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Mississippi State Hoops Signee Kimani Hamilton: How Does He Grade Out?

We got a chance to watch MSU signee Kimani Hamilton go to work in the Lighthouse Classic. Here's how things shook out.

Four-star recruit and Mississippi State men’s basketball signee Kimani Hamilton recorded a solid showing in the LightHouse Classic Thanksgiving basketball tournament in Corinth, Mississippi.

The Classic is one of the largest and most prestigious tournaments in the southeast year in and year out. Teams are invited based on the quality of their players, and Hamilton’s Clinton Arrows are no exception. They matched up with the Memphis East Mustangs, formerly coached by one Penny Hardaway, and a school that boasts an impressive alumni resume with names like James Wiseman.

Hamilton boasts all the physical tools of a D1 forward, standing at 6-foot-8 with immense length and athletic ability. He can put those tools to use, too, as he scored the first 8 points of the game for the arrows.

What stuck out to me most about Hamilton, though, was that he took over the primary ball-handling role for the Arrows, even while being blanketed by his defender. He showed off an impressive skill set, and created his own shot well, still managing to get shots up while being followed around the court like it was 1-on-5.

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The only knock on his offensive game is his shot form. He starts it around his knees, no matter where he catches it from. If he gets it off, the results are usually good, but getting it off at the next level will be a struggle. High major players keep one hand out at all times - if Hamilton wants to be a prolific scorer, he’ll have to work on where he starts his shot from. Other than that, it’s a great shot in terms of top-side motion.

The real question marks for Hamilton start on the defensive side of the floor. Memphis East may not have James Wiseman down low or Penny Hardaway calling the shots anymore, but they’re still a very talented squad. They ran the floor really well, and made no discrimination in who they went at off the dribble. Hamilton was on-ball several times throughout the game, and when he was, he performed well. Off the ball, though, Hamilton tended to loaf a little.

There were several instances in help where Hamilton could have been a little more, for lack of better phrasing, “on a hop.” Granted, this was one game, and after East began their box-and-one, the Mustangs’ lead grew a fair amount. There’s not really a point in risking an injury during a showcase tournament against an out-of-division opponent, especially if you’re already signed to a high major school, though so I would like to see Hamilton play in a closer matchup that meant more, just to see if the fire would be a little more stoked.

Hamilton still managed to finish with 14 points and 10 boards, leading his team in the latter category. East made it clear that Hamilton wasn’t going to be the one to beat them, and they followed through. Interestingly enough, when I asked Hamilton what part of his game he feels will transfer to the next level the best, he said it was his passing.

All in all, MSU has signed an impressive physical player with an equally impressive offensive skill set. He’s 6-foot-8 and a legit senior, so he could add another inch before he reaches campus. He’s wickedly athletic with kiss-the-rim bounce and, despite the hitch in his shot, shoots the ball under pressure at a highly effective clip. He has the ability and length to get separation and create his own shot, and his height and skill set could cause some matchup problems for opposing guards. I grade out Hamilton at a B+, with room for improvement if he can be as much of a defensive menace as he can be an offensive one.