Last fall Isaac Hamilton, one of the most highly sought-after prospects in the 2013 class, announced his decision to attend UTEP. A five-star prospect, Hamilton had the talent needed to make the Miners a dominant program in the new era of Conference USA.
But in July, Hamilton announced his desire to be released from the National Letter of Intent he signed that locked him in to attending UTEP. Head coach Tim Floyd refused the request, ultimately resulting in Hamilton and his family having to appeal the decision in front of the NLI committee. On Friday it was reported by Andy Katz of ESPN.com that the request for a waiver has been denied, meaning that Hamilton cannot play college basketball at another school this season.
Greg Hamilton said his son will now pursue finding a school, preferably a Pac-12 school in the Los Angeles area. He would attend academically but won’t be able to play this season.
“We will get him in school and enroll him,” said Greg Hamilton, who added Isaac has been at home during this process. “We know he’ll have several opportunities. We want it to be in the Pac-12 so his mother can see him play, since she is the primary caretaker for his grandmother.”
With Hamilton’s request to be release being denied, it’s once again time to ask why an elite prospect would sign the NLI to begin with. The majority of student-athletes need to do so in order to “lock in” their spot, because if they refused to do so the school would simply go about recruiting another prospect (and that can happen even if they do sign the NLI).
But for a player of Hamilton’s caliber, why not just sign the grant-in-aid (which is the document that has to be signed, with or without the NLI, in order to lock in the scholarship)? Do that, and if there were to be an issue (coaching change, family illness, etc.) it’s a lot easier to make a move. That isn’t the case when it comes to the NLI, as Hamilton and his family have come to find out.
So where will Isaac land? His father’s quotes in Katz’s story focus on the Pac-12 due to Isaac’s grandmother’s illness, and that may be the easiest move to make given the fact that many schools have already begun classes (schools on the quarter system likely won’t begin classes until later this month). And while Floyd left the door open for Isaac to change course and attend UTEP, that isn’t an option for the family according to Katz.
Wherever Hamilton lands, that school will have a player capable of being one of the nation’s best guards. But the fact of the matter is that this situation could have been avoided had he not signed the NLI.