Kevin Hamilton And Heiko Schaffartzik: Possibly The Most Underrated Point Guard Duo In The BBL

Kevin Hamilton is a 25 year old 193cm guard from Queens Village, New York. This season, he is playing for The New York Phantoms Braunschweig. He played at Holy Cross from 2002-2006 and played together with ex Skyliner Keith Simmons. In his senior year, he played 31 games averaging 17.6ppg, 6.3rpg, 3.5apg, 3.3spg, FG: 38.1%, 3PT: 33.2%, FT: 77.7%. In his rookie  season 2006-2007, he came to Europe and played in Poland for Polpak Swiecie playing 19 games and averaging 13.0ppg, 4.5rpg, 3.8apg, Steals-2(2.3spg), 2FGP: 44.8%, 3PT: 38.2%, FT: 64.2%. In 2007-2008, he played in France for Besancon Basket Comte Doubs (France-ProB) playing 2 games and averaging 6.0ppg, 2.5rpg, 2.5apg. He also had a short tenure in Mexico with Pioneros de Quintana Roo-Cancun.

In 2008-2009, he returned back to Poland to play for SKK Kotwica Kolobrzeg playing 32 games averaging 11.0ppg, 5.1rpg, Assists-1(6.4apg), Steals-1(2.8spg), FGP: 43.6%, 3PT: 32.6%, FT: 66.5%. He was not lazy in the last three summers staying in game shape and playing in Puerto Rico playing 90 games. This past summer, he played for Indios de Mayaguez playing 35 games and averaging 10.5ppg, 4.7rpg, Assists-3(6.3apg), Steals-2(1.7spg), FGP: 45.4%, 3PT: 28.1%, FT: 70.6%. His father was a draft pick of The Boston Celtics in 1980.

Kevin took some time to talk to German Hoops.

You are playing your first season in Germany with The New York Phantoms Braunschweig. After playing in Poland and France, how do you like playing in Germany?

I love it here in Germany so far. My city is very nice and the club is very professional. The league is also very competitive and fun to play in as well.

How easy was your decision to come to Braunschweig following coach Sebastian Machowski from SKK Kotwica Kolobrzeg?

It was a pretty easy decision. Me and coach developed a good relationship in Poland and I felt very comfortable in his system. He is a players coach which makes it easy to play for him and also makes you want to play hard for him in the game. Aside from basketball, he is a very nice guy and cares about his players so I was excited to have the opportunity to play with him again.

Braunschweig started on a five game winning, but has lost three of the last four games. What have been the biggest problems with the team in the last weeks losing these games?

Honestly we just have been missing shots we usually make and not executing at the end of games. We had opportunities to win each of the games that we lost and we know that but we can’t dwell on the losses we just have to learn from our mistakes and correct them the next game, which I am confident we will.

How difficult has it been for the team playing less games having a 6-3 record, but being in 13th place on account of the new German standings that give a point for a loss?

Its a little confusing but I am sure with the more games we get to play we will get a better idea of where we stand in the league.

Many experts see The New York Phantoms Braunschweig as possibly doing damage this season. How developed is the team chemistry at the moment?

I think we should do damage this year. The chemistry is fine, everyone gets along with each other, we do a lot of stuff together off the court, and we enjoy playing together so hopefully we can prove the experts right.

Braunschweig is very strong at each position, but where would you say is the biggest strength in the offense set play?

I am not sure if we have a biggest strength. We are not really a team with a particular go to guy. I think we are pretty balanced and on any given night someone can carry us offensively. I think its more enjoyable playing on a team like that anyway.

The team has kept teams under 70 points four times this season. Usually each team has a defense energizer. Who is that aggressive force on the team on defense?

I would say our defensive energizers are Nils Mittman and Jason Cain. Jason is real athletic and is a great pick and role defender , he also is very vocal so its makes life on the guards a lot easier having a big man who can dictate the action and let you know what is going on behind you. Nils is a real physical guard who likes to guard the best players on each team.

Explain your role a bit. You are a point guard that is averaging 30 minutes per game as does Heiko Schaffartzik who is averaging 30 minutes. How much time are both of you spending on the two positions and how does this rotation benefit the club?

Playing with Heiko has been great. I wasn’t sure what to expect once he arrived being that he was the point guard of the national team and I was brought here to play the point as well, but it has worked out great so far. I think we make each others lives a little easier as well because with each other in the game we can switch from the 1 and 2 position whenever we want which helps especially with teams who like to pressure a lot. He really understands the game as well, I love playing with him.

You and Heiko Schaffartzik are very potent creaters. Do you ever play together on the court at the same time? I would suspect that finding the open guy is especially easy then?

Me and Heiko are on the court very often. Finding the open guy is something I think we both pride ourselves on and I think we have done a pretty good job of it so far.

Schaffartzik is more of a scoring point guard. How would you describe yourself as a point guard? Are you more the classic point guard that passes first and then shoots?

I think on this team that is what my role is at this point. Coming into the season coach explained to me that my role would change, because there were so many more players and I would not be the only point on the team. This year I knew I wouldn’t have the ball in my hands as much because there were so many people who could create there own shot and run an offense as well. I am satisfied with my role though. As long as we are winning games. I actually enjoy trying to run the offense and getting the team set up. When the team is clicking offensively ,people are in the right positions and we are getting good shots at the basket I know I am doing a good job. I just want to be in the game when it counts.

