- Joel Francisco
ESPN 100 No. 25 Isaac Hamilton, the multiskilled combination guard out of Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco, shocked the recruiting world when he cast his lot with Tim Floyd and the UTEP Miners on Friday on ESPNU's "Signing Day Special." Most pundits thought he was headed to either UCLA or UNLV, but there is one critical aspect that can never be underestimated -- the rapport between coach and recruit.
Floyd had a distinct advantage over the other coaches because he already had built a bond with the Hamilton family in seasons past, dating back to the 1980s, when Floyd was an assistant coach at UTEP. Floyd recruited Isaac’s uncle Kevin Hamilton back then, and from there the seed was planted with the Hamilton family. Decades later that relationship was rekindled with Floyd’s recruitment of Isaac’s older brother Jordan while Floyd was at USC. Not surprisingly that previous connection would ultimately be the catalyst for Floyd landing Isaac.
“Coach Floyd is like family and he has done an outstanding job of developing guards over the years," Isaac Hamilton said. "It was the best fit for me.”
Hamilton is a rangy combo guard who can affect a game with his scoring and passing. Despite not having elite quickness and bounce, Hamilton does have a bevy of skill and savvy. His handle is crafty and sneaky quick, and he can convert buckets at all three levels. Pull-up 3-pointers, runners in the lane, floaters and slashing drives are the foundation of his scoring prowess. Although he is known as a scorer, he showed the ability to run an offense during his summer campaign, as he dropped off a number of nifty assists.
From the beginning, UTEP was seen as the dark horse candidate to lock up Hamilton’s services. The Miners had steep competition, considering their opponents were nationally acclaimed programs such as UCLA, UNLV, Baylor and San Diego State. However, the four aforementioned programs are pretty stacked out on the perimeter if you combine their current rosters with their November recruiting hauls. On the other hand, the Miners need significant help in the backcourt, and this is where Hamilton’s commitment fits like a glove.
Floyd and his staff are slowly but assuredly building a program. The young talent that is being stockpiled in the program is impressive. When you add bouncy 7-foot-1 freshman Matt Willms (redshirting), 6-foot-6 sophomore McKenzie Moore (offensively gifted), and the talented combo of brothers 6-foot-8 freshman Chris and 6-foot-7 sophomore Julian Washburn to Hamilton, the Miners will be making an NCAA tourney splash sooner rather than later.