Tommy Hamilton Jr. is 6'-9", 260 pounds. With that size, one would think he would dominate inside. But he is also a talented outside shooter. It took him awhile to realize the benefits of setting up shop down low.
"When I first came into high school, all I wanted to do was shoot. Now I try to establish myself in the post. I think I realized how big I am."
He is playing with the Mac Irvin Fire 16 and Under team in AAU ball this summer. He will get plenty of opportunity to refine his inside game as long as he is healthy enough to compete. His games at the Highland, Indiana, event last weekend were his first action since March.
"I strained my patella, and I had tendonitis. It was a severe case of tendonitis. Actually, it first came up the last part of Whitney Young, but it stayed around."
Hamilton has continued therapy to get himself back in shape.
"I've been going to a chiropractor to get treatment on it. They said it was due to how much I've been growing."
He says he is at about 90% effectiveness, but he can't wait any longer to get back into the game he loves.
"I'm not 100%, but I've got to play through it. I've just started working out again so I can play the month of July."
Hamilton, who has strong interest in Illinois at this time, played on Saturday in Highland. His team had to leave for Atlanta before the end of the tournament.
"We've got to go to Peach Jam."
His AAU schedule will keep him busy in July. After that, he can look forward to another successful season at Whitney Young. After winning two straight Illinois state championships, they lost in last year's finale to Chicago Simeon.
"Yeah, they were on a roll that night. Everything went their way. We were real tired, but that was no excuse. They just had a good day. They just played really hard.
Whitney Young lost its starting point guard Ahmad Starks to graduation. He will be be on scholarship at Oregon State this fall. But Hamilton is impressed with a young replacement.
"We miss a major guard in Ahmad. We have a young guy Derrick Randolph, he's an amazing guy. He's gonna step right in and play that position. We should be okay."
They will also miss shooting guard Anthony Johnson, a Purdue recruit. Again, the Dolphins have replacements waiting their turn in the limelight.
"We've got Sam Thompson and Luke Hager. They can shoot pretty good too. They're gonna be ready."
As rare as it is for a high school team to have a 6'-9" player, Whitney Young will now have two as Jahlil Okafor will be joining the team as an entering freshman. Okafor and Hamilton should make a dominating combination by the time they are upperclassmen.
"Okafor is a great young player. He's gonna help me out a lot. When he plays the post, I can go outside. When I'm in the post, he can shoot too. He can go outside a little bit."