After winning the national title last season the UConn Huskies had some key losses to account for, most notably point guard Shabazz Napier. However the Huskies won’t lack for talent this season, especially on the perimeter, with senior Ryan Boatright leading a group with the skill needed to make life difficult on opponents.
One of those options is freshman Daniel Hamilton, who arrives in Storrs as one of the best freshmen in the country. Ranked 14th amongst Class of 2014 prospects by Rivals.com, the 6-foot-6 shooting guard has the ability to score from the perimeter or off the dribble, and he’s a solid distributor of the basketball as well. For many freshmen the adjustment to college can be a difficult one, especially when taking into consideration the fact that the Los Angeles native is more than 3,000 miles away from home.
But Hamilton’s senior season at St. John Bosco didn’t lack for tumult even with the team managing to win the CIF Division II state title. In a story written by Dave Borges of the New Haven Register, Hamilton discussed not only that tough senior season but also the camaraderie that this UConn squad has established even before the start of practice.
“He said, ‘Mom, I’ve been on different teams — travel ball, etc. — and I’ve never been on a team like this,” Karen [Hamilton] said. “It really is a brotherhood. There are really no gray lines. This is really a fraternity and a brotherhood. It’s pretty amazing.”
Said Daniel Hamilton: “We all love each other, we’ve got love for each other. I think that’s the main thing. And it’s going to translate on to the court.”
And after a most trying senior season at St. John Bosco High, that’s exactly what Daniel Hamilton needs.
Team chemistry was one of the areas that helped UConn hoist the program’s fourth national title in April, and with the leader (Napier) no longer in the fold one question to be answered is how this current group will account for that moving forward. Based upon Hamilton’s words the Huskies are off to a good start in that area, but more will be learned when the games begin and playing time (and touches) are up for grabs.
If Hamilton, junior college transfer Sam Cassell Jr. and NC State transfer Rodney Purvis (who was with the team last season but couldn’t play) fit in well and the underclassmen who were role players last season (including Terrence Samuel and Amida Brimah) can step forward, Kevin Ollie’s Huskies should be a fixture in the Top 25 all season long.
And as observed last season, anything is possible when a team gets hot during the season’s most important month.