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Purdue suspends A.J. Hammons for violating team rules

Photo: Andy Manis/AP

A.J. Hammons, a top post player in the Big Ten, will sit the first three games of the season.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) Purdue center A.J. Hammons was suspended Monday for three games for violating team rules.

Hammons will miss two exhibition games and Purdue's regular-season opener Nov. 8 against Northern Kentucky. Coach Matt Painter declined to elaborate on what rules were broken, other than the suspension for the 7-foot, 251-pound Hammons was related to "conduct" and not academics, legal trouble or NCAA rule violations.

"I think one of these situations is that you learn a lot about the individual because when something like this happens, you let your teammates down but you've also let yourself down," Painter said. "If you have some pride, you know you're not going to let it happen again."

Hammons is expected to be a centerpiece in this season's restoration project at Purdue.

A year ago, Painter's team finished 16-17 and missed the NCAA tournament for the first time in seven years despite getting a strong freshman seasons from Hammons and point guard Ronnie Johnson. Hammons averaged 10.6 points and 6.0 rebounds, and then showed up in better shape this season.

With Hammons out, Painter will give 6-10 redshirt freshman Jay Simpson and 6-9 senior Travis Carroll more playing time. If they take advantage, it could earn them more minutes as the season goes along and create more depth along Purdue's front line.

Painter has seen it all work out before.

"We had a situation at Southern Illinois where a guy ended up getting in trouble and this other guy that really struggled taking care of the basketball and wasn't playing that much time, I was forced to play him," Painter said during a conference call with reporters. "That guy stayed in our rotation and helped us win games, ended up being one of the best defensive players in the country and first-team all-league. The other guy came back and never got in trouble again and I think went on to become academic all-league, so it all worked out well."

Painter is hoping for a similar result in West Lafayette. Now it's up to the Boilermakers to respond.

"This right here, I think if it happened right in the middle of Big Ten play, I think it would fit that category," Painter said when asked about the adversity of losing Hammons. "But since it's at the beginning of the season, I think we can use it as a positive."

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