Strengths: Isaac Hamilton’s malleable nature made him an ideal teammate, an ideal representative for why this UCLA team’s unselfishness made it so good, but he didn’t have a problem calling his own number when needed.
Isaac Hamilton epitomized UCLA’s rare unselfishness
Hamilton’s average dipped nearly three points from his junior year to 14.1 points per game as a senior, but he finished third in assists behind only point guards Lonzo Ball and Aaron Holiday on the team that averaged the most assists since UNLV set the Division-I record 26 years ago. The senior was an accomplished scorer who likely would have climbed into the top 10 on the school’s career scoring list had he played four years at UCLA.
Weaknesses: Hamilton wasn’t the target Bryce Alford was on the defensive end, but he was the Bruins’ second-weakest link on that end of the floor. His athleticism translated to him being a crafty scorer and a great shooter, but lateral movement wasn’t Hamilton’s forte. Consistent struggles to stay in front of his man forced UCLA’s back line to play help defense more often than the Bruins could handle, especially with two freshman in the front court who needed time to learn defensive rotations.
It’s hard to blame them. Bryce Alford tied the same record with nine 3-pointers in a game a week earlier. It’s probably just understood at this point that No. 3 UCLA is so special offensively, breaking records just comes with the territory.
Hamilton wasn’t one of the three players made available to the media after the game because the senior guard was getting stitches after suffering a lacerated tongue. But making 9 of 14 attempts from 3-point range and scoring a season-high 33 points had to mean a great deal to him after a recent shooting slump during which he made 4 of 34 attempts from beyond the arc range over a seven-game stretch.
Hamilton made 4 of 5 3-pointers a week ago, seemingly pulling out of the slump during a win at Colorado, where UCLA set a school record with 19 3-pointers. But Hamilton followed that with a 1-for-7 performance from beyond the arc in Saturday’s 83-82 win at Utah. He made 7 of 8 from 3-point range in Thursday’s first half alone, outscoring Arizona by himself, 25-21, by the time he made his seventh with 6:08 left in the first half.
“Obviously, he’s back,” Lonzo Ball said. “I like playing with him when he’s like that.”
Links to our coverage of the 102-80 win over Arizona State:
Would the UCLA basketball team still be undefeated if Isaac Hamilton’s shooting slump didn’t bottom out in Oregon? All the Bruins needed was three more points in the last-second loss to the Ducks Dec. 28 punctuated by Dillon Brooks’ 3-pointer.
Hamilton, the leading scorer 11 games into the season for the highest-scoring offense in the country outside The Citadel, had 2 points in Oregon. That’s one basket over two games – an 89-87 loss to Oregon and a 76-63 win over Oregon State – for the Pac-12’s top returning scorer from a season ago.
UCLA’s shooting guard has made 2 of 23 three-pointers over a five-game span and 1 of his last 16 field goals in the last two games combined.
It’s not like they’re toppling the best teams in the country (Wait for it…UCLA plays at No. 1 Kentucky on Saturday!) but these are major conference opponents that pushed the Bruins to provide answers to some significant questions. Most notably, could freshmen Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf answer the bell in close games? The answer is an unequivocal yes. Continue reading “UCLA basketball beefs up resume with major conference wins” »
Senior Isaac Hamilton, the Pac-12’s top returning scorer, is a stark contrast to the other member of UCLA’s backcourt named to a preseason award watch list.
How deep is the UCLA backcourt? Two guards have been named to preseason award watch lists – not including two returners who were starting guards last year.
Senior Isaac Hamilton, the top returning scorer in the Pac-12, was a natural choice for the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award watch list announced Tuesday. The buzz about freshman Lonzo Ball is only growing after he earned the distinction as a watch list candidate for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award.
To illustrate the depth in the UCLA backcourt, consider that Bryce Alford, who averaged seven tenths of a point less than Hamilton last season, is a certainty to be in the starting lineup when the season begins Nov. 11. As for Aaron Holiday, whose minutes are more difficult to project than the coach’s son, all he did was averaged double figures as a freshman last season and play the best on-ball defense of anybody on the roster. Continue reading “Hype grows for UCLA backcourt with 2 watch list candidates” »