Purdue's A.J. Hammons Can Be As Good As He Wants To Be

By douggriffiths
A.J. Hammons Purdue Boilermakers
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

When the All-Big Ten teams are released Monday, you won’t see 7-foot Purdue freshman A.J. Hammons listed.

Hammons hasn’t been good enough to deserve such acclaim. Not yet anyway.

In a league dominated by future NBA players, Hammons has been lost among the Zellars, Oladipos, Thomas, Burkes and Hardaways this season.

But just wait. Hammons’ time is coming.

The 280-pound behemoth, who played his final year of high school ball at powerhouse Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, is one of those players who can be as good as he wants to be. Yes, the sky is indeed the limit with this space-eating giant.

This season he has had some great games (i.e. when he torched Indiana for 30 points) and some games where he’s disappeared (five points Wednesday against Michigan).

No doubt consistency is an issue for Hammons which leads me to believe he needs to mature and get any laziness out of his body if he is to reach his full potential.

Hammons will make the Big Ten’s All-Freshman Team and for good reason. He enters the regular-season finale against Minnesota Saturday as Purdue’s second-leading scorer, averaging 10.5 points per game, and pulling down a team-best 6.2 rebounds.

Who knows exactly what kind of work ethic Hammons really has, but if he decides this off-season that he wants to be the Big Ten’s best player and an NBA Lottery pick in the very near future, he can be if he sleeps, eats and breathes basketball over the summer.

If, however, he goes through the motions, Hammons will still be drafted because of his size alone, but he will never come close to reaching his potential until he sets his mind on being an unstoppable force in the paint.

Hammons’ game already has the ingredients you can’t teach. Size, really good feet and he runs the floor exceptionally well for a player with such mass.

Without question Hammons can be college basketball’s next great big man.

Next year at this time he could even be the Big Ten’s MVP and a first-team All-American, but it’s all on him.

As long-time Purdue radio announcer Larry Clisby told me in late January, “Very few people in this world are 7-feet, 280 pounds with a skill set. … I think he has a very good opportunity to not only be one of the premier players in our league, but in the country.”

Going forward keep an eye on the Boilermaker big man who wears jersey No. 20. He should be one of the Big Ten’s marquee players in 2013-14 and we’ll see if he develops into the dominate force he should.

Doug Griffiths is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association. Doug is a columnist/writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @ISLgriffiths and Facebook.

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