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October 26, 2013
After going from college star to professional underdog of sorts, Robbie Hummel earned a roster spot with the Minnesota Timberwolves this weekend, an event that was a year-and-a-half in the making, but a result that he by no means views as a destination.
"It's a great feeling to make the team," Hummel said Saturday, "but the work's not done at this point. It's time to gear it up even more to make sure you stay here."
It's been one step at a time for Hummel, who was drafted 58th overall two springs ago by the Timberwolves after a Purdue career sidetracked twice by major injury.
After being drafted, Hummel was sent to Spain to play professionally there, the non-binding understanding being that a season spent playing overseas might be rewarded with a deferred roster spot thereafter.
But nothing was guaranteed, especially not after the Timberwolves brass that drafted him left while Hummel was in Spain.
"I'll never forget that call to (agent Mark Bartelstein) from Spain," Hummel said. "It was, 'What does this mean? What's this mean for me?' It was unsettling, because those were the people who put their faith in you to take you. When they leave, the new guys have their own thoughts and their own views on players. You hope you're viewed in a positive light. Flip Saunders and (Coach) Rick Adelman gave me every opportunity to make the team and I'm thankful to them for that."
Now that Hummel's foot's in the door in the NBA, he hopes a long career lies ahead.
"I think I'm definitely going to be a player," Hummel said, "and I think the Minnesota Timberwolves organization feels that way, too, or else they wouldn't have selected me to be on the team. I'll look to prove that and make the most of the minutes I'm given, no matter what they might be. That's the thing, you have to stay ready.
"That's the thing. ... This experience has been new in so many ways. I've never not played in a game because of a coach's decision. That's just something I've never experienced until training camp here. It takes a lot to get used to, but it makes you just want to do whatever you can to help the team and that's what you have to do to stick around here."
Hummel has settled well, he said, into the role of underdog.
"It's pretty nice actually," he said. "It's nice to be out of limelight some. Obviously there's guys in the NBA who are a lot bigger names than I am and it's fun being the guy who's working his way up.
"You know, in high school, I made the varsity as a sophomore and in college I played as a freshman right away. That might be the case here and it might not. It's just something where you have to be ready for the opportunity whenever it comes. That being said, there are a lot of guys on this team I can learn from, so that's good."
Hummel will be one of three former Boilermakers in the NBA this season, joining Sacramento's Carl Landry and Orlando's E'Twaun Moore.
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