Austin, Texas After everything went so wrong for the Texas last season, Jordan Hamilton apologized to his teammates.
While there was plenty of blame to go around after the Longhorns went from No. 1 at midseason to one-and-done in the NCAA Tournament, the freshman felt he’d been selfish with the ball.
“I was taking bad shots, not playing hard all the time, not understanding how hard you have to play on the college level,” Hamilton said.
Once the apologies were made, Hamilton not only settled into being a better teammate, he’s become the offensive leader on the Longhorns’ as they’ve ripped through the first half of the Big 12 schedule and made a surprising rise to No. 3 in the AP Top 25.
The more mature Hamilton is leading Texas in scoring (18.9 points), rebounding (7.6) and has become a better passer and defender. His 55 assists rank third on the team, just three behind guard Dogus Balbay. Defensively, he helped shut down No. 22 Texas A&M;’s leading scorer, Khris Middleton, the Aggies’ leading scorer, in last week’s 69-49 win.
Texas (20-3, 8-0) plays at Oklahoma (12-10, 4-4) tonight. When the teams met in Austin on Jan. 15, Hamilton made five three-pointers in a 20-point Texas victory.
At 6-foot-7, Hamilton is a tough matchup for smaller players on the perimeter and he’s big enough to muscle inside to post up defenders. Hamilton has been named Big 12 player of the week three times and will be a strong candidate for player of the year.
“Obviously we know he’s a great scorer, and he’s a guy that loves to shoot, loves to score,” Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said.
That love to score is part of what made things tough for Hamilton last season. When the bad shots started to fly and didn’t stop, Hamilton, his coaches and his teammates got frustrated.
After the season ended, Hamilton needed to have some heart-to-heart talks with his teammates.
“I think last year, people had the sense that he was a selfish guy,” senior forward Gary Johnson said. “He wanted to let it be known he’s far from that.”