by Vlad Ionasc
Last month, the Cheshire Phoenix confirmed the signing of highly-touted American center Eric Hamilton. I had the pleasure of interviewing Eric ahead of the 2020/21 season.
Hamilton enjoyed a storied college career which began in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) at Wichita State and culminated in the prestigious Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) at Pittsburgh. The 6’9 center also spent a year in the Southern Conference (SoCon) playing for the UNC Greensboro Spartans.
Phoenix’s new recruit had the pleasure of sharing the floor with guys like Fred VanVleet (Toronto Raptors guard) and Landry Shamet (Los Angeles Clippers guard) during his time at Wichita State. He also won the dunk contest in both of his seasons as a Shocker.
In his senior year at Pitt, he played 31 games (21 starts – career-high) and averaged 16.5 minutes per night (career-high).
I asked Eric about his thoughts on taking on an even bigger role in Cheshire, his aspirations for his rookie year, his favourite player growing up, and many more!
I was also curious as to whether he’d prefer to have Stephen Curry’s shooting or Kyrie Irving’s handles…his answer did not disappoint!
Eric, first of all, welcome to the Cheshire Phoenix! How excited are you to be part of the organization?
Very excited. Looking forward to getting to work, and improving from last season.
Have you had the chance to speak with your new teammates yet?
I have. Especially Devin Mitchell. He’s a very good friend of mine. I’ve known him for almost 10 years.
This will be your rookie year as a pro, so have you mapped out any personal targets yet?
Yes. To continue to improve every single day. Ensure I’m doing my part in every aspect of the game I can to ensure that we win every game that we possibly can. My goal is to win. Win every single day. Every practice. Every single game.
How was this summer like for you in terms of staying in shape and staying ready in case opportunities like playing for the Phoenix came about?
It was great. Nothing’s changed for me. I approach everyday the same way. So when my agent got the call, we were ready.
How much did you know about the BBL before you signed? What do you think of the league?
I definitely knew of the league. The league is the strongest it’s ever been. Especially talent wise, so I was definitely willing to play in the BBL because of it.
At 6’9 you’re a little undersized for the center position, how do you feel about competing against taller opponents?
Basketball isn’t really about positions today. So if coach is asking me to play the 4 or 5, It’s more of if you can guard a position and put the other person guarding you at a disadvantage and I know I bring that to the table with my strength, athleticism, quickness, and versatility.
Ben Thomas has been speaking very highly of you and has vowed to give you more minutes than you were getting in college. How does it feel to know that the head coach has that much confidence in you?
Good to know he believes in me so much already…I still believe in earning every minute and will approach every day that way. I’ll also have to ensure I’m in the best shape I can be in to handle high-level minutes, so it’s up to me as well.
You’ve played in some top conferences at the collegiate level, with the most notable one being the ACC, talk me through your experience at Pitt.
Didn’t finish like how we hoped, especially after the start we had to the first half of the season but it was a good experience for me. Enjoyed playing under Coach Jeff Capel at Pitt.
What did you learn while playing under coach Capel?
Learned a lot. Almost too many to mention lol. But he’s a great coach. Winner on, and off the court. His assistants and staff are amazing.
Let’s rewind to your freshman & sophomore years…during your time at Wichita State, you played with guys like Fred VanVleet and Landry Shamet. What were those guys like in college? Did you pick up anything from playing and being around them at the time?
Great friends of mine to this day…Landry and I came in the same year, so we taught each other things and just enjoyed our times there together…Fred was an older brother to me when I first got there when he was a senior. Taught me a lot: to be wise, how important winning was, to always be patient and relaxed, importance of family loyalty, and keeping your closest ones close to you to just name a few things.
You won the dunk contest twice at Wichita State. Can the fans expect some backboard shattering in-game dunks this season?
That’s what I’m expecting!
Which aspect of your game do you pride yourself most on?
Winning. Being a winner, and doing whatever it takes to win.
Which aspect of your game do you want to improve?
Being a more efficient ball handler, and 3 point shooter.
What did you study while playing basketball?
I studied economics. I love stocks, and business.
Who was your favorite player growing up?
Kobe, Melo, Durant. For sure..
East coast or West coast?
East Coast Hoops.
Who are you rooting for in the NBA bubble?
My boys Landry, Fred. Rocking with them till the end lol.
Favourite album right now?
Dark Lane Demo Tapes.
Would you rather have Curry’s shooting or Kyrie’s handles?
Curry’s shooting…you can keep all that extra dribbling. That doesn’t win games lol.
What is your favourite cuisine?
Who is your favourite teammate of all time?
Too many to name.. I’ve built so many special bonds
And finally, you obviously bring a winning pedigree to the club, so can the fans expect some silverware at the end of the season?
I sure as hell hope so. That’s why I’m signing. To improve and win.