By DOUG GRIFFITHS
ISL Assistant Editor
VALPARAISO, Ind. — Robbie Hummel is glad to be back home again.
Spending the 2012-13 season in Spain’s top-level professional basketball league, the former Purdue star got his fill of European life.
There was the language barrier playing on Obradoiro CAB in the Spanish league which the Valparaiso native said was such a hindrance that he spoke very few words to a couple of his teammates.
Don’t think Hummel regrets his time overseas though, because he doesn’t. He knows it helped develop his game, playing against some of Europe’s top competition. Plus, it was what the Minnesota Timberwolves, who drafted him with the 58th pick of the 2012 NBA Draft, wanted him to do.
-The culture is a lot different,” Hummel told IndySportsLegends.com. -Europe is a lot different than the United States. Some things are different for the better and some things are different for the worse.
-I’ve grown up in Indiana my whole life. It’s good to see other parts of the world, but at the end of the day, this is really where I want to be.
-Being home in America is pretty hard to beat.”
In Spain, Hummel averaged 14 points and 7.2 rebounds, helping his team make the playoffs for the first time in its history.
-I think I played well,” he said. -The competition is great in Spain, there’s no doubt about that.”
Hummel says he made a lucrative salary playing in Spain and hopes his bank account grows exponentially as a result of making the Timberwolves’ 15-player roster.
Hummel loves playing basketball for a living, but he’s not one who is all about his next big payday.
On Saturday, Hummel put on a free basketball camp at the YMCA in his hometown. It was at the YMCA were he spent countless hours growing up working on his game.
The two sessions drew about 160 boys and girls grades 1-10.
Each session lasted two hours and started with Hummel addressing the campers and briefly talking about his career and the importance of youth basketball on his career. Then, the campers were divided into stations where they worked on fundamentals and even competed against one of the most popular players to ever play in the Big Ten.
Hummel was very active at both camps, going from station to station, intently watching drills and often participating in them.
For the last 15 minutes or so, Hummel fielded any and all questions from the campers and their parents.
Putting on a camp at his hometown YMCA was a no-brainer for Hummel, who had a camp in nearby Merrillville earlier this summer.
-I grew up at the YMCA and they were looking to do something basketball wise for their members and the people of Valparaiso,” explained Hummel, who plans on having more summer camps in northern Indiana in the future. -Growing up here I was always a huge fan of our high school team and our college team. These are the future players of Valparaiso High School so it’s good to give back and good to be at a place where I grew up playing. Plus the Boys’ and Girls’ Club brought some kids over as well so that was good.”
Afterwards, he headed to Chicago for a wedding and then to Las Vegas for an NBA camp.
-It (the NBA camp) came about late so I had to pack a bag and figure out what I needed to go out there,” Hummel said. -It should be a good experience out there and this camp is for NBA guys so I’m looking forward to it.”
After that camp, Hummel will return to his parents’ home in Valparaiso, where he is currently living before departing for Minneapolis after Labor Day to prep for training camp.
The Timberwolves own Hummel’s rights, so if he gets cut, he’ll be a free agent, open to be picked up by any team in the league. If he makes Minnesota’s roster, he’ll negotiate a new contract.
He thinks his chances are -great” to make the Timberwolves.
-I think I’ll have the opportunity to go up there and make the team and that’s really all I can ask for,” said Hummel, who will likely be one of three players invited to camp competing for one open spot. -I’m looking forward to training camp to see what I can do.”
Hummel has reason to be optimistic.
He’s coming off a good showing in July in the Las Vegas Summer League where he averaged 8.6 points (tied for second on the team – the leader was at 8.7). Hummel also pulled down a team-high 5.8 rebounds in a team-high 21.4 minutes. He shot 47.1 percent from the floor (16-of-34), including 3-of-9 from three-point range.
What Hummel gives Minnesota is a 6-foot-8 player who can shoot, rebound, is versatile and can defend any position on the floor except the point guard spot.
His surgically repaired knee didn’t give him any problems in Vegas even though he played four straight days and five times in six days.
If the NBA doesn’t work out this year, Hummel says he’ll return to Europe, preferring to play basketball overseas rather than play in the NBA’s Developmental League.
-You can definitely make a living over there, there’s no question about that,” Hummel said. -JaJuan (Johnson) just signed to go over there. Kenny Lowe has been over there forever. David Teague is playing over there. There are a lot of (Purdue) guys playing over there.”
No matter where Hummel ends up, he’ll be paying close attention to how his Boilermakers are doing.
He expects Matt Painter’s team to bounce back after a sub-par 2012-13 season.
-I think they’re going to be good this year,” Hummel said. -We had a week (at Purdue) where all the guys came back and played and it was really cool. They were much improved in my opinion.
-I think Jay Simpson is going to be a really good player, A.J. Hammons obviously with his size and Terone (Johnson). I think they’re going to have a good year.”
Hummel warns Boilermaker fans to not overreact since last year was the first time since 2006 that Purdue missed the NCAA Tournament.
-It’s hard to rebound year after year,” Hummel said. -We had been to the NCAA Tournament six years in a row. Obviously you want to make it every year and I guarantee you Coach Painter wasn’t happy with not going to the tournament, but it happens to everybody. Kentucky didn’t go last year and look at the talent they have.”
As for life after basketball, Hummel wouldn’t mind possibly pursuing a career in broadcasting or even getting into coaching perhaps.
For now though, his mind is on one thing … making an NBA roster. That’s been his childhood dream.
-It’s been my dream to play in the NBA since I was a kid so that’s what I’m shooting for,” Hummel said.
And you know everyone in the basketball universe will be pulling for Hummel to achieve his lifelong dream.