Blake Hamilton wasn’t the MAC Tournament MVP last year. He wasn’t Buffalo’s top scorer, and he likely won’t be this year.
But Hamilton did hit the championship shot in Cleveland last year, has found his way onto the Preseason All-MAC East team, and is Buffalo’s most versatile and adaptable threat.
You can’t get the whole picture of Hamilton’s value from a single stat, but consider his 2015-16 season line: 13.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.3 steals, and 37.9% shooting from distance. Respectively, that’s second, first, second, first, and second among the Bulls. He was only one of two players in the conference to lead his team in both rebounds and steals.
And it’s cliche, but stats alone, even a box-score-filling line like that one, doesn’t say it all. Hamilton’s greatest value in Amherst comes from his versatility, as he excels anywhere from point guard to small forward and is a matchup nightmare at the extremes, too big for opposing guards and too quick down low on the blocks. At times last season he played the five in a small lineup, but with Ikenna Smart and Nick Perkins improving and David Kadiri and Raheem Johnson returning to health, that’s more unlikely in 2016-17.
If there’s a glaring weakness in Blake’s game, it’s that he can occasionally find himself in foul trouble, in 2015-16 committing four or five fouls in more games than he played 30 minutes.
On a team scale, Hamilton is the embodiment of UB’s success over the last three years: an instant impact JUCO transfer who came to Buffalo from Pasadena, California. He won’t threaten MAC Player of the Year voting and may not be the consensus best player on his own team, but he does a little of everything better than anyone UB has had in five years.