The Purdue Boilermakers came in with high hopes for a Big Ten and possibly a national championship, but their college basketball season took a serious turn for the worse before it even got started when Boilers MVP Robbie Hummel went down for the count on October 15th. Now Boilers coach Matt Painter will no doubt emulate Britney Spears by saying “Gimme More,” as in E’Twaun Moore and also run more offense through power forward JaJuan Johnson.
JJ talked about how tough it was for his close friend Hummel to see a second season end so disappointingly.
“We came in together, have a really close relationship and I really felt bad for him personally. That really is one of the main reasons I came back to this school, to have the opportunity to play with these guys again, it kind of sucks for him,” Johnson said.
He also mentioned that Hummel received about 200 text messages within the two minutes after it was announced that he was out for the season.
By Paul M. Banks
JaJuan Johnson recorded nine double-doubles last season while leading Purdue to its best start in 16 years (14-0). Finishing with a 14-4 record in conference play, Johnson led Purdue to its first Big Ten title in fourteen years. In an average of 31.3 minutes a game, Johnson averaged 15.4 points (3rd on team), 7.3 rebounds (1st), and 1 steal per game. Johnson shot 72 percent at the line, while leading the top ten ranked Purdue squad with 2 blocks a game and shooting 51 percent from the floor. He was named second team All-Big Ten and received consecutive Big Ten All-Defensive Team honors at the end of the regular season.
This year he has to do all that and much more. It helps that he’s gained the weight he needs, the “good weight” and kept it on.
“I can tell a difference on the court, I’m finishing plays that I might not have finished a year ago so I’m definitely going in the right direction,” JJ said at media day about his 52 pound weight gain, which MUST be some sort of offseason record.
Part of the weight gain obviously comes from diet, Johnson said he gets to eat pretty much whatever he wants, but that he enjoys bagels the most. Part of the weight gain comes from you guessed it, weight-lifting. Johnson now benches 325, tied with former teammate Chris Kramer, a graduated defensive stopper that doubled as one of the least-liked players in Big Ten history.
“I found lifting more fun this year. I’ve always taken it serious but this year I’ve enjoyed competing with myself to get stronger,” he said.
Johnson ended last season with the second most career blocks in school history (184), after Joe Barry Carroll‘s 349. Johnson holds the third highest average in school history with 1.7 per game.
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