According to his teammates, A.J. Hammons is a completely different guy than he was his sophomore year in high school.
Freshman guard Rapheal Davis, who has known Hammons since he was 14, said the change in his play was noticeable in his work ethic.
“This was the hardest I have ever seen him work,” Davis said. “He is putting in a lot of work and focus. It may not show to other people but he is just focused about basketball and he has taken it as a main priority and (he is) getting the job done.”
Davis played AAU basketball with Hammons in high school and said that back then, the 7-footer sometimes didn’t show passion for the game. Sometimes, the Oak Hill product wouldn’t wake up for road games and practice.
“There were a lot of those moments when he wouldn’t wake up,” Davis said. “He probably lost about 50 pounds. He is more focused now. He wants to come and work for it. (In the past,) sometimes he didn’t want to come, now he wants to come and play.”
Part of Hammons improved play and effort has to do with his slimmed down figure. The big man has burned about 70 pounds since he first met Davis five years ago. With Hammons on a diet here at Purdue, his room only has two types of food and drink.
“We really don’t keep food in the dorms, cause he is on a diet,” Davis said. “All we have in the room is yogurt and water.”
For head coach Matt Painter, the next step in Hammons’ progression is consistency.
“A.J. has to be more consistent in his approach to every single day,” Painter said. “He is a lot better and you guys saw that (in Purdue’s game versus Oregon State) … he shows promise and we just need
consistency, not always in scoring, but defensively and on the glass as well.
Hammons and the rest of the Purdue team are next in action 7:15 p.m. Wednesday against the Clemson Tigers.