Thursday July 2nd, 2009

The latest subject in SI.com's hoops Q&A series is Purdue forward Robbie Hummel, who's currently playing for the U.S. World University Games team in Belgrade, Serbia. As a sophomore last season, Hummel averaged 12.5 points and 7.0 rebounds while battling a nagging lower- back injury, and the Boilermakers finished 27-10 and lost to UConn in the Sweet 16. I caught up with Hummel during the World University Games trials in Colorado Springs, and the following is an edited transcript of our conversation.

Luke Winn: There's a Twitter account with your name on it and just three posts, all in April. Is it actually yours?

Robbie Hummel: It's not me. I think I need to sue somebody or something.

LW: It's following a JaJuan Johnson twitter, also with three posts, also presumably fake.

RH: Really. I had a MySpace account once -- it wasn't mine, but someone had made it pretending to be me -- and it had me messaging [former teammate] Scott [Martin]. It was fake for him too, and the message was like, "Hey Scott, are we gonna kick some ass tonight at Michigan State?" And his [fake] message was, "Yeah! I can't wait to get out there!" My god, that thing was making me sick.

LW: I saw you on the sidelines earlier laughing a little bit while [Purdue] coach [Matt] Painter was getting after some of the kids in the U19 trials. [Painter and Southern Illinois' Chris Lowery are the assistants on Pitt coach Jamie Dixon's U.S. U19 staff. The U19 trials were held concurrently with the World University Games trials in Colorado Springs.]

RH: I was smiling because it's the same thing we go through every day in practice. Nothing's changed. That's what makes him a good coach: He's intense all the time, and he does a good job of staying after people. The intensity is always there, and you saw that today.

LW: He even got after one player [Pitt's Ashton Gibbs] for not having his shirt tucked in. That was impressive.

RH: Your shirt comes out in practice and you're going to hear about it. That's the same thing we get every day.

LW: What does Painter do -- or say -- in practice when he's the most upset?

RH: He takes the ball and chucks it off the backboard a lot, when he's really really mad. That's the maddest I've seen him get. He has a lot of sayings he uses a lot, too. The one that he says about 100 times each season is, "Everybody can't play shortstop and bat leadoff."

LW: You're still wearing the back brace that you had on most of last season, and I saw [Washington's] Quincy Pondexter trying it on after practice. What was that about?

RH: We played Washington [in the second round of the NCAA tournament], and Quincy guarded me for a while. He said he felt the brace -- he said he tried to check me in the back once, and was like, "What is that?" So he wanted to put it on and see what it was actually like.

LW: So that's the upside of the brace: You get protection from back- checks.

RH: Honestly, yeah. Somebody can hit me and I won't even feel it.

LW: What's the weirdest thing that's happened as a result of having to wear this giant brace all the time?

RH: There's a guy who emailed me, called me -- I don't know how he got my phone number -- and left me a voicemail, all about some herbal [remedy]. He said I should rub Eucalyptus oil on my back to make it heal. He also ended his voicemail in a weird way, by saying, "So get your head in the game!" And then said, "Give me some IU tickets!"

He e-mailed me a couple more times after that, and left another voicemail, that said, "Hey, did you get that Eucalyptus oil? Call me back ..."

LW: So what's the situation with the brace? How long do you have to keep wearing it?

RH: They cleared me [to stop wearing it], but decided it might be best for me to wear it through this tryout, because it's such a physical thing, and there are lots of good athletes here, so why risk it. I'm wearing it through this, and then I'll start to get out of it a little more.

LW: No surgery needed?

RH: They said surgery [fusing the vertebrae together] would be the last option you'd want, because it's been very unsuccessful on guys they've done it on. They've lost their mobility, and it's basically ended their career.

LW: You're still on the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Issues Committee. What's the latest thing you've discussed with them?

RH: We actually had a meeting in Indianapolis in June, but they told [the players involved] not to talk about it, because they didn't want us to slip up and say something against what the issues committee is saying. They issued a statement from the chairman [Kevin Anderson from Army], and you can find it online.

LW: What's your personal opinion of the NBA's age-limit rule, then?

RH: I'd get rid of the one-and-done rule. I don't see the point. We have kids coming to school to play basketball who have no interest in going to school. It makes a mockery of what college basketball is supposed to be about: Somebody going to get their education at college, and playing basketball at the same time. So I think it's stupid, honestly.

LW: If you were starting a college program from scratch and couldn't hire anyone off the Purdue staff, whom would you pick as coach?

RH: [Michigan State's] Tom Izzo, for sure, because he has some similar qualities to coach Painter: He's really intense, and I think he has good relationships with his players and gets them to play hard. And I think he coaches the right way.

LW: If you could add one player from these U.S. trials to your roster at Purdue for next season, who would you pick?

RH: Probably [Iowa State's] Craig Brackins or [Mississippi State's] Jarvis Varnado, because Craig is big, has post moves, and can shoot -- he's a very versatile guy. And Jarvis just alters the game in an unbelievable way. He changes everything the other team does on offense.

LW: Having a front line of JaJuan Johnson and Varnado would be insane.

RH: It would. We'd have two of the best shot blockers in the country on the same team.

LW: JaJuan kind of had a breakout season last year. If there's anyone still capable of having a "breakout year" at Purdue, who should we look for to do it in 2009-10?

RH: Keaton [Grant] had a great sophomore year, then had knee surgery, and kind of struggled to get his shot back last year. He's been working out a lot, and did a good job in May getting into the gym a lot, so I think you could see him break back out starting this year.

LW: Last one: When you watch NBA games, which players are you able to look at and realistically think, "I have a chance to make the league someday?"

RH: Matt Harpring is one. Over his career, he was a very good shooter, as a big guy like me -- at 6-8 or 6-9, he could do a lot of different things. And Mike Dunleavy, in some aspects, we play similarly. Those are the two guys who come to mind.

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