Jordan Hamilton wants to tell his side of the story, once and for all.
Contrary to public opinion, the former Longhorn swingman does not blame Texas head coach Rick Barnes for him slipping to No. 26 in the NBA draft. And he certainly never told anybody that.
After he was picked by the Dallas Mavericks and then traded to Denver, it was reported that Hamilton blamed the slide down the draft on Texas head coach Rick Barnes for telling inquiring teams that Hamilton was "uncoachable."
Hamilton said that he never mentioned Barnes was to blame, and the entire discussion was taken out of context.
“I feel like I was misquoted with the whole conversation,” Hamilton said during a Tuesday phone interview. “I never said anything about coach Barnes.”
It was unwanted attention for a guy who had gone into the draft with such an even-keeled approach, even choosing not to watch the night’s drama unfold on television.
“I didn’t watch the draft, I was in the gym,” Hamilton said. “I wanted to go in there and clear my mind. I found out where I was going when my agent called me.”
In his post-draft statements about each of his three drafted players, Barnes noted special praise for Hamilton’s ability to adjust.
“I will always respect Jordan for the way he honestly sat down and evaluated himself following his freshman season here,” Barnes said. “He realized there was a lot he needed to learn. Jordan worked so hard at the game but more importantly, he grew as a person.”
Following an up-and-down first year at Texas, Hamilton made the leap from role player to star during his sophomore season. He led the Longhorns in scoring at 18.6 points a game — good for fourth in the conference — and his shot selection was notably improved compared to his freshman year, where he seemed a bit trigger-happy at times.
“When we think about Jordan from the time he arrived on campus as a freshman, he has really grown,” Barnes said.
At his basketball camp last Saturday, former Longhorn Kevin Durant, who has known Hamilton for a few years, showered him with praise.
“Jordan is such a mature guy; he knows how to handle stuff,” Durant said.
“He has great people around him.”
While his growth as a player and a person was visible on the court, Hamilton admits some NBA front offices still had character reservations.
“A lot of teams had questions on whether or not I was coachable,” he said. “I can be coachable, and once I get to the NBA, I can show that.”
After he was drafted, Hamilton had some time to tour his new city and get to know some members of the Nuggets organization — but not many because of the July 1 lockout.
“Two days after the draft, I flew to Denver and had a chance to talk to the coaches and general manager,” Hamilton said. “I worked out with Kenneth Faried and Chukwudiebere Maduabum for about three days with a trainer. But on June 30, we had to leave.”
Because he isn’t permitted access to any Denver facilities or allowed to have contact with any of the staff, Hamilton is spending his summer in Los Angeles, his hometown.
“I treat living out like here like I’m in college,” he said. “I’m working out, enjoying time with my family, not spending any money. I’m doing things a regular kid would do, except that I don’t have to go to school.”
A signing bonus won’t come until the lockout ends, but Hamilton expects to sign a shoe deal in the near future to provide some extra income, and his older brother, Gary, helps out with money he earns for playing overseas.
For those who weren’t fortunate enough to be drafted — such as Gary Johnson, Hamilton’s teammate at Texas — the lockout has put careers on hold.
“It is tough that there aren’t any summer leagues that he can play in,” Hamilton said. “But once the lockout ends, he can go to somebody’s camp.”
Hamilton realizes that, as a first-round draft pick, he’s one of the priveleged. He will start working out within the coming week, and looks forwards to his new start and new role with the Nuggets, a team known for offensive potency. His future is bright, but Hamilton, who led the Longhorns to 52 wins in two years, can’t help but to look back.
"I would like to thank you guys for all your support during my time at the University of Texas," he wrote in an open letter to the Texan fan base. "I had the best two years of my life being a Longhorn and will never forget the great times I had on and off the court."
Printed on 07/07/2011 as: Denver's Hamilton sets things straight