Friday, Nov. 16, 2012 | 5:18 p.m.
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Wearing a baby blue Lacoste sweater and a gold bow tie, five-star guard Isaac Hamilton appeared headed for his hometown UCLA Bruins. That was just a coincidence, though, because Friday night Hamilton went on a nationally televised special and chose UTEP over UNLV and UCLA, among others.
“Next year I will be attending the University of Texas-El Paso, coach Tim Floyd,” Hamilton said.
In addition to those three schools, Hamilton was also considering Baylor and San Diego State. He took official visits to all but San Diego State, visiting UCLA the first weekend in November and spending last weekend in Las Vegas, even staying for the season opener against NAU.
Standing at the end of the tunnel where the Rebels enter the Thomas & Mack Center on game nights, Hamilton said he definitely wouldn’t make a decision in November. Less than a week later he went on TV to pick his school in front of a national audience.
Hamilton, who’s about 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, is one of the best scorers in the class of 2013, though he wants to play point guard in college to prepare him for the next level. He felt Floyd, the former Chicago Bulls coach, offered the best chance to do that.
“A lot of people don’t know this but Tim Floyd’s been a close friend to the family,” Hamilton said. “He coached my uncle at UTEP and was real good friends with my grandmother. … I just felt I should go with somebody that I trust and feel and basically that I know.”
Floyd recruited Hamilton’s older brother, Jordan, when the former was at USC. Jordan ended up playing at Texas and is now in his second season with the Denver Nuggets while Floyd returned to UTEP after resigning from USC following a controversy involving alleged money given to USC’s O.J. Mayo. The Trojans eventually vacated their 21 victories form the 2007-08 season and were ineligible for the Pac-10 and NCAA tournaments in 2009-10.
Floyd was originally an assistant at UTEP from 1977-86. With Isaac in the fold UTEP is now the front-runner for younger brother Daniel, a four-star forward in the class of 2014. The brothers said they weren’t guaranteed to be a package deal but it’s likely Daniel will follow his brother to El Paso.
Though UCLA missed out on Hamilton it did get huge news about a half an hour before Hamilton’s decision, with the NCAA reinstating former Bishop Gorman star Shabazz Muhammad. He must repay approximately $1,600 in impermissible benefits and will play Monday night in New Jersey against Georgetown.
And as for UNLV, the Rebels already received two letters of intent in the early signing period — Findlay Prep forward Christian Wood and juco transfer Jelan Kendrick — and they also welcome in guard Dantley Walker next season after Walker finishes his two-year Mormon mission.
The Rebels still have interest from a few top recruits in the class of 2013, most notably five-star New Jersey power forward Jermaine Lawrence, who has UNLV in his final four with St. John’s, Cincinnati and Syracuse. Lawrence said he’ll sign in the spring, though that’s what Hamilton said, too, before changing his mind. Recruits have until next Wednesday to commit and sign letters of intent during the early signing period.
And what about Hamilton’s head fake with the UCLA colors? That’s just what can happen when a non-sports fan does your shopping.
“My sister’s friend tried to go shopping for me so she bought all this stuff,” Hamilton said. “She thought it looked nice.”