STORRS—Richard Hamilton often wears a gold necklace featuring a pendant with a ball above a basket.
``Is the ball in or out? Oh, that's easy. It's going down,'' he said.
``When Ray Allen first came here, he had tremendous physical ability to play the game; and when Doron Sheffer first came here, he had a tremendous mind to play,'' coach Jim Calhoun said. ``Richard has that combination of ability and mental preparation.''
That's high praise for a young man who will play his first college game Friday night against Indiana. It also may be merited. Hamilton was a McDonald's All-American at Coatesville (Pa.) High, where he averaged 23.8 points and 14 rebounds. He was the 17th-ranked high school senior by recruiting analyst Bob Gibbons.
Hamilton is the highest-ranked scholastic player to attend UConn since Donyell Marshall, who was a consensus top-10 pick in 1991.
Hamilton excels in the open court with his quickness and scoring ability. Defenders can't pause because of his first step. Because of his ball-handling, jumping ability and perimeter shooting, he can play either guard position or small forward. He has played most of the preseason at shooting guard.
The Huskies need a productive Hamilton along with five other first-year players after losing four starters from their 32-3 team last season.
Hamilton had nine turnovers in the Blue-White scrimmage Nov. 3.
``I need to improve my lateral quickness, handle better, and learn where to be and anticipate passes better,'' he said. ``My jumper is inconsistent too.''
Seeing Hamilton burst down the lane or hang in the air to hit a shot and draw a foul may create some preliminary comparisons to Allen.
``No, no. I'm no Ray Allen. He's in the league [NBA],'' Hamilton said. ``I'm just a freshman. What I want to do is be the best player I can be.''