Monday, July 1, 2013
Hammons poised for a breakout year?
By Luke Lapinski
The 2012-13 college basketball season saw its fair share of players delivering breakout performances. In fact, a number of guys who were simply considered decent contributors back in October emerged to play major roles as the season unfolded. Some of them even carried that momentum directly into the NBA draft last week.
So who could do the same next year? It will likely be more difficult for so many relative unknowns to deliver breakout performances on the national level with such a strong 2014 draft crop already taking shape, but there will inevitably still be players who take a big step and command attention. Our own Eamonn Brennan thinks A.J. Hammons of Purdue could be one such story, noting that the 7-footer managed to make a decent impact while facing tough competition as a freshman -- despite somewhat limited playing time. Now he has a year of college experience under his belt, and could really make life difficult on the opposition if he continues to evolve his game. Plus, by playing in the always-competitive Big Ten, he'll be in prime position to garner plenty of interest if he uses his size effectively and shows off the mobility that made him a top 100 recruit in 2012.
Eamonn BrennanJust scratching the surface
"With Hammons, what lies underneath is almost frightening -- a legitimate, mobile 7-footer with soft hands and skill around the rim, big enough to match up with the biggest bodies in the NBA. The past two years, Indiana's Cody Zeller was held up as the return of the true center in college basketball, but even Zeller -- against whom Hammons scored 30 points on 10-of-14 shooting in late January (in a 37-point loss, somehow) -- is billed as a "stretch 4" in the NBA. Hammons is the real deal, and after a year of conditioning drills and skill development, there's a chance he morphs into a dominant force in the Big Ten this season."