COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Valpo's Robbie Hummel still No. 1 in hearts of Purdue fans

2013-02-09T20:15:00Z 2013-06-04T18:35:25Z Valpo's Robbie Hummel still No. 1 in hearts of Purdue fansAl Hamnik al.hamnik@nwi.com (219) 933-4154 nwitimes.com
February 09, 2013 8:15 pm  • 

WEST LAFAYETTE | Robbie Hummel returned to his alma mater Purdue on Saturday to "hang around."

The Valparaiso grad and former Boilermaker great was awarded the 2012 Big Ten Medal of Honor and had his jersey No. 4 raised to the rafters at Mackey Arena during halftime of the Michigan State game.

It was an emotional 10 minutes for Hummel and his family at midcourt as a sellout crowd chanted ROBBIE HUMMEL! ROBBIE HUMMEL! amid thunderous applause.

"Playing at Valpo on a team that was very good and had a lot of success with buddies I'd grown up with from fifth grade on was a lot of fun," Hummel said afterward. "But if you told me I'd have a banner hanging in Mackey Arena with my name and number on it, it still blows my mind.

"I've had so many people help me along the way. I've been blessed with great parents and a great family."

Hummel became the 22nd Purdue player to have his number displayed high above Keady Court, joining former teammates JaJuan Johnson and East Chicago's E'Twaun Moore.

"They're still very good friends of mine. It's hard for me to put into words," Hummel said. "They mean so much to me. We came in together. We lived together. We really had a lot of fun times at Purdue."

A three-time First Team All-Big Ten selection, Hummel earned a fifth-year of eligibility after two ACL surgeries and graduated as Purdue's No. 9 career scorer.

The second-round draft of the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2012 and now playing in Spain, Hummel couldn't walk 20 feet in any direction Saturday without students, former coaches, administrators and media people approaching him for warm "hello" or congratulatory handshake.

As Hummel stood in the hallway adjoining both locker rooms at halftime, MSU's Tom Izzo and his Spartans were returning to the court when the legendary coach slowed up to offer his bests.

"Robbie, how ya doin?" Izzo asked. "Great to see ya." 

Hummel was able to watch two future NBA picks in Purdue 7-foot freshman center A.J. Hammons and MSU's 6-6 Branden Dawson, both Gary natives.

"The sky's the limit for (Hammons). He's got skills. He's 7-foot tall. He can run and jump," Hummel said. "If you teach him how to play and coach (Matt) Painter will teach him, you can build a team around him.

"You look at (Dawson) ... God, his body's incredible. It was like that in high school. If he develops his game, you'll probably see him in the NBA. He's scary good."

Hummel will complete his one-year contract in Spain and hopes to join the Timberwolves next season.

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