Purdue Scouting Report: 2012 Basketball Signee AJ Hammons’ Game on 12/16/11

I met friends at Chumley’s on Thursday night for drinks and food. Luckily, I was camped out underneath a TV showing the Oak Hill basketball game featuring Purdue signee AJ Hammons. And to top it off, I had the Oak Hill/Miller Grove game recording at home ready for my review the following morning.

So now that I’ve gotten to watch Hammons’ game against Miller Grove twice — once while drinking beer and a second time while drinking coffee — here’s my scouting report:

NOTE: Miller Grove (GA) featured 6-9 big man Tony Parker. He’s currently uncommitted with offers from the likes of Duke and Ohio State. He’s ranked the 33rd best overall player by rivals.com and was matched-up against Purdue signee AJ Hammons.

The Good:

  • AJ has tremendous size. Hammons eats space in the middle and easily grabs lots of rebounds. His impact at Purdue will be instant because he may become the team’s leading rebounder as just a freshman.
  • He passes the ball well and makes good decisions whether he’s handling the ball down low or out on the perimeter.
  • He has a nice hook shot. Even though he missed his attempt around the 5 minute mark of the 1st quarter, the shot was a high percentage try and will serve him well in the future.
  • There’s no denying that Tony Parker won the match-up battle. But Hammons did frustrate him at times by putting his body on him and forcing him out of bounds in the 1st quarter.
  • Hammons is not afraid to be physical. He uses his body well to get in the way of his opponent. The next step is to avoid getting called for fouls. To prevent fouls, he’ll have to use his hands less and his hips more. I’m sure Matt Painter and staff are eager to coach him to play Purdue defense.
  • Hammons’ offensive rebound and dunk around the 4 minute mark of the first quarter was a huge play. This is a glimpse of what Hammons is capable of doing at the next level. Most of the time, we see Hammons just lay the put-back off the backboard for an easy two. But if he starts slamming it home with authority like against Miller Grove, he’s going to wow people at Purdue.
  • Hammons’ block at the 2:30 mark of the fourth quarter was spectacular. He will affect a lot of shots at Purdue because he has a 7-4 wingspan and probably an overhead reach around 9 feet tall.
  • AJ was able to prevent the entry pass to Parker a lot of times, even when Parker was calling for the ball.
  • He had a very nice reverse layup when fed the ball down low. He has nice post moves and has quick enough feet to beat his man for easy shots at point blank.
Areas for Improvement:
  • He needs more tenacity. Going against one of the best power forwards and centers in the country, Tony Parker, he was outworked. The biggest question is whether Hammons has the hunger to compete harder than guys like Parker.
  • He has trouble controlling big men with quicker feet, like Tony Parker showed. He’s gotta prevent the quicker big man from getting around him. This also relates to conditioning, but he will certainly have to work on his post-up defense when there’s a strong, quick player going against him.
  • Hammons’ conditioning is not there yet. In fact, he has a long way to go to play 20 plus minutes at the college level. I realize Oak Hill gets up and down the court a lot, but he was winded quickly in the first quarter. If Hammons can improve his conditioning, he can take advantage of fast breaks. As it is, he is not much of a threat in the transition.
  • He was called for an illegal screen in the first quarter. This is just a matter of improving his footwork and staying committed to the screen once he sets it.
  • Hammons was called for three fouls in the first half, so he really only played about 6 minutes or so in the first two quarters. Again, he’ll have to learn to stay out of foul trouble.
  • He played too tentative against Parker at the end of the game. I think some of this was playing with four fouls, but it seemed like he was afraid to play hard defense when Oak Hill was desperately trying to stop Parker, who finished with 27 points.
  • When he was passed the ball inside, he needs to show a little big more initiative to meet the ball before the defender gets there. Instead, he waited for the ball which resulted in one turnover and one deflection.
Miscellaneous:
  • Watching Oak Hill and Miller Grove is lots of fun. Both of these teams can fill it up and are full of athletic high major players.
  • I love the way Oak Hill point guard Tyler Lewis plays. He’s such a great passer and even if he’s not athletic, he plays so smart and prods the defense until he finds the right shot — either for himself or for his teammate. North Carolina State is lucky to have him. He may break assists records for the Pack.
  • I’m amazed how well these teams shoot. Some will say that the defense was poor, but it’s really not bad. You can give a lot more weight to stats in these games than in AAU games.
  • Jordan Adams, a UCLA commit, is a lights out shooter. Very, very impressive.
  • Tony Parker, the 6-9 and 250 lb power forward, will be a force in college. Ohio State or Duke will be his likely college destination. Parker really exposed Oak Hill when Hammons was out of the game. When Hammons was in the game, Parker found ways to get by him and set himself up for an easy shot around the basket.
  • I thought the fourth foul against Hammons was very weak. I didn’t see any contact and he didn’t even leave his feet. He just stretched his arms and was called for a foul. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see more Hammons because of the petty foul.
  • Oak Hill pulled out the victory. The game went down to the wire, but Steve Smith’s Oak Hill team won 82-78.
Bottom Line: Hammons only showed us glimpses of his potential. He was limited to playing about 12 minutes because of foul trouble. The big man finished with four points (2-3 FG). He had a big block and nearly 10 rebounds. He also had at least two assists. The big problem was that he got in foul trouble and that kept him on the bench for most of the game. He’ll have to improve his post defense, especially against big and quick players like Tony Parker. I can’t wait until he gets to West Lafayette because I think he’ll be an instant impact player.

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