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When Will the Purdue Boilermakers Get Back in the NBA Draft?

Hint: 2016.

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Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

The Boilermakers were last featured in the NBA Draft back in 2012 when Robbie Hummel snuck in at the 58th pick, landing at Minnesota. The standout Purdue alum ultimately had to play overseas for a season initially, but has spent the last two seasons on the active roster for the Timberwolves. Minnesota recently extended a qualifying offer to the forward, meaning he's likely to return once again in 2015-16.

That being said, this feature is based around looking at each individual team and when they'll get back into the draft (or who they'll have selected next). When it comes to Purdue it looks like a three year drought from the draft is likely to end next summer, barring any potential setbacks. Actually, the Boilermakers have a pretty decent chance of getting two guys into the draft if things go according to plan for incoming freshman Caleb Swanigan.

Purdue isn't exactly known for bringing in one-and-dones, with the last player assumed to only be making a temporary stop in West Lafayette now set to return for his senior season this year, but they did manage to edge out a who's who of programs (Michigan State, Kentucky, etc.) and land five-star Caleb Swanigan, widely considered to be one of the top recruits in the nation and a legitimate NBA prospect. Swanigan, who is from Fort Wayne, ended up staying in-state after a brief commitment to East Lansing. The decision to come to Purdue, mixed with the return of A.J. Hammons, will allow the 6'8" freshman to play as a power forward, something that reportedly helped sway his decision to stay in Indiana.

With Swanigan set to play this upcoming fall, if everything goes according to plan there's a realistic chance his tenure in West Lafayette could be short lived. At the same time, though, if things don't pan out as quickly as hoped, there's always a chance Swanigan could spend more than just a lone season on campus. Purdue fans would definitely love to see Swanigan stick around, but he's a legitimate NBA prospect and the reality is if he plays at a level to warrant a first round pick there's a solid chance he'll declare for the draft. Of course there's no guarantee that will happen after this season, so he could be drafted a bit further down the line.

That of course leaves the guy who will get drafted in all likelihood next summer. From his arrival on campus it's always been apparent that A.J. Hammons has the potential to land in the NBA, but he struggled throughout his first two seasons and there were plenty of questions about his commitment to the game (some of which were honestly blown out of proportion). Even with his flaws, Hammons has been pegged as high as a potential first round pick if he declared, with a number of other sites listing him in the second round of their mock drafts as well. The number of people predicting him getting drafted previously would have been higher as well if not for a lot of people under the belief he would return to college, like he ultimately chose to do the past several seasons.

Hammons decision to remain in West Lafayette has started to pay dividends, with Hammons having his best season by far this past winter. With Purdue easily fielding their best team in his four years this upcoming fall, mixed with the Big Ten losing a lot of their notable stars (Frank Kaminsky, D'Angelo Russell, Sam Dekker), there is a legitimate chance that A.J. could be primed to be one of the biggest stars in the conference. The Big Ten, conference play and an impressive tournament run have been launching pads for several other Big Ten players (Dekker, Nik Stauskas), and Hammons has plenty of momentum heading forward.

After two seasons of performing sporadically, the addition of center Isaac Haas likely set a fire under Hammons, even more so when the newcomer started to take away his minutes. Mix in the ability for Haas to spell Hammons, helping with his foul issues, and Hammons improved dramatically last season. While still a bit raw on offense, which could limit his potential in the NBA, his ability to eat up boards on the glass and his impressive outing on defense show that Hammons could very well be a solid defensive center in the NBA. If the 7'0" Gary native can become more assertive with the ball inside and add some consistency to his mid-range game? Well then he very well would be a first round pick next summer.

So far a lot of mock drafts for 2016 have Hammons listed in the second round, though some have him in the first round, but if Hammons and Purdue can continue to build from last season his stock is likely set to rise. Either way, though, the seven footer is most likely going to end up in the draft, set to end a three year drought for the Boilermakers.