Purdue center A.J. Hammons has been suspended for two exhibition games and the regular season opener against Northern Kentucky because of team rules violations, coach Matt Painter announced Monday.
A.J. has been suspended for the first three games of this season for conduct not representative of this program or university, Painter said. We expect the young men in our program to meet certain standards, and they must be held accountable when those standards are not met.
The 7-foot center’s suspension was not related to academics or legal matters, Painter said. Hammons averaged 10.6 points, six rebounds and two blocks per game and earned Big Ten All-Freshman Team honors last season.
The Boilermakers will rely on Hammons this season as one of their primary playmakers in the post.
Redshirt freshman Jay Simpson and senior Travis Carroll will also see time at the center spot, while Simpson could also play at power forward. But neither 6-9 forward offers the defensive ability Hammons has or his shot-blocking prowess.
Hammons dropped more than 30 pounds in the offseason and it looked as if his conditioning had improved during a scrimmage in West Lafayette on Saturday.
Painter had been pleased with Hammons’ and Simpson’s progress, and although the Boilermakers will use a lot of small lineups this year since guard play is their strength, improvement in attitude and performance from both could dictate whether that can work.
They put themselves in better shape, and they can stay up with a game now. They’re not always behind plays, Painter said after the opening day of practice Sept. 28. And I’m not saying they’re in the best shape in the world, but they both came in around 280, 285 – they’re both at 250. Their ability to run and help us on the defensive end, I think, have been major improvements for them.
Last season Hammons was benched at the start of the Northwestern game Feb. 2 because he was late for a team bus.