Sunday, January 1, 2012

Hammons is huge for Purdue in more ways than one

Last week InsideMackey profiled three of the four commits in the 2012 class, today we take a look at the last addition to that class, A.J. Hammons.

With the 2012 class always projecting to be a four-man class, Matt Painter entered the 2011-2012 season with three verbals. It turned out with Gary Harris' interest late, Purdue was willing to add two. The only two players that Matt Painter wanted were Gary Harris and A.J. Hammons.

Well, Painter got one of those two, and probably not a better player than Harris, Hammons seems to fit what Purdue "needed" more. 

It would have been nice to get Hammons and Harris, but realistically Purdue got in on Harris pretty late and going against Michigan State, with all those Final Fours and Tom Izzo, it was too much to ask (even with all the signs pointing to Purdue). With this said, Purdue has plenty of talented guards on its roster and some promising recruits on the way. 

What they didn't have before Hammons was a true 5. 

It can be argued whether a team ever truly needs a true center, but with Purdue's inability to recruit game changers in the frountcourt after J.J., it can only help.

It seems like there is so much to talk about with the other three recruits in this class and there is, but with Hammons, there seems to be even more talk. 

Hammons is one of the few true centers to come to Purdue in some time. A true center with ability and potential that is. 

At 7 feet, weighing around 270 pounds, Hammons is that physically imposing post player that Purdue fans have been looking for, for what seems like forever. He is that back-to-the-basket player Purdue fans have always wanted. 

With the ability to use both hands around the rim, Hammons has great touch for such a big human being. He can shoot over either shoulder with equal effectiveness. Sometimes you just want to see him put on a mean face and just dunk on everybody, and it looks like he could do it - he is that big. His footwork is equally as good as his touch. For a big man, his footwork is quite remarkable and it gets him a lot of easy buckets around the rim. 

As he joins fellow big man Jay Simpson in the 2012 class, he and Simpson posses many of the same attributes, both good and bad. The good: size, rebounding, footwork, touch around the rim, passing out of the post and in transition. The bad: work ethic and motivation. 

Simpson has been working on this and has gotten in better shape, so has Hammons. He looks a lot more in shape this year and he is moving better than ever before. You have to remember folks, this guy is 7 feet tall. You can't expect this guy to run up and down the floor like JaJuan. Those types of players don't come around very often. So Hammons looks to be in better shape, but he needs to start showing more emotion and effort out on the court. He needs to develop a mean streak because right now, as a 7 footer, he can sometimes be labeled as "soft".

From watching some of his games on televison, playing for Oak Hill Academy this season, he plays in a system that really isn't suited for him to succeed. With several Division I guards on this team, they like to get out and run, and rarely look to feed him in the post when in the half court. Consequently, it looks like Hammons doesn't give it his all because of this. Its like he says, "Well, if you're not going to pass to me or even give me a look, why should I work hard for you?" That's what it looks like while watching him play on television. Now, that's not an excuse for Hammons to not give it his all, but you can see that might be where he's coming from. Again, it's not like he's giving no effort, just at times it looks like he can give more than what he's giving.

Ranked a three-star and 123rd by for his class, Hammons has that one all important word that rides side by side with his name: potential. At 7 feet, he has size that no more than a handful of players have in his class. With the change of system, a weight training and diet program implemented and some added motivation, Hammons has all the tools to be a special player at Purdue. 

As he arrives next year as a freshman, he will bring Purdue a few things right off the bat. Something that Purdue fans are always worrisome about is rebounding. Purdue usually competes well in this category despite its sometimes lack of size, but Hammons will definitely help with this. He has the ability, with that big body, to carve space out of the lane and grab a lot of garbage. The other thing he gives Purdue is that presence inside. That physically intimidating big that makes guards change their shot at the rim. He will block plenty of shots as a freshman. Even if Hammons doesn't change any physically or mentally on into next season, he will still bring those two key skills: rebounding and shot blocking.

He just needs to realize the possibility at Purdue to be the go-to center and give it is all. If he does that, there are some good things ahead for Mr. Hammons and Purdue fans. One thing is for sure, we won't be scared to go up against the UConn's and Duke's of the world like we have been in the past. 

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