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Nothing was ever guaranteed for former Purdue striker Robbie Hummel.

From his basketball debut at Valparaiso, to a season with then-rookie goaltender Zach LaVine and an aging Kevin Garnett, to new debuts in “The Basketball Tournament” and beyond, Hummel has had his ups and downs. lows brought on by his extreme success in high school in Indiana. and college basketball and how quickly it can all be taken away.

After several stints with professional and amateur teams around the world, Hummel has found a new home in what was once considered an unlikely place for the former Boilermaker: color commentaries behind the touchline.

Hummel can now be heard illustrating and reviewing every intricate detail of matches from the courts he once dominated for 40 minutes a night, alongside some of the country’s most electrifying play-by-play commentators on the Big Ten Network and ESPN in venues everywhere. the country.

Hummel would go on to earn three All-Big Ten selections during his 2007-2012 Purdue playing career, a Big Ten All-Freshman Team berth, and Big Ten Tournament MVP in 2009. No Purdue player has won a Big Ten Tournament MVP selection. from Hummel.

Hummel first tore his ACL in the first half of a 1-point win over Minnesota in 2010, causing him to miss the entire 2010-11 season.

“Injuries are part of the game, but obviously it’s disappointing on so many levels because of everything Robbie Hummel has done for this program both on and off the court,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. in a 2010 statement. “As he begins his recovery and rehabilitation, Robbie will continue to provide integral leadership as we pursue our long-term team goals.”

Professional basketball was never a sure thing for the four-year-old former Boilermaker starter, even with his Indiana success.

After being selected with the 58th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves, injuries once again diluted his chances of playing basketball.

Three major injuries in two years, capped by a shoulder injury while playing abroad in Italy, continued to limit his playing time and his places on the professional rosters. Hummel bounced from the Timberwolves, to the then NBA Developmental League, Olimpia Milano in Lega Basket and even the Euro League in an effort to pursue his dream of playing professional basketball.

Although he found opportunities to continue playing basketball in the 2019 Olympic 3×3 team and in the “Basketball Tournament”, a 64-team tournament, featuring a host of former stars colleges playing for their alma maters and competing for a million-dollar prize, Hummel finally set his sights on a new way to stay involved in the game after a career-ending leg injury during an away game, an injury that would catapult him to stardom in a way he never thought possible.

Before and after Purdue

Hummel has been surrounded by basketball almost literally his entire life.

He attributed the start of his career to the powerful slam dunks and long-range shots he attempted on a Little Tykes plastic hoop at the age of one, his “obsession” immortalized in home videos taken by his parents, he said in his senior night send-off video.

Purdue’s memories of Hummel began when he was 5 years old in a semi-state game featuring his hometown Valparaiso Vikings and East Chicago hosted at Mackey Arena. He saw his first Purdue match late in college, when Purdue faced Austin Peay at Purdue’s home court.

Hummel continued to feed his obsession with the game as he watched the University of Illinois play basketball through his grandparents residing in Champaign, worked as a ball boy for the Valparaiso coaching legend Homer Drew and attended several Butler University games.

From there, Hummel used his talents and an endless amount of hard work to play with future Purdue teammate Scott Martin under Valparaiso High School head coach Bob Punter, where he would average 15.7 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game, according to All Star Bio.

Hummel led his team to a 20-3 record and atop the Duneland conference, earning the 71st-highest overall player ranking by Rivals prior to his signing.

As a four-star and one of Purdue’s highest-ranked recruits in recent memory, Hummel had offers from Purdue and Indiana, according to 247Sports.

His Amateur Athletic Union connections with now-NBA guard E’Twaun Moore and his recruitment by head coach Matt Painter led Hummel to choose the Boilermakers over more familiar options Valparaiso and Illinois.

“Coach Painter did a great job selling it was the best place for us,” Hummel said. “(Moore, JaJuan Johnson and I) could look back and say he was right.”

Former Purdue caretaker Ryne Smith described in an interview Tuesday the community he shared with Hummel and other Purdue stars during the 2007-08 ‘Baby Boilers’ era as a ‘special brotherhood’ and said Hummel was an important part of building an unforgettable team culture and a sense of togetherness in the Boilermaker locker room.

“It really is a family,” he said. “At any time I could call a teammate, and they would take care of whatever I needed.”

