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November 11, 2013

Hammons calls suspension 'a wake-up call'

After sitting out the past three games for an undisclosed violation of team rules, Purdue center A.J. Hammons called the experience "a wake-up call" Monday in his first public comments since the suspension came down.

The Boilermaker sophomore declined to reveal what led the punishment, which kept him out of exhibition games against the University of Indianapolis and Wayne State and Friday night's opener against Northern Kentucky, a narrow 77-76 win.

But he said he was impacted by the experience.

"I'm going to get out there and play as hard as I can to make up for my mistakes," Hammons said.

After the suspension came down, Hammons spoke to his teammates, whose "trust," he said must be earned back.

"I just wanted to apologize for the mistake I made and the mistakes I've made since I've been here," Hammons said, "and that I'll be ready for the next game."

When asked what he's taken from the experience, the 7-footer said, "Just do what you have to do and stop playing around."

Without Hammons, Purdue turned to redshirt freshman Jay Simpson as its No. 1 center, featuring him on offense the way it likely would have Hammons. Against Northern Kentucky, Simpson scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds.

"It helped me out a lot," Simpson said, "and (the situation) helped the team because it brought us together."

Now, after being on the outside looking in for a few weeks, Hammons must become part of whatever togetherness the Boilermakers established without him.

"They're already three games ahead of me, so I have to catch up," said Hammons, whose role in game preparation for the three games he missed was limited since he'd be unavailable. "I have to jump in and try to get into their cohesiveness."

Hammons, who was named to the Big Ten's All-Freshman team last season and is the Big Ten's leading returning shot-blocker, debuts Wednesday night against Central Connecticut State.

Copyright, Boilers, Inc. 2013. All Rights Reserved. Reproducing or using editorial or graphical content, in whole or in part, without permission, is strictly prohibited. E-mail GoldandBlack.com/Boilers, Inc.

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