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Robbie Hummel dribbled a basketball, laughed along with assistant coach Paul Lusk and began shooting Tuesday afternoon in Mackey Arena.
They were just individual drills, but for the first time since suffering a season-ending knee injury in February at Minnesota, the 6-foot-8 forward participated in a structured basketball environment.
He will visit with Dr. Donald Shelbourne on Tuesday, and after that appointment, Hummel hopes to be cleared to play five-on-five.
"I'm excited to get back out here," Hummel said. "I'm a little bit nervous, but I guess that's part of it. I am going to do everything that is not one-on-one.
"I haven't been cleared to play yet, but that should be coming in the next few weeks. I'm chomping at the bit. I'm bored. I'm sick of lifting weights and not being able to play."
Through a rigorous weight training program, Hummel weighs a solid 230 pounds. His upper body is chiseled.
"It was sort of planned, because we knew that I would be able to work on my upper body," Hummel said. "It's one of the positives that could come out of this negative.
"The coaches presented that as a possibility. I could improve my strength, and it was good to try to get that done in the offseason."
Hummel has been doing individual shooting drills, but until Tuesday, he wasn't participating in team drills.
"I feel good," Hummel said. "I feel like I'm almost normal. I'm looking forward to getting back out here. Physically, I can't jump at all. My vertical jump is horrible.
"But everyone I've talked to said that will come back. That's not a huge concern at this point."
As Hummel worked out, many teammates, including E'Twaun Moore, JaJuan Johnson and Lewis Jackson, looked on, eager to see how far Hummel has come since surgery in March.
"He has done a lot of stuff by himself," Johnson said. "For him to get back out here is pretty cool. I'm happy to see him out there. That means he is one step closer."
Jackson, who missed most of last season with a broken left foot, wants Hummel to take his time. Purdue's regular-season opener is Nov. 14.
"We're eager, but I don't care if it takes Rob until two days before practice," Jackson said. "Everybody here understands the situation. We want him to be there, but we're not eager for him to rush into it. I don't want him to come back 60 to 75 percent.
"I know it's tough not being able to be out here and compete. We want him to be 100 percent. I know how he feels. An ACL injury is a way more serious injury than mine. He just wants to help his team."
Hummel acknowledges that Purdue trainer Jeff Stein has had to remind him to be patient.
"Jeff had to slow me down," Hummel said. "It was challenging, because I'm used to playing basketball year-round."
For now, Hummel is wearing a protective knee brace.
"I honestly don't know how long they want me to wear it," he said. "I would hope I wouldn't have to wear it at all during the season. But that's one of those I guess I will listen to the doctor."
Hummel appreciates the support he has received from fans, but he has had a difficult time maintaining privacy in his life. He had no idea fans cared so much about his every move.
"It's surprising to see how crazy all the (social) media stuff is," Hummel said. "If I go to a golf course, people find out about it. If I'm at the movies, people find out about it.
"The whole Twitter and Facebook thing gets kind of crazy. You have to be careful, even when you're just out playing golf. You have to be careful what you are saying and who you are around."
If he were strong enough to play a more inside game, I'd be all for it. But strength starts with your lower body, where he has none. I think he'll be okay, but I don't see him coming close to matching Moore and Johnson production wise. As long as they both step their game up, that's fine.