Hamlett second to none for Mavericks

For Connor Hamlett, basketball may be his “second sport,” but it’s his first love.

During the recently completed Class 3A state boys basketball tournament, Hamlett, who started playing basketball in elementary before turning his attention to football, averaged 24 points and 10 rebounds per game.

The 6-foot-7 senior capped his all-tourney-team performance with 33 points and 10 rebounds in a 66-55 win over Franklin, a victory that earned the Meadowdale Mavericks a fifth-place trophy.

The game also closed the scorebook on a brilliant senior season for Hamlett, who averaged 19.3 points per game and led the Mavs to second-place finishes in the Wesco South and the 3A District 1 tournament.

For his invaluable contributions to his team’s success, Hamlett is The Herald’s 2010 All-Area Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

What makes Hamlett’s season even more impressive is the fact basketball is his “second sport.” Hamlett, who didn’t start playing football until he was an eighth-grader, starred at tight end for the Mavericks’ football team this past fall and his skills on the gridiron earned him a scholarship to Oregon State University.

However, despite being recruited for his rapidly developing football skills, he decided to stick with basketball through high school. That decision ultimately led the Mavericks back to this year’s state tournament — the first time in school history the Meadowdale boys have competed at state three consecutive years — and the highest placement in program history.

“We knew that we were a good team so we decided that we were going to be playing on Saturday no matter what and we were going to get a trophy, whether it was first through eighth,” Hamlett said.

After losing 49-43 in the opening round to the Enumclaw Hornets — who went on to place second — Meadowdale clawed its way through the consolation bracket with victories over Foster, Renton and Franklin. Hamlett led the way, scoring 30, 15 and 33 points in the three victories.

Not a bad way to close out a basketball career.

Interestingly, Hamlett’s emphasis on football may be one of the biggest reasons for his stellar hoop season. By working hard in the weight room to improve his football presence, he added strength to his basketball game.

According to Meadowdale coach Chad McGuire, Hamlett has the whole package. He’s a great defender and outstanding passer, but really stands out as a scorer. Hamlett tallied a season-high 36 points in a district playoff game against Glacier Peak.

“I think he has had one of the most dominant seasons a big man can have,” McGuire said. “It’s a combination of his size, strength and athleticism. It’s a lethal combination when you’re that tall and that good of an athlete.”

As Meadowdale’s co-captain, Hamlett also was a strong leader.

“He’s a great teammate because everyone likes him. He’s a nice guy,” McGuire said. “I think that in addition to being a vocal leader, he’s also a leader with his work ethic. He works hard every day in practice and the games and people want to follow that work ethic.”

His outstanding senior year left Hamlett with a bounty of fond basketball memories as he turns his attention full time to football. “That’s probably one of the most fun times I have ever had in my high school career,” he said.

And what will McGuire miss most about his star athlete?

“Connor is a great kid and a great student and a great role model for the team,” McGuire said.

“But,” the coach added with a laugh, “we’ll also miss the 20 points and 10 rebounds.”

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