The old saying is ABC: Always Be ‘Crootin’. Don’t let anyone tell you that Shaka Smart doesn’t adhere to that mantra when it comes to finding new Marquette. If you doubt that to be the case, well, Exhibit A has just been introduced to the court. On Tuesday evening, 6’10” big man Caedin Hamilton announced his commitment to Marquette.
Now, if you’re thinking “yes, well, it’s the first day of August, a commitment isn’t that odd, lots of guys commit in August because the signing day is in November.” Yes, you’re right, and based on information that we had before today, you’d be right. When Hamilton picked up a scholarship offer from Marquette on July 11th — TWENTY-ONE DAYS AGO — the understanding was that he was a Class of 2024 prospect.
That’s not the case.
As reported by Ben Steele of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, instead of going to Williston Northampton School in Massachusetts for a post-graduate year, the California native will be enrolling at Marquette immediately and join Al Amadou, Zaide Lowery, and Tre Norman in the Class of 2023. He will not, however, be going on the trip to Italy that starts on Thursday, because, y’know, it’s hard to make international travel arrangements in just two days.
It was the Williston connection that first drew Marquette’s eye to Hamilton, as it was his play at the NEPSAC Showcase for Williston that made them take notice. After that, according to Hamilton’s discussion with 247 Sports, Shaka Smart was his shadow.
“Coach Smart went to see me play in the first live period in July and then the last live period he was at every single one of my games. It meant a lot to have the head coach coming to watch every single one of my games because he could be watching so many other recruits. He was the only head coach to consistently be at all of my games.”
What was it about Marquette and his official visit this past weekend that sold Hamilton on the Golden Eagles?
“I talked with Coach Hatt and Coach Smart everyday and multiple times a day about not just basketball but about life,” Hamilton said on his decision. “They believe in me and my future and what I can become on and off the court. After the last few months I considered the coaching staff like family and that is very important to me.”
“The official visit was amazing,” Hamilton said. “I knew Marquette was the best program for me after meeting and hanging out with the players. They treated me like one of them from the moment I started my visit.”
Hamilton averaged 12.9 points, 10.3 rebounds, and nearly two blocks per game while earning All-Area Defensive Player of the Year honors from the Santa Maria Times in Santa Maria, California. That’s about a three hour drive north of Los Angeles right along the Pacific Ocean coastline. He took an official visit to Drexel earlier this summer, and had offers from Northeastern and UC Riverside, and for a guy from a nice Catholic school in a city of 100,000-ish people in the middle of California, that’s a weird list of schools, but not any less odd than deciding to skip prep school and jump right into the Big East.
Here’s some of what caught Shaka Smart’s eye when he was watching Hamilton play this summer.
Highlights of BTI Select’s Caedin Hamilton in the last @PRO16League live period in Omaha. The 6’10 big showed great hands, feet, and passing ability. He has a bright future @BTIHoops @CaedinHamilton pic.twitter.com/D0u8UwplVq— Coach Jauregui (@JeremyJauregui) July 25, 2023
Highlights of BTI Select’s Caedin Hamilton from last weekend in Houston at the @PRO16League Finals. The 6’10 big currently holds offers from UC Riverside, Drexel, Northeastern, and Marquette @BTIHoops @CaedinHamilton pic.twitter.com/ZrHjZB3vZm— Coach Jauregui (@JeremyJauregui) July 18, 2023
I can’t speak to the level of competition, but am I seeing some proto-Ighodaro in what Hamilton’s doing here? Yeah, I think that’s safe to say.
Let’s go to the brand new scholarship chart!
If you wanted evidence that Shaka Smart isn’t expecting to have one half of his point guard/center combo back for their COVID bonus season of eligibility in 2024-25, accepting a commitment from Hamilton tells you the situation. With the new addition, Marquette has one scholarship available for that year, and the return of Tyler Kolek or Oso Ighodaro will use a scholarship spot.
As for immediate impact? There’s a big difference between playing against the guys in the PRO 16 League and playing against Ryan Kalkbrenner and Donovan Clingan. Can Hamilton get on the floor immediately at all? Is this a situation where he’s going to treat his first year at Marquette like the year at Williston and just prep for a big time four year career after a redshirt year? If he’s already 240 pounds like MaxPreps says he is, I’m not 100% convinced that he needs to redshirt, but given his late addition to the roster, it might be the smartest thing.