Purdue center A.J. Hammons will return for his senior season, according to a release from the Purdue athletic department.
“Earning my degree is one of the most important goals that I have for myself and returning to Purdue next year will enable me to reach that,” Hammons, who is on track to graduate next May, said. “In addition, I feel that our team has a lot of unfinished business to reach next season and I want to be a part of something special. Purdue is an outstanding school with great people and the chance to compete for a Big Ten Championship and more is something I want to experience again with my teammates.”
Head coach Matt Painter and Hammons met over the last couple of weeks to discuss his standing with NBA teams and personnel and decided it was in Hammons’ best interest to return for his senior season
“After getting the reports from the NBA evaluation process, I know what I need to improve on to carry my game to the next level,” Hammons added. “This is the best place for me to develop as both a player and as a person.”
“We are excited that A.J. has decided to remain in school and continue his education and career at Purdue,” Painter said. “A.J. will be a very large part of our team next year and we are looking for him to play with the consistency and effort that we know he is capable of playing with. We look for continued development from A.J. and expect him to take on an even-larger leadership role on and off the court during the offseason and into next season.”
Hammons was considered a potential second round pick in the upcoming 2015 NBA Draft. I had him ranked at No. 42 on my top-100 prospect rankings board.
The center thought about leaving after his sophomore season as well, but ultimately decided to stay for a junior season that saw him earn second-team All-Big Ten honors in leading the Boilermakers to the NCAA Tournament. Given that Hammons will turn 23 in August, some had believed that he was a threat to leave this season in order to start his professional career. However, he’ll now return and attempt to solidify himself as a first-round pick in 2016 in what will likely be a weaker NBA Draft than the 2015 iteration.
With Hammons’ return, the Boilermakers should make a return to the NCAA Tournament next season. They should be a candidate to be ranked in the preseason polls in 2015-16, as they return everyone from their No. 9-seeded team other than point guard Jon Octeus. Also, given that seven of the 10 players that made first or second-team All-Big Ten are leaving (with Yogi Ferrell also still up in the air), Hammons will be one of the preseason favorites for Big Ten Player of the Year next year.