Clinton basketball star narrows recruitment to Mississippi State, Alabama as Ole Miss cools on him

Langston Newsome
Mississippi Clarion Ledger

Clinton small forward Kimani Hamilton is down to two schools. The three-star recruit is considering Alabama and Mississippi State. 

Hamilton also included Ole Miss in his top three schools in September. However, Hamilton said coach Kermit Davis and the Rebels have cooled on him over the last few weeks and ultimately shut down his recruitment. 

The 6-foot-8, 215-pound Hamilton had an official visit with Ole Miss scheduled for Saturday, but the senior will no longer be in Oxford this weekend as he focuses on the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs.

The Rebels were Hamilton's first Power Five offer. 

“It was kind of hard because (Ole Miss) surprised me that they did that,” Hamilton said on Wednesday. “But they feel like they got two other recruits or I probably won’t come there. 

 “Coach Davis texted me today. He said it was fun recruiting me and stuff like that.” 

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Ole Miss received commitments from Southern California Academy (Calif.) shooting guard Robert Cowherd and Faith Family Academy of Oak Cliff (Texas) shooting guard TJ Caldwell in the last two weeks.

Cowherd and Caldwell are both three-star recruits and ranked nationally at  No. 216 and No. 176, respectively, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. 

Hamilton is the No. 2 recruit in Mississippi, No. 34 small forward in the 2022 class and the No. 133 player nationally. He averaged 17 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks last season for the Arrows. In the postseason, he led Clinton to the MHSAA 6A championship and averaged 19.8 points and 12 rebounds.

Hamilton has also received offers from Creighton, Georgetown and TCU, among others. 

The 2021 Clarion Ledger All-state boys basketball selection visited Alabama on Oct. 2 and has an official visit with Mississippi State scheduled for Oct. 16. 

“The unofficial visit to Alabama was really good,” Hamilton said. “They have very good fans and it was just amazing. I had a real fun time at the football game. They showed me mad love.” 

Alabama assistant coach Antoine Pettway is Hamilton’s primary recruiter for the Crimson Tide. Petty envisions Hamilton as a “big guard” for Alabama who would seamlessly fit into their offensive system. 

Mississippi State has recruited him the hardest of the two in-state SEC schools, with coach Ben Howland staying in frequent contact. 

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“I just feel like that could be another home for me,” Hamilton said about Mississippi State. “I feel the same for Alabama. I just love the coaching staff and the players that surround them.

“With coach Ben Howland the way he makes players, adapts them and helps them get to the league that really stands out to me.” 

Hamilton believes he’ll be a three-level scorer in college, especially after focusing on getting stronger this year. But his ability to facilitate stands out to Pettway and Howland. 

“Coach Howland and coach Pettway always tell me that they notice how my playmaking is one of my greatest strengths,” Hamilton said. “That’s what coach Howland thinks I do the best: pass and get other people involved.”