Very few families can boast athletic excellence on a par with clan Hamilton. Miami enjoyed the services of Gary a few years back, while Jordan starred at Texas before making his way to the NBA. And now 2013 prep All-American Isaac will be a freshman at … err, well, that remains to be seen.
But obviously, Daniel has big shoes to fill. This isn't just a college-worthy basketball family; it's a talent factory that has sent four boys toward realistic careers in hoops. Very, very few can say the same.
Despite his bloodlines, however, Daniel received only moderate attention early. That delayed reaction was understandable, given that he needed time to develop physically. He didn't crack the code here at Scout.com until 2012, a relatively late point for someone who now ranks No. 19 in the Class of 2014.
A growth spurt during his sophomore year set the stage. He sprouted to 6-7 and converted from a medium-sized guard into a very tall wing forward. He performed inconsistently during the 2012 travel circuit, however, struggling to maintain his balance against older and much stronger players.
He finally began to click into place last winter. By the new year, Hamilton had begun to knock in shots and bring big-time colleges into his recruitment. Louisville, Kansas, USC, Baylor and others were on the case, with many more programs watching him intently.
He displayed a visible athleticism increase this past spring. His improved physical attributes led to increased production, and that's when UConn swooped in to close the show. The Huskies made him a top priority and beat out a host of West Coast schools, some that had been knocked askew by coaching changes. For once, someone else's turbulence worked to Connecticut's advantage.
Hamilton proved worthy of the scholarship this summer. He scored 32 points in an epic encounter with Emmanuel Mudiay and Malik Newman in Las Vegas, punctuating a 12-month arc that now casts him among the country's best seniors.
Outstanding size and length offer a great way to open this section. Hamilton is tremendously tall and long for a wing, and he gets the most out of that reach and wingspan. He's potentially a terrific scorer, rebounder and defender in part because he'll usually be able to do things over the other guy — simply a huge advantage in basketball.
He's also quite athletic. Hamilton may not be dazzling leaper, but he's a very good one who possesses legitimate wing quickness for a 6-4 player, much less one who's 6-7. He blows past opponents and then utilizes his length to finish with great accuracy in traffic, taking contact far better than he did previously and demonstrating clever impromptu abilities when challenged by shotblockers.
And when he's cooking, Hamilton also can erupt for points via his jump shot. He has easy three-point range and the kind of smooth stroke that suggests he'll become more consistent over time. He's very fond of the corners and appears to relish catch-and-shoot opportunities. Down the road, he should be able to achieve admirable balance.
As a defender, his ranginess should pay off big. He needs to enhance his concentration and technique, but major tools are present.
His body still lags behind. That isn't a huge concern because he grew so late, but Hamilton likely won't ever be a powerhouse and thus will be vulnerable to certain matchups.
Meanwhile, he must improve his mental side of the game. Hamilton at times makes questionable choices both as a shooter and a passer, forcing action that isn't there or surprisingly missing opportunities that lay directly ahead of him. He sometimes resembles a kid shooting in his driveway more than he does someone who has mastered the five-on-five concept, and some bumps along the way should be expected while he adjusts to more structured settings.
Along with that, he remains prone to streaky shooting and must continue focusing on reputations in order to become more efficient.
Being jumbo sized for your position is good. Being able to create your own shot is very good. Those two qualities are what place Hamilton within the national top 20. It's very difficult to find players about whom those two statements are true in concert, and Hamilton therefore projects as a big-time weapon for the Huskies and professionally.
From UConn's perspective, the question is how far they can take him in terms of experience before he exits for the NBA draft. Will he achieve anything close to his maximum output in Storrs, or will that have to wait a few years?