Jermaine Hamlin was a late addition to the Illinois Basketball program last season, committing and signing just a week and a half before classes officially started in the fall. The former Lincoln Railer played his high school ball just over an hour away from Champaign and averaged 13.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game as a senior. He played his AAU ball with the Bradley Beal Elite and was picked as an all-state third team selection, but went unrated by any national recruiting sites. So Hamlin went with his only offer and gave the Illini much-needed frontcourt depth this season.
By The Numbers
Hamlin appeared in 16 games for the Illini this season. He finished with 15 points and 13 boards on the year — not exactly numbers that jump off the screen, but what can you expect from a guy that missed the entire summer with the team.
Impact on the Illini
Most other years, Hamlin is probably a solid redshirt candidate. He was late with the program and planned on taking a prep year after high school anyways, but this year’s roster needed him. Outside of Kofi Cockburn, there wasn’t another true center on the team. Giorgi Bezhanishvili was already in the lineup with Cockburn, leaving only Hamlin and an injured Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk. Someone had to be there to eat up minutes in case of foul trouble. Hamlin did just that.
Jermaine’s Best Game
By far, Hamlin’s best game in his freshman season was the Nov. 26 matchup with Lindenwood. He notched season highs across the board in minutes (12), points (8), and rebounds (4). It was one of three games in which Hamlin scored multiple points and one of five games where he pulled down multiple boards. He went a perfect 3-of-3 from the line and also collected his only assist of the year.
The Quick and Dirty
If Hamlin sticks around and continues to put in work, then I think he could be a solid contributor by the time he’s an upperclassmen. Right now, his game is very raw, however. He doesn’t have overpowering strength like Cockburn does or the type of athleticism to beat other bigs above the rim, but a couple years with Adam Fletcher in the weight room and the post specialist of the staff, Orlando Antigua, could pay dividends. He won’t ever be asked to be the focal point of the offense. But by rebounding and making an impact around the rim, he could see an uptick in his minutes.
Seven years ago a 6-foot-10, 240-pound three-star center named Maverick Morgan joined the Illini. As a freshman, he averaged 1.5 points and 1.2 rebounds per game. Morgan was never known for his strength or athleticism or defense, but he developed a jumpshot and a respectable back-to-the-basket game. By his senior year, he was starting almost every game, averaging almost double figures in scoring and 4.5 boards a game. That’s a reasonable goal for a guy who could see a significant increase in minutes next season if Cockburn gets drafted this summer.