WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Purdue Sports) – Purdue sophomore center A.J. Hammons has announced that he will return to the program for the upcoming 2014-15 season, ending speculation that he will enter the NBA Draft.
“I’ve decided to stay and continue my education here at Purdue, and there are a lot of goals I still want to accomplish with my teammates on the court,” Hammons said. “First and foremost, we want to get back to the postseason and compete for a Big Ten title. I feel like we owe our fans some better basketball. Purdue is a special place with a lot of great people and I’m excited to continue my education here and be a part of a great community.”
Head coach Matt Painter and Hammons met multiple times over the last month to discuss his standing with NBA teams and personnel and ultimately decided it was in Hammons’ best interest to return to school.
“Coach Painter has been fantastic during this process with me,” Hammons said. “We have gone over every report, and I have a good feel for where I stand and what I need to improve on. I know I have things to work on, and there is no better place for me to develop more as a player and as a person.”
“We are excited that A.J. has decided to remain in school and continue his education and career here at Purdue,” Painter said. “He is fully dedicated to helping us improve and he will be an instrumental piece for our program during the 2014-15 season. We look for continued development from A.J. and expect him to take on a significant leadership role next season.”
Hammons, a 7-foot, 251-pound center, averaged 10.8 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game a year ago for the Boilermakers. He was named to the Big Ten’s All-Defensive Team after leading the Big Ten in blocked shots and ranking second in the league in rebounding. He was the only player in the country during 2013-14 to post a game with at least 15 points, 15 rebounds, five blocks and four assists when he had 18 points, 16 rebounds, five blocks and four assists against No. 3-ranked Ohio State in the Big Ten opener. He paced the Big Ten (league games only) with six double-doubles.
For his career, Hammons has scored 694 points with 434 rebounds and his 163 career blocks rank fifth on the Purdue career list and are the sixth most nationally for a player through his sophomore seasons.
In addition, Hammons has improved his shooting percentages each season, jumping from 49.5 percent from the field as a freshman to 51.3 percent in 2013-14. He also shot 70.1 percent from the free throw line and will enter 2014-15 having made 16 of his last 17 attempts over the last six games from the charity stripe.
With his return, Purdue will return three starters from the 2013-14 team and five of its top seven scorers.