A.J. Hammons is a rare breed of college basketball player, a long-armed 7-footer with a massive frame, solid mobility and a back to the basket game. Barring a Big Ten conference tournament miracle, his Purdue team will miss the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season, after making the Dance the previous six years before he arrived on campus. Hammons is a real inside presence on both ends of the floor, seeing a significant portion of his offense inside the paint and also being quite an intimidating presence defensively. He has the strength needed to establish deep post-position, reliable hands, and is capable of getting off the floor effectively to finish emphatically around the rim, even through contact.
Not particularly skilled or polished, Hammons relies on his size and strength to get the job done at the college level. His footwork isn't particularly advanced, as he only makes a lackluster 52% of his 2-point attempts, but he gets to the free throw line at an excellent rate, and converts 70% of his attempts once there. A mediocre passer at best, Hammons generates one assist for every 41 minutes he's on the court, ranking last among Top-100 prospects in PPR, assist to turnover ratio, assists per possession, and basically every other passing metric. His shot-selection and decision making is extremely poor at times, which is partially due to the quality of his teammates, as he has very few Big Ten quality options alongside him.
Hammons is somewhat of a mixed bag defensively. On one hand he ranks as one of the top shot-blockers in all of college basketball, rejecting 5 shots per-40 minutes, as his long arms, solid mobility and excellent timing make him quite a presence as a rim protector. On the other hand, his fundamentals on this end of the floor are overall quite poor, as he can be extremely lazy in the way he approaches his work here, rarely getting in an actual stance, doing a poor job of contesting shots, and letting opponents blow right by him without any resistance. He's somewhat of a liability in the pick and roll, and is fairly foul prone, which is one of the reasons he only plays 24 minutes per game for a Purdue team that lacks great frontcourt depth.
As a rebounder, Hammons shows potential, as his big frame, long arms, soft hands and solid mobility can make him quite a presence when he's really dialed in. He's averaging over 12 rebounds per-40 minutes, a solid mark, but would almost certainly be considered elite at the college basketball level if he played with the same intensity and did a better job of boxing out opponents consistently. Hammons is reportedly highly likely to put his name in the 2014 NBA Draft, which makes sense considering he is the same age as many collegiate seniors, as he turns 22 this August. His excellent size, long arms, strong frame, shot-blocking prowess and budding offensive game give him a very good chance to get drafted, especially considering how few true centers there are these days.
How about you? What do you think? Does this guy have the goods to be a sleeper pick in the NBA Draft? See what the folks of +DraftExpress have to say and always keep up with all 30 +NBA teams right here on +Slap Dog Hoops. Be sure to stay tuned to SDH in the coming weeks as I will be recapping, reviewing and ranking the performances of all thirty teams in the Association in my Worst to First Countdown.