VALPARAISO | As an aspiring young baller, Robbie Hummel spent countless hours hooping at the Valparaiso YMCA.
Years later, the building has changed but the feelings are the same.
"I grew up a huge Valpo fan, the university and high school teams," Hummel said. "Bryce (Drew), Tim (Bishop), then other players. I really take a lot of pride in the fact that I played for Valpo. I played (at the Y) and the Boys & Girls Club. Somebody here had a team roster from 1996. To come back and have my own camp is pretty cool."
About 160 kids attended separate two-hour sessions for younger and older kids Saturday afternoon at the Y. They received instruction from the hometown star, who was assisted by current Vikings players, as well as high school coaches John Steinhilber (Hebron), Hummel's next-door neighbor, and Rob Walker (Westville).
"I think it's neat to see when a local player gets on the bigger stage and they still give back," Doug Dreher of Valpo said. "We were big fans in high school and though I went to IU, I certainly respected him in college. I think it's inspiring, especially when they're good kids, good people, and it's certainly appreciated. It's a positive for the community."
Dreher's 10-year old son Eric learned about proper shooting form. His older brother Jack took part in the second session.
Eight-year-old Tyler Peterson and his cousin Mason Follis, 7, both showed up wearing the identical black replica Hummel Purdue uniforms that he autographed on the front No. 4. The outfits weren't pre-planned, but it made for nice photo with Hummel.
"I liked all the games," Peterson said.
The camp concluded with a question-and-answer period during which Hummel fielded a wide varierty of inquiries. He assured one mom that it's not necessary to be tall to excel at basketball, noting Purdue teammate Lewis Jackson, who is 5-foot-9. Youngsters cheered when Hummel said his favorite NBA player was LeBron James. They booed when he said he liked the White Sox, drowning him out as he said he liked the Cubs, too.
"It’s always fun, especially with the younger kids," he said. "You never know what you're going to get."
Over the course of the summer, Hummel hosted a camp in Merrillville, worked the Purdue camp and attended camps by fellow alums E'Twaun Moore (East Chicago) and Chris Kramer (Huntington).
A few weeks removed from the Las Vegas Summer League, Hummel returns there today to participate in an NBA skills camp. In the fall, he will attend his first training camp with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
"It'll be a good experience for me. Any time you're playing guys who have been in the NBA, it can only help," Hummel said. "For the most part, (the summer league) went pretty well. I sprained my ankle toward the end, which was frustrating, but overall, it was good. I guarded well. I rebounded really well. I thought I shot good. When they look at me, offensively I'm definitely capable, but their question is, where can I guard? I think I showed I could guard a lot of positions."
While a lot could change over the course of the next couple months, Hummel's looking forward to getting a chance to make an NBA roster.
"That's all I've wanted the whole time, just to get an opportunity," he said. "That said, I'm going to go in and try to make the team."