By UTA Public Relations and Advertising Student, Jennifer Duong
ARLINGTON, Texas - UT Arlington 7-foot center Johnny Hamilton is a long way from his native Trinidad.
As a kid, for fun, he swam in the river, played sports, and played cricket with his friends. Hamilton grew up playing soccer in Trinidad until he grew too tall and switched over to basketball.
He initially started his college basketball career at Jacksonville Junior College before playing two seasons at Virginia Tech. After graduating in August, Hamilton transferred to UTA to attend graduate school and play for the Mavericks in his final season of eligibility.
At Virginia Tech, Hamilton earned a bachelor's degree in criminology. He is currently pursuing his master's degree in criminal justice. After his playing career is over, among his life goals is to become a police commissioner back home in Trinidad.
When transitioning from soccer to basketball as a youth, Hamilton said it wasn't difficult because the sports are somewhat similar in many ways. He says it is important to be fit and have good footwork. Hamilton incorporates footwork he learned from soccer onto the basketball court.
Even though he is far from home, Hamilton tries to visit his hometown once or twice a year.
"It's really lonely when you don't see your family very much, especially when you're used to being around them every day," said Hamilton, "I'm more of a family guy."
Both of Hamilton's parents played sports. His father was one of the better basketball players in Trinidad and originally taught him how to play the game. Both of his parents are his biggest motivation when it comes to basketball. They taught him everything from sports, to being independent to cooking.
Hamilton can make a wide variety of foods, but the best dish that he makes is a Trinidadian dish made up of rice, chicken, beans, and potato salad. He calls it "The Johnny Dish." Being on his own in college, he does his best to maintain the cooking skills his mom taught him while growing up.
After he graduated from Virginia Tech, Hamilton received offers to play college basketball from schools across the country. He decided to transfer to UTA because he knew associate head coach Greg Young. Young was one of the first coaches that recruited Hamilton while he was coaching at Jacksonville Junior College.
After Hamilton transferred to UTA, his teammates played a crucial role in helping him get to know Arlington. He attended the Texas State Fair for the first time, saying the most enjoyable fair food for him was the Fried Oreos.
"I loved the Oreos so much, I had to get them twice," said Hamilton.
His teammates tried to encourage him on to the various thrill rides. But, he refused because he doesn't like heights.
In his final year, Hamilton's set a goal to make a big impact on the team and hopes to lead the Mavericks to the NCAA Tournament.
He has advice for those following the same college career path.
"Stick with it. Believe in yourself. Motivate yourself. Read a lot," he said. "I don't like to read, but I do it because that's how you can be more educated. Know what you want and work towards that goal. It gives you opportunities. It doesn't matter where you come from."
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