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February 10, 2013

Hummel joins classmates in Mackey rafters

It's only fitting that Robbie Hummel's No. 4 jersey now hangs in the Mackey Arena rafters alongside those of former classmates JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore.

"If you'd told us on that first day of practice when we were all living in Cary Quad that we'd all have our jerseys in the rafters, I would have laughed at you," Hummel said, prior to being honored at halftime of Saturday night's Purdue-Michigan State game. I averaged like 15 points for my high school team.

"But all three of us worked incredibly hard and played for incredibly well coached teams and got to play with a lot of other good players, too, and that definitely helped."

And so all three left the school among its greatest players ever, Purdue tweaking its banner-hanging criteria to make room for all of them.

Johnson passed the old criteria of being named a first-team All-American. Moore's in after Purdue included 2,000-point scorers.

The All-America standard was slightly amended to first- and second-team to accommodate Hummel, a former Player-of-the-Year candidate and a three-time first-team All-Big Ten player at Purdue.

"He meant as much as much to this program as any player," Coach Matt Painter said. "He might not have the same numbers or whatever, but his impact on this program was huge. You never can get enough substance on your team and he was a guy who was just oozing with it. He deserves this and more."

Hummel knew long ago his jersey would hang, he admitted, as Purdue "tipped its hand" about it long ago, but squirmed nonetheless last season while being asked about it.

"It's kind of uncomfortable to talk about," he said.

Now that the jersey's been hung, it's not so much anymore.

"It's something I would have grown up dreaming about," Hummel said while back in West Lafayette on a four-day leave from his professional team in Spain. "Purdue was a place I loved being at so much, and to be up there, especially with JaJuan and E'Twaun, as well as all the other guys like Rick Mount and John Wooden and Glenn Robinson, it's great, something I've strived for since I was a little kid."

During his introduction at halftime on the Michigan State game, Hummel mentioned that the first game he ever attended in Mackey Arena was the 1994 semi-state game between Valparaiso and East Chicago Central.

"It's so fitting to see my name next to one of my buddies, E'Twaun Moore," Hummel said. "Valparaiso and East Chicago."

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