Larry's Legends: Draft night, like career at Purdue, not easy for Robbie Hummel

The former Purdue forward was eventually drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves-but not after a few hours of stress on a hot night in West Lafayette.

WEST LAFAYETTE - A late night discovery seemed to confirm the destiny that lay ahead.

While scouring though a few boxes of pictures this past week, Linda Hummel stumbled on a photograph from the early days of her son's life.

This wasn't even a picture of Robert Joseph Hummel-just a cake.

"It was from his baptism day," said Linda Hummel, as she proudly showed off the photo.

Spelled out in frosting was his name, date of birth with an angel in the middle. On the left of that was a tennis racket-a tribute to Robert's tennis career at the University of Illinois.

What was on the right, however, is the decoration that provided a bit of premonition.

"A basketball that says "N-B-A," said the mother proudly as she pointed to the little orange replica. Linda even created an arrow out of paper to point to the significance of this part of the photograph.

It was put amongst a collection of them inside the party room at Bruno's Restaurant in West Lafayette, where over 100 of Hummel's family and friends gathered to watch the 2012 NBA Draft. The included former teammates like JaJuan Johnson and Chris Kramer, a few current Boilermaker players along with those from his basketball past in Valparaiso.

This was to be the culmination of an up-and-down five years for the forward, who overcame injury to be a three-time All Big Ten selection for Purdue in leading them to the NCAA Tournament four times.

"His agent was very positive that he'd be drafted tonight," said Robbie's father Glenn, hoping that the 105 degree weather outside would stay there on a carefree draft night.

But this is Robbie Hummel. Nothing's come easy-remember the pair of ACL tears that cost him the better part of two seasons?

Sure, he was eventually picked up in the second round by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the 58th overall selection-but not after cranking up that thermostat in a room that shrunk at the sun went down. 

"I am nervous, I don't know why," said former Purdue teammate Ryne Smith as the picks began-and suddenly he began to figure out why. 

Anticipation reached the first of many zeiniths towards the end of the first round, where Oklahoma City and Miami were ready to select. Solid workouts made him a candidate for both places, but each time other names were boomed across the room on televisions. 

"I thought with the way I worked out for a few teams I thought I had a shot," said Hummel of the opening round-but his stress was just beginning.

After that the forward said his goal was to get picked somewhere in the late 30s. Again the picks came and went without Hummel's name being said. By this point he had left the rear of the room where he had been standing for the isolation of a prep room with a view of the television hanging from the ceiling. 

"Annoying my agent and people who work for him," said Hummel of how he passed the time as the pick went into the 40s without his name being read.

A few of those calls and texts drew a few eager glances toward the small room where Hummel was standing. As the draft reached No. 50 hopes were quickly crushed by the voice of NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver saying someone else's name. 

"I was thinking why did we have this high hope for that number pick, that 47 was going to be our pick," said Linda Hummel-referring to many's expectation that Hummel would go to the Jazz. "When that went by it was 'That's OK, That's OK'.

"Then as we got to 50 and 56 it was like I'm just going to give up hope, I'm just going to listen and watch."

Glenn was watching Robbie around the time the 57th pick was selected and noticed an usual thing. Hummel was again on the phone, but this time his brother was offering a signal of hope.

"He gave me a thumbs up," said Glenn Hummel of Robbie's brother. "I wasn't sure what he was signaling me but I figured it probably was good."

A minute later that was confirmed. Hummel's name was read, an unknowing room erupted in cheers even before the name of Robbie's school was read. 

After a minute of hugs from friends and family, Hummel emerged to the road of applause and the flicker of cameras on a gallery overcome with a joyous relief. The forward was off to play for the Timberwolves-even if the years of waiting took years off his future life.

"I don't know how to explain it to you guys, it was a surreal experience," said Hummel of the moment he was picked. "To have my name called is something I wanted to have happen since I was three years old."

We'll actually its even earlier than that. His mom has the proof.

 

 

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