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June 26, 2012

Hummel confident as NBA draft nears

Robbie Hummel began this pre-draft process hoping to be picked.

Come Thursday night, though, he'll be expecting it.

After enduring 12 workouts for NBA teams in the span of a little more than a month - with all the grueling travel that comes with such a circuit - Hummel talks about the experience as if his best-case scenario unfolded.

"(Agent Mark Bartelstein) tells me this isn't life or death because even if I don't get drafted, he's confident I'll make a roster," Hummel said. "But for me, it's been my dream to hear my name called in the NBA draft since I was a little kid. For me, it's a big deal.

"And if I'd gone into these workouts and played bad, I could legitimately say, 'I don't deserve to be picked,' and live with it. But with the way things have gone, it would be a major disappointment to me personally - even if I can still make the NBA - to not be drafted. I look at it as a reward. It's not that I deserve to be picked, but I feel like I've done enough to be picked."

Beginning with his excellent game against Kansas in the NCAA Tournament, Hummel has seen his stock steadily rise and his game - and body - rapidly improve.

In a workout for the NBA champion Miami Heat, he made 45 of 50 three-pointers in front of Pat Riley. Hummel said that workout "went pretty much perfect."

"This is the best I've ever been at basketball, I'd say, from a complete-package perspective," said Hummel, who's been asked by scouts mostly about his surgically repaired knees. "Athletically, I'm not quite 100-percent back, but I'm 90 or 95 percent there. In terms of ball-handling and shooting and just with a confidence level, I think I'm as good as I've been."

This week, ESPN's Chad Ford projected Hummel to be drafted in the second round, with the 47th pick, to the Utah Jazz. It was one of the first such projections including the former three-time All-Big Ten forward to be selected.

Hummel said his reasonable best-case scenario for Thursday night would to be to hear his name called in the 30s. He points to workouts for Miami, Utah and Toronto among those he felt went particularly well.

"I think that's realistic at this point," Hummel said. "I think this has gone so well, it's a possibility."

In a league trending more than ever toward teams putting superstars alongside one another and surrounding them with role-capable (and cost-efficient) complementary players, Hummel believes there's a place for him in the league.

"I think my biggest asset is the ability to spread the floor and shoot the ball and I think I've done that really well all spring and into the summer," Hummel said. "I measured out at 6-foot-8-and-a-half in shoes, so I have some size and I think I'm an OK rebounder. From a defensive standpoint, I think when I'm isolated in a close-out situation, that's probably my biggest weakness, but something that can be improved on. But from a help-defense standpoint, in rotations, I think I'm pretty good with that and I think I can be an asset to a team that way, by taking charges and keeping people out of the paint."

His college coach shares the same feeling.

"Substance wins," Purdue coach Matt Painter said, "and don't get away from that. Anybody can sit around and examine what a guy does poorly, but I'm a big believer in keeping your focus on what a guy does to help you win. Sometimes people have to search guys in that area. With Rob, you don't have to search. His teams always win. He's skilled, he's intelligent, he understands the game, he defers to others, he makes the extra pass, he's going to be glued-in on that scouting report and he'll do whatever an organization needs him to do to help them be successful, like he's done at every level.

"He has too many intangibles. I think he has a place on every team. Guys like him always have a place on any team, because whether he starts, is in the rotation or barely plays, he's going to be good for the organization."

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