When longtime fans of LSU men’s basketball heard a Hammink was joining the program, most probably envisioned a 7-footer setting up in the post and attacking opponents with a nice touch around the basket.
That’s how Shane Hammink’s father, Geert, made his mark. But it’s nothing like Shane’s game.
“He’s like 7 foot,” Shane Hammink said of his father. “I’m a little bit shorter than that. I play on the outside. I drive. Shoot. Totally different style of play from my dad.”
A smooth, penetrating wing who measures 6-7, 210 pounds, Shane Hammink rarely draws comparisons to the man who played center at LSU two decades ago.
But he hopes to leave a similar legacy.
Geert Hammink backed up Shaquille O’Neal for three seasons, then got his first shot as a starter before the 1992-93 season, after O’Neal left school a year early to become the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. All Shane’s dad did in that one year was average 15.3 points and 10.2 rebounds, earn first-team All-Southeastern Conference recognition at center and help lead LSU to its 10th straight trip to the NCAA tournament.
A first-round draft choice by the Orlando Magic that spring, Geert Hammink played most of his pro career overseas.
Shane Hammink arrived at LSU in August and will open his freshman season with the Tigers next month. He will be the second Hammink coached by Johnny Jones, an LSU assistant during Geert’s career.
“His dad was obviously a great player, played behind one of the greatest centers to ever play the game, behind Shaquille,” Jones said. “He stepped in and did an excellent job his senior year.”
Even though he grew up half a world away from his father’s alma mater, Shane Hammink said he had much the same reverence for LSU as kids who grow up in New Orleans or Shreveport.
It was at LSU that his dad met Shane’s mother, Rhonda.
Shane Hammink was born in Baton Rouge before moving to Greece at age 2. His parents now live in Holland.
“I’ve dreamt of this moment for a long time,” Shane Hammink said. “Ever since I started playing basketball, my dad told me he played here. So it’s been my dream to come here.”
Fans who watch Hammink penetrate the lane and make acrobatic plays around the basketball won’t be reminded of his father. But they have be reminded of a certain Argentinian-born NBA star who also shoots with his left hand.
Teammates have compared Hammink to Manu Ginobili, the San Antonio Spurs guard known for his slashing style.
“He kind of has that same Ginobili-like Euro step and that same one-legged athleticism,” LSU forward Eddie Ludwig said.
There have been plenty of adjustments for a young man who has still never attended an LSU basketball game. A young man who was playing for Canaries Basketball Academy in Spain only a year ago.
In the end, though, Jones said Hammink will face the same challenges as most newcomers.
“He has great length, and he can really shoot the basketball,” Jones said. “I think his biggest deal is just catching up with the speed of the game. It won’t be any different than any other freshman that we have on this team. I think the speed of the game and how physical the game is is something that he’ll definitely have to make an adjustment to.”