You have been a scorer often in your career and always had high assist stats, but so far this season you are averaging only 6,6ppg. Why is your scoring so low? Does it have to do with your role, because there are many guys that can score?

Well earlier in my career I was a shooting guard. Actually up until last year that is all I played so my role on those teams was to be more aggressive in terms of scoring the ball. In terms of me only averaging 7 points so far this year, part of it is my role and the fact that we have so many people on the team that can score, but the other part is I just have not hit shots the past couple games. Its real early in the season so missing shots mean a lot more in percentages. Three games ago I was shooting in the high 40s in percentage from the three and now I am shooting in the low 30’s. Its a part of basketball though and the great thing about it is you have another game the next week so I a am confident ill be able to make some shots in the near future.

Your not shooting particular well from outside at the moment, but what things can you still improve in your game?

All I can do is get more shots up in practice this week and keep firing away. I am not really concerned about it, the ball cant go in if it does not go up. I think my teammates still have confidence in me and I have confidence in myself. Even if I keep missing shots I will continue to do whatever I can on the court to help us win. Keep getting assists and setting up my teammates, playing good defense, rebounding etc.

How is your relationship to coach Sebastian Machowski? What is his biggest strength as a coach and how has he made you better in the last two years?

Me and coach are real cool, He has many strengths as a coach, but the biggest I would say is getting players to genuinely want to win for him. I think that is part of what makes all of his players better and what has made him so successful so far in his career.

You grew up in New York. What was your childhood like?

I lived a nice childhood, I grew up in Queens , New York , so I have been around basketball my whole life. My neighborhood was like any urban neighborhood in the states but I had a real good family structure so my parents kept us away from any distractions.

Your dad got drafted in 1980 in the 3rd round by The Boston Celtics. Was he able to have a career as a professional? Back then being drafted so late was tough to land in the NBA.

Yes , my father was drafted, but unfortunately he got injured in pre-season so he wasn’t able to pursue his career. He decided to start a family instead. I think he had a good chance of making the team though. My father could really shoot the ball.

What advice did your dad give you about becoming a professional basketball player?

He always tells me to enjoy it. I speak to my father very often and sometimes when I am frustrated or something he always reminds me how fortunate I am to be playing basketball and providing for my family. He has always has been very supportive.

Who were your NBA idols growing up?

Micheal Jordan, young Penny Hardaway, Joe Dumars, Kobe Bryant.

What NBA player would you say is your game similar to?

Right now I would say Rajon Rondo, who I actually played with in Celtics summer league. I’d say that because he has been doing a good job of running the team and is among league leaders in assist. He also isn’t shooting the ball so well right now either lol.

You played at Holy Cross together with Keith Simmons. Currently he is in Turkey. Do you think that he could play for a Euroleague team in the future and what about his game did you always respect?

I hope Keith gets the oppurtunity to play with a Euroleague team. He is a very skilled player and has all the tools to play at the highest levels in Europe. I have always respected his work ethic and his attitude to the game. I wish him all the best. We had some battles in practice back in the day. Next time you speak with him ask him about “individuals”. lol

This past summer, you played in Puerto Rico. Most players like to spend the little time that they have at home instead of playing over the summer. Was this more an experience for you to help you land with a team or did you play just for the love of the game?

Well I have a wife and 4 month old daughter so Home is wherever they are for me. Puerto Rico is a great league and me being of Puerto Rican decent I see it as a privilege to play in that league to begin with. I actually hope to play with the Puerto Rican national team next summer as well so playing in that league is necessary. Of course I love the game but I love playing there as well. Puerto Rico is like my second home.

You played 35 games in three months. That is like an NBA schedule. How difficult was it playing almost every three days?

I actually find playing every three days more fun. The fans and the atmosphere out there is great so you get up for every game as well.

Last season, you played together with Paderborn Basket Sefton Barrett in Poland. Paderborn has been struggling, but recently snapped their nine game losing streak. Barrett has played pretty solid. What was your nicest memory playing together with him in Poland?

Me and Sefton became real close in Poland. He spent a lot of time in my apartment losing to me in NBA 2k9. He is a very talented player and one of the most athletic players I have ever been on the court with. I am glad he is doing so well out here. I always knew that once he was given an opportunity he would raise some eyebrows. My nicest memories on the court were throwing him alley-oops in transition. I really hope to play with him again sometime in my career.

Who wins a one on one? You or Heiko Schaffartzik?

I would say me because I would post him up. I would not put my money against him in a shooting competition though.

What was the most craziest shot that you ever took in a practice or game?

Probably a half court shot.

What do you do on a free day in Braunschweig? Has John Allen taken you to a Wolfsburg soccer game?

On a free day in Braunsweig Iam probably in my house watching some seasons of Martin with my wife and daughter. We might go out to dinner. John and I both attended a Wolfburg game along with the rest of my team. But most of the time me and John are arguing about which players are better in the NBA. That guy thinks he knows everything lol.

What was the last DVD that you saw?

Law abiding Citizen, bootleg, I recomend it.

Thanks Kevin for the chat! Good luck this season!

Thanks a lot.

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