about how Hammons is not in the best shape, but that was right around the Italy trip, so hopefully he's moved past that now. I trust Painter with disciplining his players and getting them to bust their butts.
Hammons, a four star recruit, enters this season with guaranteed minutes; unless the problem stated above becomes a huge ordeal. A McDonalds All-American nominee, Hammons helped lead his high school to a 44-0 record and the honor of being the number one team in the nation. HS senior year averages were 7.0 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 4.0 blocks.
I don't see Hammons being a scoring machine, not yet at least; who knows what his future holds on that end. I do see Hammons eating up all the space in the paint and going all 'Mount Mutumbo' on people that come in his area. Hammons is a huge body that gives people little to no room to work with and is a good athlete with his frame. I'm excited to see him match up with big guys like Mitch McGary and Cody Zeller. He gives up a lot of speed in those match ups, but with his size and, to quote Jay Bilas, wingspan, Hammons is a shot blocking threat that will make opponents really thinks about their shot selection. He is hands down our best shot blocker even though he has yet to play a real game.
Hammons is incredibly raw offensively. Most of his points will come from put backs, oops, and offense rebounds. If he works hard and uses that body of his he could easily be one of the better big men in the conference. If he can beat his lack of work ethic and play smart, Hammons is going to have a bright future with Purdue.