Purdue Great Robbie Hummel Finds Second Career in 3x3
In addition to broadcasting duties, Robbie Hummel has become a national champion 3x3 player and Olympic hopeful
Robbie Hummel’s basketball career maybe didn’t go exactly as he expected it to go, but it has been an fun journey for him nonetheless, one that has taken him from college stardom at Purdue University to two seasons in the NBA and several more abroad.
“It’s been an interesting journey, that’s for sure,” Hummel said. “Super highs, super lows. But it’s been a fun career.”
After an injury-plagued career, Hummel retired as a pro in 2017 to begin a broadcasting career and currently serves as a commentator for Big Ten Network. But the 30-year-old is now back playing basketball in addition to broadcasting and has become a top 3x3 player with USA Basketball.
He helped the Ariel Slow and Steady team win the 2019 Red Bull USA Basketball 3x3 Nationals in Las Vegas earlier this month. He is currently ranked No. 4 in the U.S. and has risen No. 40 in the world.
It’s interesting how Hummel got started in the sport.
“I got into it not by accident but because of Craig Moore, who I play with on the pro circuit,” Hummel said. “He and I played against each together in college. He was at Northwestern my junior and senior year. When I was going to retire, he was kind of like, ‘No, you’re too young, you still are good and should keep playing.’”
So, Hummel began playing 3x3 and has grown to love it.
“It’s a fun sport to play,” he said. “For me, it’s like the perfect transition to being done with five-on-five and getting into the broadcasting world. Because broadcasting starts about a little before Thanksgiving and then goes on to the Final Four, and the first 3x3 tournament is like, April, and it goes to October. So, it’s a perfect schedule and goes together well.”
The 3x3 game is somewhat different from the renowned five-on-five game. Obviously, there are just three players on the court at a time, and they play on just a half-court which has one basket. There are no quarters or halftimes, and the game ends when a team reaches 21 points.
“It’s a different sport,” Hummel said. “There’s the different strategy. And you’re playing half court. … There are some weird tendencies you pick up on and take advantage of. It’s fun. Sometimes they really let you play. There aren’t a ton of fouls called. It’s a fun sport to play.”
And the sport is growing worldwide. For instance, Hummel plays all over the globe. Last year, he said he played in Seoul, then outside of Shanghai, Beijing, Malaysia, India, Amsterdam, Italy, Romania and Mexico in addition to in the U.S. And this year will be no different.
“My coming month here is pretty wild,” Hummel said. “We play in Belgrade (Serbia), then I’ll be in Barcelona where I’ll have a few days to kind of hang. Then fly to China and play there for a weekend, come back to the states for like three days and play with USA Basketball. We’re going for the (FIBA 3x3) World Cup, so be in New York for two days and then in Amsterdam for like two weeks.’’
Not only that, 3x3 basketball also will be included in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, where Hummel hopes to win a medal. He hasn’t competed in the Olympics before but did win a bronze medal with USA Basketball at the 2009 World University Games.
“That would be a pretty cool experience,” he said of the 2020 Olympics. “My parents took me to the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. I’ve been to an Olympic game but haven’t played there.
“Winning a medal would be cool.”
Jet lag can be an issue with flying overseas so often and for short periods of time, but Hummel is getting more used to it.
“The most important thing is you have to stay awake until its bedtime,” he said. “Regardless of how tired you are. You’ve got to do that. You have to try hydrate, try to do your best sleeping and go from there.”
Meanwhile, how long will Hummel continue playing 3x3? That’s hard to say.
“Good question,” he said. “I think with broadcasting, I certainly have the time to do it. I still love to play. I think the Olympics are on everybody’s mind coming up. I think, if it’s fun, I will still do it. I just think that as long as it’s enjoyable and it makes sense to do it, why not? When it’s over, it’s definitely over.’’
But for now, Hummel will keep playing. And playing very well. And then after he stops playing, perhaps he will start broadcasting the growing sport.