While he hopes to play for Syracuse or Maryland one day, this Baltimore youth is a leader on the court, an electric passer, can lock down his man on defense and always puts his team first.
Antonio Hamlin of Owings Mills, Md., who stands at 6’0” / 178lbs, is an eighth grader at Joy’Dine Focus Academy and plays point guard for Maryands’ Finest.
Hamlin, who began playing basketball at 3-years-old, has won five AAU state championships and three AAU national championships in the last six years. He is also a two-time Middle School All-American and ranked nationally.
He told Youth1 how he briefly tried taekwondo, but once he joined his first rec league at the age of 4, he fell in love with hoops.
“I always had a passion for the game,” Hamlin said. “Since the day I touched a basketball I’ve done nothing but work and improved. Over the years, I’ve become faster, stronger and smarter.”
Although he is young and never saw Hall of Fame point guards Magic Johnson or Isiah Thomas play, he describes himself as a student of the game. He watches clips on YouTube of former players often and is obsessed with the NBA. He idolizes John Wall and Russell Westbrook, two All-Star point guards who play with passion and energy like him.
Hamlin stressed that his dad, Antonio, has had the biggest impact on him. While he never played ball professionally, he is well known among basketball players in the Baltimore community. The two of them would shoot hoops in front of their house, talk basketball and ultimately became close because of the sport.
In fact, his father often took him to the local Jewish Community Center, where Hamlin never afraid of a challenge, played against older kids and men. His competitiveness was not only evident on the court, but even at home when the family plays board games he needs to win.
His dad, who was one of his first coaches, always pushed him to go the gym and work hard, but Hamlin credits a lot of his success to his trainer and Mount Carmel Coach Hakim Hibbert.
“A lot of my coaches had an impact on my basketball career,” he said. “He’s (Hibbert) the one who built up my whole skillset.”
Hibbert began training Hamlin when he was in second grade, where he put him through rigorous drills that were normally used for kids in high school. When Hamlin first met him he could dribble, but some of the other basic basketball skills were unknown to him.
His mother, Angela, recalled how he would be drenched in buckets of sweat when he came home from training. She noted that even after practicing with Hibbert, Hamlin would do the drills in their basement.
“He (Hibbert) didn’t give him any slack” Angela said.
Hamlin was a forward when he first started playing because he was one of the taller kids. However, once he hit sixth grade, he became the point guard and didn’t grow much more.
He considers himself a point forward who has a passion for defense and always getting his teammates involved in the game.
“I feel like passing is one of the easiest parts of my game,” he noted. It’s one thing to pass the ball, it’s another thing to set people up.”
Furthermore, he stressed that even if he is having a bad offensive game, his hard-nosed defense always carries him.
“If I’m not having a good shooting game, but I’m playing good defense, I’ll still have confidence,” he stressed.
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