Hummel ranked second on the team in scoring with 11.4 points per game his freshman year, while leading the team in rebounds, guiding the Boilermakers to a second-round appearance in the NCAA Tournament, before being eliminated. by a team of Xavier Musketeers led by Derrick Brown. .

Broadcasting and NBC Sports

Hummel couldn’t believe the situation he had found himself in on New Year’s Eve.

To his surprise, and somewhat relieved, neither did his broadcast partner.

Hummel’s basketball commentary stardom boiled down to just one night: an opportunity to work side-by-side with NBC Sports play-by-play announcer Adam Amin during a Central Division game. end of January between the Chicago Bulls and the Indiana Pacers in what Hummel describes as a “two-day” deal with NBC Sports in late December.

With nearly a decade of Big Ten color commentary experience, from simulating live basketball commentary with Smith to calling Big Ten games with ESPN announcer Jason Benetti, Hummel knew he would be a good fit with the 35-year-old Chicago native and prove himself once and for all to be an effective analyst on one of basketball’s biggest stages.

It took less than three minutes for everything to almost unravel.

Amin’s false positive COVID-19 test, which caused momentary panic within NBC Sports and the Bulls after 10 Chicago players and Amin’s color commentary partner Stacey King were quarantined with positive tests a few weeks before. With no options left, the Chicago Bulls beat writer KC Johnson up to the occasion and donned a helmet in place of Amin.

With less than a minute of preparation time and an inability to determine whether to call him ‘KC’ or ‘Casey’, Hummel sat down with Johnson for frantic preparations in what would ultimately be their very first experience. NBA broadcast.

Johnson said he thought he could work seamlessly at times with the veteran advertiser in a blog post in early January, even though it was the first time they had worked together.

“Even though we sat apart, I felt connected,” Johnson said. “He’s really, really good at analysis.”

Hummel’s rise to broadcasting fame was almost inevitable. His ability for natural expression paired almost perfectly with the basketball proficiency he gained through his decades of playing experience, as well as his ability to prepare effectively for seemingly any situation, Smith said in an interview on Tuesday.

Hummel said his process came from the SportscasterU programs hosted by ESPN, reproducing the scoresheets of current “Voice of the Orange” at Syracuse TV and radio play-by-play announcer Matt Park in an easy-to-understand format for almost every team he could think of. It combines the Sheets with Synergy Sports, a scouting site designed to feature replays and player highlights, for each team’s top 10 players.

The preparation process, including compiling stats and viewing replays, can take four to five hours per team depending on the importance of a match and the amount of information available.

“He’s incredibly prepared,” Smith said. “He takes every game he plays and treats it like he’s putting together a scouting report for this one. That’s why he rose so quickly as a broadcaster.

In five years, the former Boilermaker had the chance to work with Benetti, Big Ten Networks sports commentator Kevin Kugler and Fox Sports broadcaster Brandon Gaudin, among others, while hosting a podcast with basketball analyst- ball from Jeff Goodman Stadium. Benetti and Hummel launched a short Twitter series titled “Bad Basketball,” where the two competed in friendly games and referenced some of Hummel’s Purdue memories in some of college basketball’s biggest arenas.

Working with national-level broadcasters on hundreds of game shows gave Hummel the confidence he needed to be a top-tier broadcaster, he said. It took him a full year to really get the rehearsals needed to become an effective broadcaster, but he felt lucky to have earned those rehearsals since his first recruitment by BTN and through the agent who recruited after watching just one of his BTN shows.

And after?

Although Hummel said he has lined up more shows with Amin and the Chicago Bulls, he said he hopes to continue pursuing his dream of calling NCAA Tournament games.

The environment created by college basketball games remains undefeated in the NCAA Tournament in Hummel’s eyes.

“I certainly enjoy both,” Hummel said. “It’s a good place for me right now.”

Even after competing in the Gold and Black more than a decade ago, Smith said Hummel’s style of play and demeanor hadn’t changed since coaching him in the TBT tournament. last summer. Although Hummel had set his sights on a future in broadcasting, Smith said, it meant more than anything recreating his Purdue experience with players from every Purdue campus and playing period.

“When (the tournament) is over, it hits you like a brick in the head,” Smith said. “You think it’s amazing, but you don’t have it anymore.

“Seeing (Hummel) compete again in the Gold and Black with teammates he had and hadn’t played with, hearing them tell all their stories and being together when they’re not on the pitch, has been an incredible experience. .”


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