CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Moments after Concord (N.C.) Cannon School’s 74-68 loss on Tuesday, head coach Che Roth wasn’t the first person to talk to his team.
His sophomore star Jairus Hamilton, who finished with a game-high 26 points in front of Roy Williams and Wake Forest assistant Steve Woodberry, took control of the locker room.
A six-point loss to Charlotte (N.C.) Providence Day, one of the top teams in the country, wasn’t good enough. Anything less than victory, Hamilton felt, wasn’t good enough.
“I told Coach Williams, that he was the first kid to say something in there (locker room),” Roth said. “He was challenging his teammates. That’s what you want out of kids like him.”
“He’s a check all the boxes kind of kid,” explained Roth. “He can really play, he’s a great leader, he really wants to get better, he loves to be coached, he has exceptional integrity and character, and he’s a 3.6 (GPA) student.”
At 6-7, 210 pounds, Hamilton already has the look and physique of a college player. His tight handle and vision, maintained after growing nearly a foot since 2014, have caused the Cannon coaching staff to dub him a point forward. Hamilton’s game was influenced by his father Bill Hamilton, who played basketball at DePaul, as well as his brother, Jared, who is a freshman guard at Jacksonville State.
“I can bring the ball up the court, post up and get into the mid-range,” Hamilton said. “It’s really just being able to do everything for my team to help it win the game. (Tonight’s game) was an on and off game. Some points I looked good and some points I didn’t look so well.”
Added Roth: “He does a little bit of everything well. He’s really physical, he’s really athletic, he’s got a great body, super motor and I think his strength right now is getting to the rim. He’s really good off the bounce and at getting to his spot. He really plays within himself and doesn’t try to do too much.”
A strong summer with Team United – the same AAU squad that featured UNC junior center Kennedy Meeks and freshman forward Luke Maye – and standout performances at several camps brought Hamilton onto the national radar.
That interest only grew as schools began to watch workouts and practices at Cannon in the fall. He’s now receiving interest from Kansas, Kentucky, USC, South Carolina, Maryland and UNC, and he holds offers from Tennessee, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.
“(The attention) shows what kind of talent he has,” Roth said. “The nice thing about Jairus is he’s got such a great head on his shoulders that he’s building a relationship with everybody. When a Hall of Fame coach like Roy Williams takes time out of his life... he can be anywhere in the world and he came to watch him play, that’s pretty special.”
Tuesday’s game was Williams’s first in-person viewing.
“I know a lot about them (UNC),” Hamilton said. “I’ve gone up to visit the campus one time (Dec. 6 against Davidson) and I think I might go another time. He’s a great guy, great coach and I like all their assistant coaches and the players are all really good players.”