Drafted by Heat, LSU’s Hamilton seeks to make strong impression
By scott hotard
July 15, 2012
“I’m just looking at it like I’m a walk-on player (in college) and I have to earn my scholarship on the team.” JUSTIN HAMILTON, former LSU center
A day after receiving a call from Miami Heat President Pat Riley welcoming him to the organization, former LSU center Justin Hamilton wasn’t ready to make a LeBron-like proclamation that he was “taking my talents to South Beach.”
Hamilton said being selected in the second round of the NBA draft Thursday was merely the first step in what figures to be an uphill journey.
Unlike first-round picks, players chosen in the second round are not guaranteed a pro contract.
“Now is when the real hard work really comes into play,” Hamilton said. “I’m just looking at it like I’m a walk-on player (in college) and I have to earn my scholarship on the team.”
If he makes the right kind of impression, Hamilton, 7 feet, 260 pounds, will have a chance to help Miami defend the world title LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh & Co. won earlier this month.
Hamilton was taken by the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday with the 45th overall draft choice, then traded to the Heat along with a future first-rounder in exchange for Mississippi State forward Arnette Moultrie, who was taken by the Heat at No. 27 in the first round.
A couple of picks before the 76ers made their selection, Hamilton said he got a heads-up when his agent called and told him the Heat planned to make a move. Several minutes later, he and members of his family watching ESPN at home in Utah began to celebrate.
“It was awesome,” Hamilton said. “The initial reaction was really just shock from seeing my name up there and everything.”
Not long after, Hamilton said he received the call from Riley, who told him, “We’re glad to have you. We think you’re going to fit in great with your work ethic.”
Hamilton, who earned second-team All-Southeastern Conference honors after averaging 12.9 points and 7.2 rebounds as a junior, became the first LSU player drafted since Marcus Thornton went with the 43rd pick in 2009.
Thornton is the kind of player anyone taken in the mid-40s would look to for inspiration. He started 51 of 66 games for the Sacramento Kings last season, averaging 18.7 points in his fourth NBA season.
But Hamilton said he knows he will have to play well in the NBA’s Summer League in order to earn a spot on the Heat roster.
“I’ve got to do everything I can to show I can help them win this year,” Hamilton said. “That’s what I have to do.”
Hamilton played his first two college seasons at Iowa State.
He left LSU with one year of eligibility remaining.