Brian Hamilton: Taking The Next Step Towards His NBA Dream

by Matthew Brennan,

September 30, 2008:

Brian Hamilton led the NBA D-League in steals last season with the Utah Flash.
Juan Ocampo/NBAE/Getty Images
Brian Hamilton has come a long way in just one year.

Just last September, Hamilton was one of many hopefuls looking to earn a training camp invite at an open tryout with the Utah Flash. The 6-6 Hamilton not only earned that opportunity, but played his way onto the final roster and enjoyed a successful 2007-08 season in the NBA D-League. After playing in NBA Summer League, he received a call from the New Jersey Nets to attend their pre-season training camp.

"All I have to say is that hard work payed off," said Hamilton at the Nets practice facility after the team held a full scrimmage. "This was the whole point in me going to the D-League, to get here. I'm here right now and it's a blessing, but the hard work doesnt stop yet. It's been tough with the hard two-a-days, but the whole summer has been like that already. It's been pretty intense so far but I think it is going pretty well."

Making the Flash out of an open tryout, Hamilton appeared in 49 games last season and made 31 starts. He averaged 10.8 points and 5.6 rebounds, but made an impression on NBA scouts with his defense, leading the league with 3.2 steals per game and compiling a league-high total of 115 thefts. He racked up four or more steals in eight different games and helped the Flash limit opponents to 100.6 points per game, third best in the D-League.

The Nets brought Hamilton in early in the summer for workouts and he went to to play for their summer league team at the Rocky Mountain Revue. He was then signed to attend training camp in September as the Nets prepare for the 2008-09 NBA season and next week's preseason trip to NBA Europe Live. Hamilton feels that his ability on defense is what will help him earn a roster spot in the NBA.

"Defense, that's what I put an emphasis on in the D-League," said Hamilton. "I think I ended up pretty high in the league in steals, and they saw that. I can bring energy to the game and defense so that is what I plan to do here."

Hamilton isn't guaranteed a roster spot with the Nets, but he feels that his experience in the D-League where he had to earn every step of the way has prepared him for the same process on the NBA level. He enjoyed playing for the Utah Flash in their first season and is quick to credit the team for providing the best atmosphere for their players to succeed.

"For it to be a first year, it was great as far as basketball went, everything was top of the line," said Hamilton. "Our owner Brandt Andersen kept us with everything we needed, from gear to our practice facilities to traveling, everything was taken care of. We were close to the Utah Jazz, we used to go to their facility and practice a lot, so it was a good vibe up there."

Hamilton was an All-Sun-Belt Conference player at Lousiana-Lafayette, but was not selected in the 2005 NBA Draft. From the first step of attending the open tryout with the Utah Flash to matching up with the likes of Vince Carter and Devin Harris a year later, he is now one of many players who was able to use the D-League to showcase their ability to NBA scouts and take another step closer to their NBA dream.

"For me I would say, it depends on your situation, that the D-League would put you on the right track," said Hamilton in regards to getting the call from an NBA team. "It's not a guarantee, you still have to work hard. I couldn't really go overseas because they wanted to see how I could play, so the D-League definitely put me on the map."