Bryce Hamilton was six years old when he first picked up a basketball, now he’s ranked sixth in the nation in points per game as he finishes his final year as a Runnin’ Rebel.
“I started watching my brother play since he was older than me,” Hamilton said. “He would play basketball with his friends on teams and I was always that ball boy, rebounding for them, so that’s how I got into basketball.”
Growing up in Pasadena, CA, Hamilton grew up watching the Los Angeles Lakers and became a big fan, an even bigger fan when LeBron James got traded to the team.
“I’m from LA, so I watched a lot of Kobe [Bryant], definitely one of my favorite players. I’m a huge LeBron [James] fan and I also watched Michael Jordan, Tracy McGrady, a lot of players like that that are able to score the ball at a high level.”
“I would definitely choose LeBron to play one on one,” Hamilton said. “Even being able to play with LeBron, you already know it would be a crazy experience.”
Hamilton has made a name for himself, especially this past season, being named an NBA caliber player by coaches, teammates, and even some highly respected people in the media and former NBA players, including Kendrick Perkins.
After a solid performance by Hamilton in UNLV’s road game against the Nevada Wolf Pack. Perkins took to Twitter to shout out Hamilton, calling him a “walking bucket” and “one of the most prolific scorers in college.”
“That was a big time,” Hamilton said after seeing the tweet. “I was so shocked. I definitely didn’t expect that at all so when I saw that, to get high praise from somebody like him is a real honor.”
Not only was Hamilton thrilled about the shout out and high praise from Perkins but it was something special beating the rivals up north.
In his first three years at UNLV, Hamilton had not experienced a rivalry win against the Wolf Pack, until this season when the Rebels first beat Nevada 69-58 at home, then three weeks later would beat them once again in Reno 62-54.
“It was wonderful,” Hamilton said. “In the past three years I’ve been here we weren’t able to beat them so being able to beat them here at home and at their place, it was a great thing to be a part of.”
In both games, Hamilton combined for 44 points on 37.7% shooting from the field. Shooting is one of the main fundamentals in basketball which Hamilton first learned at an early age and has since been something he’s most improved on.
“My earliest memory of playing basketball is back in Pasadena, Jackie Robinson park,” Hamilton said. “I went to a little camp. I was about 6 years old and that was my first time actually playing basketball and learning the fundamentals and how to shoot.”
“My shooting has been my biggest improvement. It’s definitely been a huge skill, coming into UNLV as a freshman I was an ok shooter, wasn’t the best shooter, it was something people would say I needed to get better at and I feel like it has gotten better throughout the years I’ve been here at UNLV.”
Hamilton was shooting just 35.3% from the field his freshman year, taking only about four shots a game. With hard work and staying the course, he is now shooting 43% while taking an average of 12.8 field goal attempts per game.
Not only has Hamilton built on his shooting ability throughout the years, but has built on the relationships with coaches and most importantly, his teammates which is his favorite part of the game.
“My favorite part about playing is being able to compete and just being able to meet new people,” Hamilton said. “Basketball takes you to a lot of places, you get to meet a whole lot of people, basketball brings that connection together, plus you get to travel the world and to different states.”
While winning games is always the goal, winning and losing games can become a distant memory but making them memories with teammates can last a lifetime.
“We’ve had a lot of good memories with this tea,” Hamilton said. “I’d probably have to go with the off-court memories, like the time we went to top-golf. Just being able to have fun and chill, it’s definitely one of my favorite memories here. Everybody had a good time.”
“On the court I’d say being Colorado State, minus the points I had, I thought that was a great team win for us, we kind of put the nation on notice, just to prove that we’re a pretty good team and we’re not to be taken lightly.”
Back on Jan. 28, the Runnin’ Rebels traveled to Fort Collins to play then-ranked No. 22 Colorado State in a game they were designed to lose, missing three guards while going up against a top-ranked offense.
In that game, Hamilton finished the game with a new career-high of 42 points on 21 shots, along with a career-high seven made three-pointers, which put him tied for ninth-best single-game scoring performance in UNLV history.
That game, along with one other special one will be something Hamilton will remember most about playing here at UNLV.
“One thing I’ll always remember about playing here, that’s tough,” Hamilton said. “There’s a lot of things that come to my mind. Probably the San Diego State game, that was a huge game, my sophomore year when we beat them when they were ranked No. 4 in the nation. I also have to go with my 42-point game against Colorado State, which was huge.”
Hamilton has had a lot of success in his career at UNLV, but it wasn’t always that easy but one thing people always told him was to stay the course.
“My freshman year I didn’t get a lot of playing time,” Hamilton said. “As I’ve been here, there’s always been a lot of people just telling me to stay the course and stay hungry, keep working and don’t worry about other things just keep working.”
As he kept working and got better, he quickly became a fan-favorite, especially to little kids that come to games to see him score and lead the team to victories.
“I’ve signed a lot of autographs,” Hamilton laughed. “I’d probably say 100 to 200, a whole lot of autographs.”
Many more autographs to sign as Hamilton looks forward to playing at the next level, but before he goes he shares one final message to his teammates.
“My final message to my teammates is I think every single one of you, you guys push me every single day, get on my butt but made me better and I’ve gotten better every day since they’ve been here and I appreciate them all and love them all and I’ll definitely be coming here after the season and we’ll definitely keep that ball going forever.”