The UConn Huskies have a lengthy history of players being picked early in the NBA Draft. In 2016, one player has a chance but the draft analysis community is not very optimistic about his chances.
Daniel Hamilton’s journey has certainly been interesting so far. When he first declared, conventional wisdom suggested he would exercise his options under new rules for early entrants by participating in the pre-draft process and then making a final decision after gaining feedback. Yet, nearly six weeks before the deadline to remove your name, Hamilton announced he was hiring an agent and ending his collegiate career.
“I believe in what I'm capable of.” Hamilton told reporters after working out for the Phoenix Suns on May 20th. “No matter what people say about me, I'll always feel confident in what I'm capable of doing."
Many criticized Hamilton’s decision to forgo his two remaining years of eligibility, especially after a lackluster performance at the NBA Combine.
The Los Angeles native is coming off a season where he averaged about 12 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists per contest. Besides Hamilton, only Ben Simmons recorded at least 450 points, 300 rebounds, and 150 assists last season.
Despite posting solid numbers and possessing great potential, Hamilton has received little confidence in mock drafts. Both CBS Sports and DraftExpress have him going undrafted. NBADraft.net has him going 50th overall to Indiana. Yahoo’s The Vertical doesn’t have him listed on their first-round mock.
Although many have portrayed Hamilton’s situation negatively, it seems NBA executives are not as skeptical. One NBA executive with Western Conference ties recently told the Hartford Courant he believes Hamilton will be selected, and he wouldn’t be surprised if he went in the first round.
"You can see the potential there," the executive said. "He did not play well at the combines, and you wouldn't find one [evaluator] that wouldn't tell you he would have been better off going back to school for another year. He was trying too hard, the strength issue — he needs to get bigger and stronger and he was trying to do things his body wouldn't let him do because he's not strong enough yet.”
But Hamilton still possesses a lot of potential, and has a diverse skillset. Many surprises happen late in the first round, and Hamilton would be far from a reach at that point despite what mock drafts are saying. So far Hamilton has worked out for the Lakers, Clippers, Suns, 76ers, Hornets, Raptors, Bucks, Bulls, Mavericks and Rockets.
Three other former Huskies have been active in their pursuit of living their NBA dreams, or at least playing basketball professionally.
Ryan Boatright worked out for the Minnesota Timberwolves last week. After signing with the Brooklyn Nets last season, Boatright ended up with the Pistons’ D-League affiliate. He ended up asking for his release to play pro ball in Italy for Capo D'Orlando, where he averaged 19.2 points, 2.5 assists, 1.6 steals this past season in Sicily.
Recent graduate transfers Sterling Gibbs and Shonn Miller have also been pushing for a shot in the NBA. The Washington Wizards recently asked Sterling Gibbs to come in for a second workout. Gibbs also was looked at by the New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns. Miller participated in a NBA pre-draft workout with the Sacramento Kings last Thursday.
Hopefully Boatright, Gibbs, and Miller succeed in their pursuit of signing with the a NBA team after the draft and have a chance to prove themselves in summer leagues. As for Hamilton, his fate will be determined this Thursday as the NBA Draft kicks off at 7:30 p.m.