Special to ZAGSBLOG
NEW YORK — Daniel Hamilton is long and lanky — almost as if he has been stretched out with a rolling pin — which is an asset that one cannot teach.
He is one-third of the NCAA champion UConn Huskies’ 2014 recruiting class that also includes junior college guard Sam Cassell Jr. and N.C. state transfer Rodney Purvis.
As the eighth ranked shooting guard in the country, Hamilton is the only UConn recruit on ESPN’s Top 100 list (30th) and the only member of the class invited to New York this week for the Jordan Brand Classic. And even though Hamilton has not formally signed a Letter of Intent, UConn fans should not be worried.
“I’m most definitely going to go to UConn— 100 percent,” Hamilton said after practice Wednesday afternoon at Basketball City in Manhattan. “I’m real anxious [to get out to UConn] , especially after they won that championship.”
The only thing seemingly holding Hamilton back from formally signing an LOI was his brother Isaac’s experience at UTEP. Now there is talk of UConn coach Kevin Ollie potentially leaving Storrs for the NBA, but Hamilton, who said he spoke to Ollie right before he came to New York, does not foresee that being an issue.
“Yeah, I heard the rumors,” Hamilton said. “But I don’t think [Ollie] is going nowhere no time soon… If he’s staying, I’m most definitely going for sure. If he leaves, I don’t know, because that’s the reason I’m going there.”
Hamilton’s close relationship with Ollie has been well-documented. The two are connected through their Los Angeles roots: Hamilton attended Crenshaw High School his freshman year of high school (before then transferring to St. John Bosco), where Ollie graduated from in 1991. Of course, Ollie then traveled East to UConn as a highly regarded prospect himself.
“He can relate to a lot of the younger guys, he can talk to us how a lot of coaches can’t talk to us,” Hamilton said. “He can relate to me and know where I’m coming from, from the West coast to the East Coast. It’s just a blessing.”
Hamilton said he fell in love with UConn while tagging along on a recruiting trip that his older brother Isaac took. Isaac is currently on the roster at UCLA, but had to sit out all of last season after breaking the LOI agreement that he had initially signed with Texas- El Paso because he wanted to be closer to his grandmother who fell ill. What struck Daniel Hamilton on the trip to Storrs with his brother was the “family environment” that is fostered at UConn.
Hamilton said that the family environment, or “brotherhood,” would only be strengthened if his friend DeAndre Daniels returns next season. Daniels is also a Los Angeles kid, and the two have known each other since they were young. Hamilton said that Daniels used to sleep over at his house when they were growing up. Daniels, currently the slotted 29th in DraftExpress’s 2015 Mock Draft, has yet to decide if he is going to enter the NBA draft. Ollie told SNY.tv Monday he planned to meet with Daniels and junior guard Ryan Boatright this week to discuss their plans.
“Oh yeah, most definitely [I would like to have Daniels come back next season], especially since I’ve been knowing him since I was young,” Hamilton said. “It would be a good experience and it will be that brotherhood mentality, being able to go over there and have a brother like DeAndre.”
While Hamilton said he did not speak to Daniels regarding his draft decision, he did sent him a “congratulations” message after the Huskies won the NCAA Championship. DeAndre’s response, — “Appreciate it, it’s your turn now” — might seem to presage a departure for Daniels, however.
Hamilton says he plans to start summer school at Storrs in June and work on building up his strength. He said that he believes that his versatility and ability to play more than one position — he can play at both guard positions and also as a small forward — will help him fit in right away on the Huskies team next year.