The American Athletic Conference has two players among the 50 on the watch list for the Naismith Trophy.
Daniel Hamilton is not one of the two.
The Atlanta Tipoff Club released its Early Season Watch List this week. There were few surprises on the list that featured some of the marquee names in the sport: Grayson Allen (Duke), Ben Simmons (LSU), Perry Ellis (Kansas), Buddy Hield (Oklahoma), Kris Dunn (Providence), among others.
Hamilton was left off the list, while SMU's Nic Moore and Tulsa's Shaquille Harrison are among the 50.
Most of the 50 names on that list belong, and Hamilton certainly should not be considered one of the favorites. Still, how does he not make the top 50, when a player like Mississippi State freshman Malik Newman gets the nod while averaging 11 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game?
Hamilton's numbers are fantastic this season. If the goal is to recognize the best players, players should be rewarded for all-around play, not just how many points they score. Hamilton is averaging close to a double-double this season: 12.6 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. He is also contributing 6.3 assists.
The sophomore from Los Angeles has scored in double figures five times in UConn's seven games. The one game he struggled in was a blowout win over Furman (six points, five rebounds, four assists). In UConn's opening game, he only scored seven points, but he was a triple-double threat with nine rebounds and nine assists.
As a freshman, Hamilton had five double-doubles. He already has three this year. He has been within three assists of a triple-double two times. Against Michigan, one more rebound and one more assist would have done the trick. Shabazz Napier is the only UConn player ever with two career triple-doubles. Hamilton could match that this year.
New Hampshire coach Bill Herrion compared him to Magic Johnson. Sacred Heart coach Anthony Latina compared him to Rudy Gay.
Is he quite at Gay's level yet? Probably not. Gay is one of the best in the NBA right now. Let's not even delve into the Johnson talk. That's comparing Hamilton to one of the best of all time. But Hamilton has been a workhorse for UConn this year. It's been suggested he would be on the list if UConn had not lost twice in the Bahamas. During those two losses—by a total of six points to Syracuse and Gonzaga, two of the nation's best teams—Hamilton still put up big numbers: 18 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists against Syracuse and 14/7/2 against Gonzaga.
Hamilton's all-around game was good last year. It's even better this year. He deserves to be recognized among the best players in the country – even if he is only the 50th-best player. He at least deserves the nod more than Newman.