By: Jack Adamo
It’s a fact that not too many NCAA Division-III athletes will go pro in their respective sports. However as the 22nd overall pick in the 2012 Puerto Rican professional basketball, league
that’s exactly what Rhode Island College senior guard Keith Hamilton is going to be doing.
After graduation, Hamilton will join the Vaqueros De Baymon program on the beaches of the small island of Puerto Rico to start his professional career at the age of 22. “I’m really excited for the opportunity,” said Hamilton, “It’s a crazy league; I have a long way to go.”
Hamilton will join a team that currently has a roster comprised of players from around the globe including former Boston Celtic Mike Sweetney. Vaqueros De Baymon is currently mid-way through their season, which runs from January to September usually, but will end early for the Olympic Games this year. They sit at 11-8 and in second place in the league.
It won’t be the first time the Hamilton has played on the island as he did his freshman year of college at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico. His team was “stacked” in his words as they cruised to a league championship before he transferred to RIC. Hamilton has been a part of two Little East Conference
regular season titles, two LEC Tournament titles, three trips to the NCAA tournament and a pair of trips to the Sweet-16 in his career under head coach Bob Walsh. “Obviously it’s good to be coming out a winning program,” said Hamilton “One thing I’ve definitely pulled out of my time here is getting better at defense.”
Defense is one of the sides of the game that Hamilton is certainly going to being to his new team in a league where teams regularly put up over eighty or ninety points a night. “It’s a more offensive minded league down there for certain,” said Hamilton, “I’ve always been an offensive player so I think that will work well for me.”
No matter how Hamilton fares it’ll be comforting to know that family will be close by as the new star will have several aunts, uncles and cousins close by on the island. “Also, my dad is acting as my manager right now and took care of the business side of things and will hopefully get down there for some games,” said Hamilton.
On top of that, maybe the most important part of Hamilton’s family that will be with him on the island is older brother Kevin. Kevin will be playing for another team in the league after spending time in Germany. “It’s going to be interesting because he’s talented, like he’s really good,” joked Hamilton. “He’s been playing pro for three years now so he has a little bit of a head start.”
A head start yes, but certainly one Hamilton can learn from. The brothers will spend the summer in Worcester, Massachusetts working out and preparing at Kevin’s alma mater, Holy Cross, where he played four years, highlighted by a Patriot League title and a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Kevin will have had the experience of a pro-league both on and off the court, but for little brother Keith it will certainly be eye opening. “They’re treated like kings down there so it’s definitely going to be cool,” said Hamilton with a wide-eyed grin on his face. “They have something to live up too, they’re looked at highly, so they definitely have to keep their reputation high.”
Excited to move on, Hamilton will first have to lock it down for three more weeks to power though graduation with his degree in marketing and he’s not going to forget his time here. “I’ve had great teammates in Mase (Mason Choice), Tah (Tahrike Carter), Big Mike (Mike Akinrola) and we’ve had success and a great time so I wouldn’t trade that for the world,” said Hamilton.
Making the jump to the next step is never easy but Hamilton has a great support system of family around him and certainly has the offensive capabilities to succeed in the Puerto Rican league, look for him to become a big name on a small island.