Natomas High Hires New Hoops Coach

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

Natomas High School has hired Brian Hamilton, coach of the highly successful Play Hard/Play Smart Amateur Athletic Union basketball club, as new head coach for the Nighthawks boy’s basketball team, school officials announced today.

Hamilton told THE NATOMAS BUZZ in a telephone interview Tuesday night he is excited about coaching again at Natomas High School.

“I am honored to work with such an outstanding group of educators,” Hamilton said.

Paperwork making Hamilton’s hire official was signed this morning by the Natomas Unified School District.

“We are thrilled to have Brian Hamilton leading our basketball program,” said Principal John Eick. “He not only knows basketball, but more importantly he knows what it takes to get kids to college. He has a proven track record of doing so, sending athletes to Santa Clara, USF, UC Santa Barbara, and Vanderbilt among other schools.”

Hamilton said he will not be able to get into the gym until tryouts start Monday, Nov. 5, but plans to spend the rest of this week on the Natomas High School campus getting the word out about the upcoming season.

Hamilton is a Sacramento native and graduated from McClatchy High School. He played NCAA Divison I basketball at Brigham Young University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in social science in 1999.

Hamilton played one year of professional basketball in Mexico before switching his focus to coaching with Grant High’s freshman hoops team. He has spent most of his professional career working with youth.

Hamilton currently serves as a resident service coordinator at Jamboree Housing with Hearts and founded Play Hard/Play Smart Youth Development in 2002, where he is head coach. Hamilton coached Natomas High’s junior varsity basketball team in 2004.

In 2011, Hamilton’s Play Hard/Play Smart team had a 38-3 record and “was rated No. 3 in the west coast.” In 2012, and the team went 35-7.

The Nighthawks will be Hamilton’s first varsity team as a head coach. He said he chose to apply at Natomas High because he has lived in the area since college and wants to help build up the community.

Hamilton’s goal for Natomas High is to create a high school program equivalent to that “of my AAU program.”

Josephine Lyons, a Natomas parent whose son, Jamison, played for the Nighthawks last season, called the Hamilton “the Phil Jackson of high school boy’s basketball coaching.”

According the website for Hamilton’s Play Hard/Play Smart team, the program was “Established in 2002 and led by professional men and women to expose our youth to the essential educational and athletic disciplines necessary to become productive student athletes and members of our, community.”

Hamilton is well known nationwide for his grasp of NCAA guidelines and the core classes students need to compete at the intercollegiate level. Texas A&M University Assistant Basketball Coach Kyle Keller called Natomas High School to recommend Hamilton for the coaching job.

Hamilton has already coached “at least 50” players from the Sacramento region toward earning Division I basketball scholarships. One of Hamilton’s first Play Hard/Play Smart players is former Natomas High and University of Washington player Zach Johnson.

And as for this new gig with the Nighthawks, Hamilton said, “The lessons that my athletes learn on the court are directly connected to their success off the court – I have high expectations for my athletes, and I know what it takes to succeed at the collegiate level.”

School officials said a meet and greet with Hamilton and community members, parents, students, and staff is in the works.

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