Rob Harrington/Inside Carolina

2018's Hamilton Breaks Down Duke Visit

One of the invited visitors for the rivalry game against North Carolina this season was in-state power forward Jairus Hamilton.  Already holding a number of high major offers, Hamilton has also begun fielding interest with Duke.  We spoke with him about that, his visit, and more.

Was this your first time visiting Duke for a game?  Who accompanied you on the trip?

Jairus Hamilton: My family, couple family friends, my coach and some teammates too. It was cool and it was everybody’s first time. It was a really great experience, we all loved it. We got to see the facilities and the school and it was a really beautiful school. It was a great atmosphere there. We showed up around 5:30 and got settled in.

What was the schedule like before the game?

We got there and we went to a players lounge and relaxed for a little while, watched some TV. Then we got to meet with some of the coaches and then we went around and toured the facilities and we saw all the fans out there. Then we got to watch the game and then we got to talk with the coaches again after the game.

Which coaches did you get to meet with before the game and after the game?

Before the game we met with Coach Capel and Nolan Smith. That was my first time ever speaking with them. They were asking me how everything went this year and what kind of things I was doing with workouts and who I was looking at to play AAU with. I know some of the other Duke coaches have been calling my coach, but I’m not sure which were calling. 

What kind of questions did you guys have for the Duke staff during your meetings?

We didn’t really have any questions. We were really just glad to be there and to get a chance to go see a really great game like that.

Was this visit setup with you guys at the request of the Duke staff?

The coaches had actually invited us to come, they wanted to us to come up for the game. 

How far back would you say Duke’s interest goes with you from what your coach or family has shared with you?

It probably goes back to maybe December or January. My coach told me that they are really interested and they wanted to get me up to come watch them play and to maybe have some workouts at my school too and to come see me play in a game. I haven’t seen them yet at a game. I’ve talked to them a couple of times like when my coach is around, but I’ve never called them myself. 

Is Duke a program you watched growing up?

I’ve always been watching them because they have always been a big school in the area, so I’ve grown up watching them. 

What are your thoughts so far on their style of play and the players they have had?

I liked the style of play they have had and in this game, they had a little uptempo going, I like the way that they coach and the players they have. 

Which other programs have you made a point to follow as your recruitment begins?

I’ve always liked watching North Carolina of course, they’ve been a really good team this year. Also I like seeing teams like Michigan State play and Xavier and Kansas, I like watching those teams because they have a great style of play and great coaches. 

How would you describe your game?

I’m really like an oversized guard to be honest with you. I can bring the ball up the court, I play mostly on the wing but sometimes I can go down low if I need to score or get a rebound. I’m kinda like a point forward in high school and in college, I probably see myself playing mainly between the 1 to the 3 but mostly the 2 and the 3. 

Do you have any recent measurements for your height and weight and wingspan?

I’m about 6-foot-8 and I weigh about 216, but I don’t know what my wingspan is right now.

So with you having watched both North Carolina and Duke growing up, what was it like being able to attend a rivalry game between the two?

It was really exciting to see. I liked how they were always answering back and back to each other, it was really competitive and you could tell that both teams really wanted to get the win. I liked how both of them played really tough and I liked the players that they had on their teams. i was looking at their guards for sure because I wanted to see how I would fit with how they play their guards and wings in each system. 

In your opinion—did you notice a big difference between how the guards and wings played for each team?

No not really. I could see that both of them were really free with how they ran the offense on the wings. I could see that if you got the ball either on the wing or on the break you could really push it and they would both have ball screens for their wings and guards. 

With this being your first time at Cameron Indoor Stadium, what were your initial impressions?

It was really great, really exciting and they were really loud and into the game, that’s the type of place I like to play in. Even though they lost, they were still thanking me after the game for coming out, you could tell that the fans really care about the school. I could tell that they made me feel like I was a priority.

Did the experience of Cameron meet or exceed your expectations now that your first visit is complete?

I think that it did really meet my expectations. I expected it to be a really great game and great atmosphere, and that’s what I got from the game. 

When you had a chance to sit down with the coaches after the game, what was discussed?

It was with all of the coaches there, it was great, it was great to meet all of them and I respect how they still gave me some time even after they had lost and hopefully getting a chance to meet with them again very soon. I think we might schedule a workout so they can come watch me workout and I know they will see me play throughout the AAU season.

We had a really quick conversation after the game, we were mainly talking about how they were trying to get things turned around before the Tournament starts. 

Has the discussion with the Duke staff ever included any thoughts from them on the possibility of a scholarship offer in the future?

No, not really. We’re starting to build a good relationship with them and hopefully that will come in the future. This visit we were looking to have a good time on the visit and also maybe ask some questions and we got a couple of questions answered which was good. My parents and coaches thought it was a great time and the coaches and the program and the school were all really great. 

Did you talk much with the Duke players while you were there?

Yeah I got to talk with a couple of players, they were really cool. I also got to meet with Jahlil Okafor, he played last year and won a national championship with them. He was really cool and it was cool that he talked with me for a little bit. He was in the players lounge after the game was over, we were talking about like my age and what position I play and where I go to school, stuff like that. I wished him good luck with the rest of the NBA season. 

Do you have any other visits or next steps planned out in the process?

I think my next steps are working on getting a workout setup so Duke can come see me play. That’s the next step.

Which programs do you know at this point have extended a firm scholarship offer to you?

I have scholarships from UNC, Virginia Tech, Tennessee and Wake Forest right now. It means a lot that they have appreciated the hard work I’ve put in and that they appreciate my game and who I am as a person as well. I’m just going to keep working hard on improving my game so I can be the best player I can be. 

How big will those early offers be when you progress in your recruiting process and start thinking about cutting down the list and making a decision?

I don’t think it’ll be a major factor, really it’ll be about who shows the most interest in me as a player and as a student really. Who really wants me the most as a player is what’s going to matter the most to me and what my family and coaches think of them. 

Do you see yourself wanting to make an early decision?

I feel like I don’t want to end it too early because you never know what can happen, but I also don’t want to wait until the end if you know what I mean. I think in the middle is what I’ll look at to figure out my decision. Like I’m a sophomore now, I’ll probably wait until into my junior year before I decide.

Are there any programs that you would really like to have a scholarship offer to consider from before the end of your process?

I don’t really have anything like that because I don’t have any favorites with that. I just want to see who comes to me and how I feel about them and how I feel about the school. It’s not like I go out looking for certain offers, I don’t look at it like that. I just want to see who comes to me and then choose the right fit for me. 

When you think fit in college, do you think you lean more towards a program who wants you to be a true 2-guard in their system?  Or are you looking to play more wing?

Probably I’d want to be, I’m not sure, that would be a big factor. I’d probably be more interested in playing the two guard than the wing spot when I play, but that won’t be the only factor in the decision. It’ll also be a lot about what my family thinks of the program, what school would I fit in with, stuff like that.

Is distance a big factor for you and your family with your final decision?

Yeah that will probably be a big factor, I’m not trying to be too far from my family and my home. 

Are you looking for a four year career in college?

Really it depends on how I play in college. I might be able to play one year and move on or I might play for a couple years in college and then move on and pursue my dream. It doesn’t matter to me who I come in with and I know I would have to work hard to become that main guy if that’s what I want. I could go to a small school or big school, I’m still going to work hard. 


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