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Meet Daniel Hamilton, UConn’s top men’s basketball recruit for 2014-15

Daniel Hamilton

Daniel Hamilton1

Hamilton led St. John Bosco High to a California State championship this spring. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

6-7, 202 lbs.

Shooting Guard/Small Forward

Los Angeles, Calif.

It was an unbelievable spring for UConn, as the Huskies rolled to a completely unexpected and incredibly validating national championship. Kevin Ollie proved he could carry on the Connecticut tradition (We’re no Cinderella, We’re UConn!), and now he’s proving he can recruit with the best of them, too.

The Huskies have a solid recruiting class coming in for 2014-15. The most ballyhooed of which is L.A. native Daniel Hamilton, a 6-7 swingman who averaged 20.5 points, 9 rebounds and 5.2 assists at prestigious St. John Bosco High last season. Hamilton comes from a long line of talent, as brother Jordan starred at Texas and now plays in the NBA with the Houston Rockets. Another brother, Gary, played for Miami (FL) last season, and brother Isaac redshirted at UCLA last year and will be a freshman there this season.

As a freshman and sophomore, Daniel played at Crenshaw High School, where Kevin Ollie starred a quarter-century ago. Hamilton hasn’t signed a National Letter of Intent with the Huskies yet, but that’s because Isaac had a bad experience with a letter of intent at UTEP last year. Isaac signed his letter with the school, then decided he wanted to get out of it so he could move closer to home after his grandmother became sick. The NCAA ruled that he had to sit out the year.

We caught up with Daniel at the Jordan Classic in Brooklyn on Friday, where some of the nation’s top high school players were on display. Hamilton started for the West All-Stars and scored 10 points in 11 minutes of action.

Meet the kid who could be the next big thing for UConn:

WHY HE CHOSE UCONN: “It’s the person you’re playing for, and I think coach Ollie has been an inspiration. The way he coaches his players, they look like a family. They play like a family. Two years ago when they played against Michigan State (a 66-62 win in the Armed Forces Classic in Germany), they all came together after the game for the post-game interview. That just touched me, and that’s when I kind of figured out I was going there.”

WHAT HE CAN BRING NEXT YEAR: “I think I can bring versatility, coming in playing the shooting guard, small forward and being able to push it on the break and getting our players involved. Huskies fans can expect an even better year next year. I just hope we can live up to the hype.”

HOW HE FELT WHEN UCONN WON THE TITLE: “I was just so happy for coach Ollie. He’s been recruiting me since I was in ninth grade at Crenshaw. That was my first impression when they won, I was just so happy and everybody around my house was just yelling. We had about 13 people there [watching the game]. We were all so happy.

ON PLAYING IN NEW YORK: “I love it out here. The fans all love you and they embrace you. That’s why I like it out here, because there are no haters.”

ON HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH DEANDRE DANIELS: “I’ve [known] him all my life. We played on the same AAU teams together. I always played up with my brothers because I couldn’t really find an AAU team for myself. I’d be in sixth or seventh grade, and he was in eighth grade. He used to come over and spend the night.

ON DANIELS’ DECISION ABOUT THE NBA: “I haven’t talked to him yet. I just let him do his own thing. I would love to play with him. We’d have another chance to make a run if he comes back.”

ON HIS LETTER OF INTENT: “The reason why I didn’t sign it was I didn’t think it was fair the situation [Isaac] had to go through. When he signed it, we thought he was going [to UTEP] for sure. Then some stuff happened with my grandma. It was just unfortunate. Coach Ollie, my family and I are going to talk about it even more and I think I’m going to end up signing. It’s just a matter of time.”

WINNING HIS HIGH SCHOOL CHAMPIONSHIP: “Going home, it’s bragging rights, and when we all get together, it’s something to talk about at the family table. I think it’s a blessing.”

 

As told to Kels Dayton