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April 10, 2014
Hammons, Painter gathering info
If A.J. Hammons can find what so many draft hopefuls covet - certainty - then Boilermaker coach Matt Painter is all for him ascending to the professional ranks.
Painter is playing the role right now of intermediary between the NBA and his sophomore center, helping Hammons gather as much information as he can before he decides whether to turn pro now or return to West Lafayette for his junior season.
"It's a delicate situation, because so many people have an opinion, and that's why I always say, 'Let's get with the decision-makers and the people who've been doing this for years who actually make the decisions on draft night,'" Painter said. "They have incomplete data so a lot of what they're telling you is guesswork too, but it only takes one person to draft you.
"If there's a guarantee, I think you have to look at it, but if it's not a guarantee and it's up in the air, the last thing he wants to do is go undrafted and have to play in the D-League all next year. That's not what I want for him, because he's not going to develop in the D-League the way he would at Purdue. If he can go and feels it's a guarantee and he can make a team, start (his career) in the NBA and finish in the NBA, I'm all for that, fighting for yourself. But playing in the D-League, I don't think he gets better or has the quality of life like he would here at Purdue."
That's just part of the equation for Hammons, who must decide before the NBA's early-entry deadline of April 27.
"I don't want to go late second round where not everything's guaranteed," Hammons said after Purdue's postseason banquet Wednesday night, "but if I could go top 20 (in the first round), something like that, that might (influence) my decision a little bit more."
The general consensus on the Purdue 7-footer has pegged him as a likely second-round pick, but as Painter notes, all "data" at this point is incomplete. The landscape of those who'll be available to be drafted hasn't been finalized as more underclassmen and Europeans will add their names to the mix in coming weeks.
And should Hammons declare, he'd have opportunities to improve - or worsen - his stock during pre-draft workouts and interviews.
So any projection made now is probably premature. But Painter said the projections that have come through his office have been consistent.
"They all like his improvement from Year 1 to Year 2, but they want to see more in terms of consistency and being productive on a nightly basis," Painter said. "But he has very good physical skills."
Hammons has not withdrawn in any way, shape or form from his routine at Purdue. He's going through team workouts with his coaches and teammates and has talked often about how his primary concern being finishing out the semester academically.
While he's done so, Painter has talked with NBA personnel and the coaching staff has compiled information on recent drafts to reveal how underclassmen in similar situations have fared, both on draft night and thereafter.
The Boilermaker center's decision will be guided largely by where he thinks he'd fall, but he is looking for more than just a uniform and a paycheck from whatever team either drafts him or picks him up should he go undrafted.
"I'm confident I can prove myself. It's just a matter of whether they're willing to take me and let me get in there and play," Hammons said when asked about the prospect of having to increase his stock should be declare. "As long as I'm on a team, I don't mind just playing a little bit and sitting on the bench and doing workouts, things like that, but I do just want to play (some). If I'm going to leave, I want to play."
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