Purdue sophomore center A.J. Hammons' maturity apparently doesn't match his NBA potential. Coach Matt Painter has suspended him for three games -- the two exhibitions against the University of Indianapolis and Wayne State, plus the Nov. 8 season opener against Northern Kentucky -- for a “violation of team rules.”
“A.J. has been suspended for the first three games of this season for conduct not representative of this program or university,” Painter said in a university release. “We expect the young men in our program to meet certain standards, and they must be held accountable when those standards are not met.”
Painter said this was an issue involving "conduct," ruling out academic, legal or NCAA concerns.
Hammons, a 7-0, 251-pound center from Gary, Ind., averaged 10.6 points and 6.0 rebounds last year ago and earned a spot on the Big Ten All-Freshman Team.
There is speculation that Hammons could enter next summer's NBA draft if he has a good enough sophomore season. Painter said during today's teleconference that he wants to help Hammons not just make the NBA, but be a player who lasts in the league for a long time.
Forwards Jay Simpson and Travis Carroll are expected to replace Hammons in the lineup. That will start with Wednesday night's exhibition against Indianapolis at Mackey Arena.
“This is one of these situations,” Painter said, “where you learn a lot about the individual, because when something like this happens, you've not only let your teammates down, but you've also let yourself down. If you have some pride, you're going to make sure it doesn't happen again and you don't have any more distractions. That's going to be his challenge.”
Painter hasn't hesitated to suspend players, or even kick them off the team, for off-court issues. He mentioned a player he suspended while coaching at Southern Illinois that turned out positive for the player and for his replacement.
“We took it as a positive,” Painter said, “even though sometimes it's tough when something happens and you have a distraction. But we took it as a positive and that's what we're going to try to do here.
"Jay Simpson and Travis Carroll, they're going to get to play more minutes and get to try to establish themselves with some positive play and use it as a springboard into the season, even when A.J. returns.”