A few days ago, I caught up with Jordan Hamilton, a former Longhorn (2009-10) now with the Denver Nuggets. We'll have a story in next week's Texan, but for now here's a few clips from our phone interview.
Daily Texan: How is this summer different than last, when you were entering your rookie season and locked out from organized team basketball activities?
Hamilton: I get hands-on treatment with the coaching staff now, and I get to work out here in Denver, Monday through Friday. I go home to Los Angeles every other weekend or so, but I'm here in the gym every day, shaping my body and trying to lose some weight -- I've gone from 238 to 220 and I'm trying to get to 215. And then basketball-related, just working on all aspects of my game.
DT: What was the hardest part about last season? [Note: Hamilton played in 26 of a possible 66 games, with two starts, averaging 4.4 points per game -- or 21.6 per 48 minutes].
Hamilton: It was a learning experience being around guys like Al Harrington and Andre Miller, and also the mid-level veterans who have been in the league four to five years. Coach [George Karl] played the guys who he believed in in the shortened season; played the guys he knew.
There was no training camp, we just got right into it, so [the rookies] didn't have much preparation time to show the coaching staff what we could do. The coaches knew who I was, obviously, but they weren't familiar with my game as well as they would have been if I was able to be there last summer.
DT: What was your welcome-to-the-NBA moment?
Hamilton: We're all playing pickup at Loyola Marymount [in California] and Kobe Bryant walks in. Kobe joins in -- and he was real good. I was guarding him some. You can play great defense on him and he'll still make shots over you.
DT: You left school after your sophomore season. Was it hard to watch the Longhorns?
Hamilton: There were times when I wished I could have helped them, times where I was like, 'Man, I miss Texas.' But once the season started, I kind of stopped watching college basketball because you're so busy -- either playing games or on a flight.
DT: Speaking of that season, there was a point where the lockout was still in effect but college basketball season had started. At any point did you think you made a mistake, or any point of regret?
Hamilton: Regrets, no, because I ended up with a great situation in Denver with the coaching staff and my teammates.
DT: Thoughts on J'Covan Brown leaving early and then going undrafted?
Hamilton: I didn't really get a chance to talk to him after the Draft, but I talked to him a few times once he declared. I know he went undrafted, but I think he has a great chance to make it. A team will see that he can play. We all know he can score and get to the rim, and shoot, but he's an underrated athlete.
DT: Do you think J'Covan projects as a point guard or a shooting guard?
Hamilton: I'd say point, just because of his size [6'1"]. I remember my freshman year, we were playing a closed scrimmage against Gonzaga. Coach [Rick Barnes] had him playing point and he made some really good plays, distributed the ball well. That was one of the first times I had seen him play and I was like, 'Okay, he's a good point guard, he'll get some playing time there.' But he never played too much of it in college.
DT: From briefly watching them play last year [20-14], what do you think the Longhorns need to better compete?
Hamilton: All the freshmen they had, now that those guys have got a year under their belts, they'll have a great shot at making some noise and fighting for a Big 12 title. They've got Myck Kabongo coming back, he's good. I really like Sheldon McClellan's game, too. He can shoot.
DT: You know, Sheldon keeps drawing comparisons to you.
Hamilton: [Laughs] Yeah, I think he'll have a really good shot to play in the NBA.