Leonard Hamilton

Leonard Hamilton had a rough Tuesday


The most disappointed guy in all of college basketball right now?

Leonard Hamilton, the head coach of Florida State’s basketball team.


Well, let’s start with the obvious. He had seemingly hit the lottery. The best basketball prospect since Kevin Durant was the son of two former Florida State athletes, his father a former first round pick in the NBA and his mother a two-time Olympic silver medalist sprinter. The Canadian native watched his best friend, Xavier Rathan-Mayes, commit to the Seminoles. He not only didn’t want to deal with the spotlight of being a superstar athlete in this country, but he also happened to commit after Kentucky stockpiled enough talent to take a shot at an undefeated season even without Wiggins on campus.

It was the perfect storm.

And Florida State still whiffed, as Andrew Wiggins announced that he would be heading to Kansas for his one season of college basketball.

This wasn’t the first time that Hamilton came so close to a once-in-a-decade caliber recruit. As Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports artfully detailed on Monday afternoon, Hamilton was an assistant coach at Kentucky when Ralph Sampson was a senior in high school. He all-but established residency in Sampson’s hometown, and he thought he was going to pull Sampson out of Virginia and to Lexington.

Unfortunately, that didn’t work out, as Sampson ended up playing four seasons as a Cavalier.

That’s tough, but it gets worse.

You see, the guy that won the Wiggins Sweepstakes is Bill Self. Self’s first job as a coach was as an assistant at Oklahoma State. The guy that hired him?

Leonard Hamilton. Here’s the story:

Leonard Hamilton was coaching at Oklahoma State then, and Self interviewed for an assistant’s job. Self was a former Oklahoma State player, so he thought he might have an inside line at the job. But during the interview, he noticed that Hamilton did not seem especially moved by anything he was saying. He actually looked kind of bored. Self has always had a gift for reading people.

“I’ll tell you what, Coach,” Self said. “If you hire me, I’ll get you a point guard for next year and you won’t even have to give up a scholarship.”

“You’ll get me a point guard?” Hamilton asked.


“And I won’t have to give up a scholarship?” Hamilton asked.


Hamilton agreed to the strange deal. And sure enough, a player named Jay Davis just showed up, out of nowhere, as a walk on. He was instantly the best point guard on the team. He had double the assists of anyone else, he led the team in steals, he played 32.4 minutes a game. The team was terrible, but Self was on the bench coaching.

Who was Jay Davis? Yep, he was Bill Self’s best friend. He had been a terrific high school basketball player but he had a lot more interest in living the college life than playing ball. “You’ve got to play on the team,” Self told him. Davis declined.

“You’ve GOT to play on the team,” Self told him. Davis declined again.

“YOU’VE GOT TO PLAY ON THE TEAM,” Self told him. Davis played on the team. He, better than anyone, knew that he wasn’t going to beat Bill Self at this game. Later, Davis was the best man at Self’s wedding, and vice versa.’


Now instead of being an ACC contender, the Seminoles look like they may be headed for the NIT again.

Double ouch.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

No. 14 Cal goes 0-2 in Las Vegas Invitational

Jaylen Brown
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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After midnight on the east coast on Thanksgiving, No. 14 Cal blew a 15 point second half lead against San Diego State, allowing the Aztecs to use a 30-6 run to put away the game and advance to the final of the Las Vegas Invitational. That’s the same San Diego State team had scored 43 points in a loss to Arkansas-Little Rock last week.

Not 24 hours later, the Golden Bears were shredded defensively by the Richmond Spiders, losing 94-90 in the consolation game of a four-team tournament they were considered to be the heavy favorite in.

It’s a disappointing two-game stretch for Cal, who entered the season as a Pac-12 favorite and had looked the part for the first four games of the season.

And the issue appears to be on the defensive end of the floor.

Richmond is a good Atlantic 10 team. Terry Allen and Marshall Wood are high-major big men, Shawn’Dre Jones is a jitterbug at the point and Chris Mooney runs a Princeton-esque system that is very difficult to prepare for without a day in-between games. So it’s not really surprising that the Spiders gave Cal a fight.

But 94 points?

On the heels of giving up 44 points in the second half against the offensively-challenged Aztecs?

That’s a problem, one that I’m sure that Cuonzo Martin is going to address this week in practice. Martin has managed to put together a roster that is build for small-ball, with four talented perimeter players surrounding a first round pick in the post. But that’s not the style that he’s known for. Martin played his college ball at Purdue in the Gene Keady days. He cut his teeth as a head coach at Missouri State in the Missouri Valley. His team’s at Tennessee were known for being tough and physical defensively.

That’s how Martin coaches, which is part of the reason Cal had such hype entering the year.

The talents of Tyrone Wallace, Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews on a team with a coach that gets teams to defend the way Martin does? It’s no surprise that pundits would be optimistic.

But as of now, they have some work to do defensively if they want to live up to that hype.

Tyler Ulis injured as No. 1 Kentucky beats South Florida

Tyler Ulis, Ky Howard
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MIAMI (AP) Jamal Murray had 21 points and No. 1 Kentucky scored the final 15 points of the first half on the way to beating South Florida 84-63 in the HoopHall Miami Invitational on Friday.

Skal Labissiere added 17 points for the Wildcats (6-0), who led by as many as 31. Charles Matthews scored 11 points and Isaiah Briscoe finished with seven assists for Kentucky, now a winner of 37 consecutive regular-season games and 39 in a row against unranked opponents.

Chris Perry scored 14 points for USF (1-5), which has lost 18 consecutive games against teams ranked in the Top 25. Jaleel Cousins added 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting, and Jahmal McMurray scored 11 points for the Bulls.

Kentucky played the second half without starting guard Tyler Ulis, who departed with a right elbow injury after getting hurt while fighting for a ball loose on the floor.

Kentucky announced after the game that the injury was a hyperextension of the elbow and that he will be day-to-day.

The Bulls were within 27-21 with 6 minutes left in the first half after McMurray banked in a 3-pointer only a few feet away from where John Calipari was standing, and the look of anguish on the Kentucky coach’s face was clear.

It didn’t last long.

The Wildcats scored on seven of their next nine possessions and the game was over by halftime, Kentucky going into the break with a 42-21 lead.

It was a reunion for plenty of people on both benches. Calipari squared off with his former assistant Orlando Antigua, now in his second year leading USF. Antigua’s staff includes another former Calipari assistant in Rod Strickland, plus former Kentucky basketball staff members Mike Malone and Dominic Lombardi.

So the staffs have plenty of familiarity. On the court, there was plenty of disparity. Kentucky finished with a commanding 23-6 edge in points off turnovers and finished with 16 assists to the Bulls’ six.