Saturday, January 18, 2014

Daniel Hamilton's Not Signed (LOI), but Definitely Sealed and Delivered to UConn

If there were still any questions whether or not Daniel Hamilton was firmly committed to attending UConn next season, the 6-foot-8 shooting guard out of L.A.'s St. John Bosco High put them to rest on Saturday morning. Watch and listen:

Hamilton signed a financial aid agreement to attend UConn back in November but didn't sign a national letter-of-intent. The reason basically was because of the experience his older brother, Isaac, went through.

Daniel didn't want to be bound to a school like Isaac was, so he only signed the financial-aid forms.

"No schools are calling me, trying to recruit him," said Bosco coach Derrick Taylor. "He’s not looking at anyone else, so that’s all because of his brother ... It was such a bad experience with his brother, and that’s all that it was. But he’s loyal to UConn. I mean, he wears UConn garb everywhere he goes. And his parents wear UConn garb everywhere they go.”

When Isaac transferred to UCLA in September, some speculated that Daniel would soon follow.

“People just want to stir up some stuff, something they can talk about," Daniel said. "But, no, there were no facts about that.”

Hamilton said of UConn: “I’m real excited to come in and play for Coach Ollie, who’s a great dude. He went to Crenshaw High School, I went there my freshman year. There’s just a connection and a bond there, somebody I can trust, and somebody who can really help me better my game.”

“Coach Ollie’s a real good dude, just a solid dude. That’s when he first started recruiting me, at Crenshaw. He came out to a couple of pick-ups and a couple of games. Even when Isaac went to UTEP, Coach Ollie never stopped, when a lot of coaches and teams stopped recruiting me because they thought they didn’t have a (chance). But Coach Ollie never stopped recruiting me.”

Bosco plays in the Hoop Hall Classic tonight at 6 p.m. against St. Frances Academy (Md.) at Springfield College's Blake Arena. The team opened its practice to reporters this morning.

Hamilton and teammate Vance Jackson, 6-8, a Class of 2016 forward, will be at UConn's game against Louisville tonight.

Taylor, who also coached DeAndre Daniels at L.A.'s Taft High, said Hamilton is having a fine senior season.

“Daniel’s doing what we expect him to do. He’s having a really good year, leading us in scoring, rebounding and assists. And, he draws the toughest man every night.”

Taylor said Hamilton's greatest strength is his "versatility." In fact, Hamilton will play some point guard tonight, since Tyler Dorsey (an Arizona commit) didn't make the trip with the team.

What does Hamilton need to work on?

“Being patient, offensively. Sometimes he tries to force his offense, because he believes he can do so many things. At times, he takes more risks than he should.”

But, Taylor added, “He has a will to win like no other. As coach, it’s easier to turn a guy down than try to dial a guy up. You don’t ever have to turn him up. That guy is ready to play from Day One. He’s very quiet, his demeanor is low-key, but on the court he’s like a mad man.”

“(UConn is) going to give him the opportunity, that’s all he asks for. Daniel’s going to make his way. You’ll find out, he’s one of the most competitive individuals. And he thinks he’s better than everyone, so he’s going to try, try, try. I think you guys will love him. He’ll play so hard, and he’ll play the game correctly.”

Added Hamilton: “I think I’ve been playing alright, (but) I think I can play better. Just more of a leadership, being a ‘C,’ I think I can lead my team better. It’s something I’m trying to work on right now, maturity.”

As for next season at UConn, “It’s a matter of earning a spot. Nothing’s going to be given to me at all, so I just think I can come in and play if I work hard. That’s the main thing. And what I really want to do is just win.”

The southern Californian doesn't even mind the snowy weather he's encountering in New England this weekend.

“I like the cold weather," Hamilton said. "Matter of fact, I can’t even sleep unless the room is cold. That’s something people don’t know about me. I like it real cold. In the hotel room, I put it on as cold as it can be.”

*** Bosco principal Casey Yeazel also had good things to say about Hamilton.

“He’s a good young man. Given his talent and his ability, you would never know how many accolades he’s gotten, basketball-wise, because of the way he carries himself on campus. He’s very humble, never gets into trouble, takes care of everything we ask for academically. UConn’s getting a good, good young man. He comes from a good family, good parents. We’re really pleased to have him, a great piece to this whole program.”

*** Jackson is also being recruited by UConn, along with Arizona, UCLA, Arizona State, Washington, USC and Georgetown.

“He can shoot a basketball like you cannot believe," Taylor said. He added that the only weakness of Jackson's game is that he's not overly athletic.

"He's skilled, he's smart," the coach said, "and he can shoot it."

Said Jackson of UConn: “I just like the tradition they have, I like coach Kevin Ollie, and I like how they play. It seems like I can fit in there, too. I like their system.”

He did note that he needs to get "more physical ... more rebounds."

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