The Quakers have had a rough six months: after completing their third straight losing season, they fired Coach Jerome Allen and replaced him with Steve Donahue. However, the future looks a bit brighter due to an incoming freshman class that they hope will restore the proud tradition of Penn basketball. CHD’s Jon Teitel recently got to chat with Penn recruit Tyler Hamilton about why he chose the Quakers and what he knows about his new coach.
You grew up in Georgia: how did you end up at prep school in Connecticut? I used to live overseas with my father when he played basketball all over the world. I have always been one of the youngest in my grade and I wanted to get an Ivy League education, so I wanted to attend a prep school in the Northeast.
1 of your teammates was Ray Jerome: how do you think he is going to do on the U20 Puerto Rican National Team? He is honestly 1 of the most athletic players I have ever been around. He has a high basketball IQ and a great shot.
What other schools were on your short list, and what made you choose Penn? The only solid offer I had at the time was from Sacred Heart, with some other interest from Cornell and Tulane, but once I talked to Penn I was so certain that it was the right choice that I committed 12 hours later.
Did the firing of Jerome Allen give you any second thoughts? No: I was talking with all my fellow recruits and we all wanted to play on the same team, which is why we are looking forward to coming to Penn. Coach Allen is still in Philly and said he will continue to support us: it just felt like home.
What do you know about new coach Steve Donahue? I know he was at Penn before and also coached at Cornell and Boston College. I have only heard great things about him and I think he is the best coach for my playing style: I cannot wait to get to campus!
You played guard in high school: what position will you feel most comfortable at in college? I will play wherever I can get the most playing time. People tell me that point guard is my most natural position because I am a pass-frst player, but due to my height I might end up at shooting guard.
Which of your fellow incoming Penn recruits are you closest to? The two I have talked to the most are Jake Silpe and Max Rothschild, and I will be rooming with Morris Esformes. We all have a tight-knit relationship.
Four of Penn’s top-8 scorers last year were freshmen: does that encourage you that players can come in and get minutes right away, or does it discourage you because there are four guys who are going to be competing with you for minutes during the next three years? I do not see anything wrong with it: the more people who can contribute, the better. A whole team effort is the key to winning games, and with a new coach there is nobody who is guaranteed to get minutes.
The Quakers were in the bottom-10 in the nation in field goals, rebounds, and points: which of these areas do you think you can help fix the most? I consider myself to be an all-around player. Due to my athleticism I think I can help most with defense and rebounding, but I also have a good mid-range shot.
Harvard has made the NCAA tourney in each of the past 4 years: what will it take to knock off the champs? Every night is an all-out battle and anyone can come out with a win. I know a couple of players on Harvard but everyone in the league is talented so the key is who wants it more and who worked harder to get there.