On Saturday afternoon, Purdue center AJ Hammons opted to forego the 2015 NBA Draft and return to Purdue for his senior season. Hammons has played in three seasons for Purdue and earned All-Big Ten 2nd Team honors last season as he was a key contributor in Purdue's NCAA Tournament appearance.
Hammons announced his decision in a release from Purdue. Hammons talked about the importance of earning his degree at the university.
"Earning my degree is one of the most important goals that I have for myself and returning to Purdue next year will enable me to reach that."
He also spoke about his hopes in returning to Purdue for next season.
"I feel that our team has a lot of unfinished business to reach next season and I want to be a part of something special. Purdue is an outstanding school with great people and the chance to compete for a Big Ten Championship and more is something I want to experience again with my teammates."
Head coach Matt Painter also talked about Hammons' decision to return.
"We are excited that A.J. has decided to remain in school and continue his education and career at Purdue. A.J. will be a very large part of our team next year and we are looking for him to play with the consistency and effort that we know he is capable of playing with. We look for continued development from A.J. and expect him to take on an even-larger leadership role on and off the court during the offseason and into next season."
For Purdue, this is a massive boost to their hopes for next season. Hammons played in 34 games for the Boilermakers last season with a defensive rebounding rate of 19.7% and a block rate of 12.3%, which were both highs for the team last season. Despite his minutes being reduce due to the play of freshman Isaac Haas, Hammons received major minutes down the stretch including at least 25 minutes in 5 of the team's final 6 games including their matchup with Cincinnati in the NCAA Tournament.
With Hammons back in the lineup, Purdue has a chance to build off a great defensive season where they ranked second in the conference in defensive efficiency.
For Hammons, this is also a chance to add more to his legacy with the Boilermakers and perhaps improve his NBA stock enough to be selected in the 2016 NBA Draft. Either way, Purdue fans have to be excited about what the team should have for next season.