“(Hamilton) is in the gym every single day,” said Saddi Washington, assistant Oakland basketball coach. “Whether it’s six o’clock in the morning or 11:00 at night, the kid is always in the gym. He hasn’t taken a day off since the season ended.”
The 2012 NCAA scoring champion has been preparing for the Portsmith Invitational Tournament in Portsmith, Va. on April 11 to 14 nonstop, where the best college basketball players from around the country are invited to showcase their talents for various pro scouts from the NBA and overseas.
The PIT has been a place of discovery for NBA legends like Dennis Rodman, Scottie Pippen and many others. Hamilton hopes to benefit from what PIT has provided for current stars in the past.
“I’m not nervous at all — I’m excited,” Hamilton said. “I’m ready to go out there and just play my game.”
Washington, who has played in the preseason camps of the Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets and Atlanta Hawks, said Hamilton just needs to stay hungry.
“Every level you go up, the defense and learning a new scheme is different,” Washing
Terry Foster, former Detroit Pistons beat writer and current co-host of the Valenti and Foster Radio Show on 97.1 The Ticket, said Hamilton’s play in the two years has caught his attention.ton said. “He’s going to have to take a different mindset. That’s probably going to be his biggest adjustment but he’s capable of doing that.”
“(Hamilton) has that ‘spark,’” Foster said. “He’s a guy where you don’t know what’s going to happen and that’s what is exciting about him.”
Even though the Internet has changed the way NBA teams have scouted and view midmajor players, the smaller school stigma might be still in the eyes of some scouts.
“The reality of where and maybe the level he’s coming from, there are those who are going to try to find every avenue to say no (to
Hamilton),” Washington said. “If you put (Hamilton) on the floor with a bunch of other players he’s going to find a way to get your attention. He just needs the opportunity.”
Washington said Hamilton’s ‘spark’ or competitive nature is his greatest asset right now, and that’s something he’ll need to relay to the scouts.
Hamilton hopes he can show NBA teams he has other qualities that aren’t measurable.
“I hope I can show them my heart,” Hamilton said. “A lot of them might see me as ‘short point-guard that may not be able to compete at the NBA level but I’ve seen (players like) Chris Paul, J.J Barea and Ty Lawson all be successful.”
Even early on his career at the high school level, Hamilton’s infectious work ethic has benefited others around him.
Especially this year, where he led a young Grizzlies team to the post season and their fourth consecutive 20-win season.
“Reggie took a young team and bridged the gap,” Greg Kampe, head men’s basketball coach, said “He allowed our young players to get better.”
Foster believes Hamilton will get his shot at the next level. An unnamed NBA source also said he is projected to be a late second round pick.
Outside of impression he tries to relay to other players, Hamilton’s two strong seasons at Oakland have proven his offensive prowess isn’t up for debate. Hamilton was first in the nation with a regular season average of 25.7 points per game, and fifth in post-season scoring of 30.3 ppg.
“Reggie can score the ball better than anyone I’ve ever seen,” Kampe said. “Being able to score like that is commodity in the NBA.
Somebody is going to want that. Offensively, no one questions his talent.”
Washington believes people seem to forget the role as a distributor this season. Hamilton tacked on five or more assists in 22 of 32 games this season. Even though Hamilton is a shorter guard at 5-foot-11, Washington and Foster both agree Hamilton is going to have to figure out how to translate his game to the next level and may take a season or two. Whether that means in NBA developmental league or overseas.
“I do think there’s a pretty good chance he’s get drafted,” Foster said. “If he has the right coaching and the right attitude, I think he can come back and contribute to the league.” Hamilton acknowledges his game will have to evolve to succeed in the NBA.
“I know I’ll have to get other people involved first, then be a capable scorer.” Hamilton said. “I have no problem with changing my role.”
With an important summer on the horizon, Hamilton is optimistic about the next step.
“A lot of people in the past wouldn’t think I would be in the shoes I am in today,” Hamilton said. “Just to prove to myself that I made a huge accomplishment (by getting a chance at the NBA level) and all the hard work and sacrifice paid off would be blessing.”