Carmel's At It Again

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Following in the foot steps of one of the nation's top prospects can be tough. But for A.J. Hammons, following a few years after Josh McRoberts has been an after thought.

A.J. Hammons doesn't feel any pressure.

Despite coming from the same school – Carmel (Ind.) High -- and playing for the same coach, Hammons isn't feeling any extra anxiety following behind former No. 1 prospect Josh McRoberts.

"He has a different game and I have a different game," Hammons told following practice on Tuesday.

Five years ago it was McRobert, a 6-foot-10, 240-pound big man, that was the talk of Carmel basketball. Now Hammons, a sophomore, is getting in shape, developing his post moves and becoming more assertive in the post.

Carmel coach Mark Galloway has an auspicious feeling about coaching two high level prospects in such a short time span.

"You're happy and lucky to get one, but when you get two with that kind of size you're really excited," Galloway said.

"He's continued to get better," Galloway said about Hammons. "Josh was always so much more skilled. Josh could dribble, pass and shoot. A.J. is not that. He's more of a dominant force inside."

Although both McRoberts and Hammons, a 6-foot-11, 260-pound center, have similarities in size, their games are completely different.

"A.J. is bigger and A.J. is thicker and stronger," Galloway said. "Josh was probably only about 230 pounds. A.J. was bigger, there's more of him. Josh was more of a face up guy, where A.J. is your traditional back to the basketball five man.

Hammons has led Carmel to a 13-6 record, while averaging eight points, eight rebounds and five blocks. Despite drawing attention from over a dozen college programs, Hammons says he's not playing his best.

"To me I'm not [playing great]," he said. "I read on the internet where somebody said I had just two post moves, and I pretty much do, but they work sometimes. I just need to try some new ones out and see if they work and I need to get better on defense."

While Hammons sees areas for improvement, his coach points to his improvements and the strides he's made since he added him to his high school program.

"His body has changed," Galloway said. "He's starting to take a little more pride in taking care of his body and getting in shape. He's trimmed down and is right at 260 right now. He has a long ways to go with strength, and he is lifting weights now."

"He's starting to develop a go-to move and he's got a pretty good drop step move and he's starting to get a jump hook to the middle," he added. "Being 6'11 and shooting a jump hook is tough to block."

According to Galloway, Hammons is a force on both ends of the floor. Offensively he's their focal point, while defensively they rely on him, as he leads the state in blocked shots.

"We play through him," he said. "There's no doubt in anybody's mind that A.J. is going to touch the ball. When we gets it in the half court we are going to get the ball to him. One the defensive end, he's our anchor. He anchors our defense. He can control the game, not only blocking shots, but changing shots."

Throughout the season a number of college coaches have stopped by Carmel's massive gymnasium to take in games. Galloway said he's spotted Indiana, Notre Dame, Purdue, Cincinnati, Xavier, Minnesota and Ohio State.

"It's going pretty good," Hammons said of the recruiting process. "I'm not really trying to look at colleges. I'm just trying to get my grades."

Hammons has taken a handful of visits, including unofficial trips to Indiana, Purdue and Ohio State. Thus far the Hoosiers are the only school to offer the 2012 prospect and he's intrigued by their proximity to his home.

"That'd be a good school to go to," Hammons said about Indiana. "It's close to home. I wouldn't have to go very far."

"I'm not trying to go to far, but I would go out of state," Hammons added.

Hammons was quick to point out that Ohio State is a school he's taking a close peak at. He took a trip there with his high school squad for a team camp. This summer, Carmel is planning a trip to North Carolina's team camp.

While the regional interest is certainly strong for Hammons, much like McRoberts' recruitment, Galloway expects some of the top national programs to begin making their moves as well.

"I'm anticipating a lot more [interest] coming," Galloway said. "The Carolinas and Dukes. I'm just waiting on that."

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