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Don Farrell
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Detroit Pistons long shot Hamilton waving Trinidad and Tobago flag - Dec 2, 2018

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He's a long shot to make the Pistons' 15-man roster for the opener against the Brooklyn Nets on Oct. 17.

The roster is already set with 15 guaranteed contracts and Hamilton is likely destined for major minutes with the Grand Rapids Drive, the Pistons' Gatorade League affiliate.

But the rookie from Texas-Arlington, who hails from a sparse area in the Caribbean country, hasn't forgotten his humble origins.

'It's a blessing to be able to represent my country,' Hamilton said after Monday's practice at the Auburn Hills facility.

'It's a real one-in-a-million opportunity and I'm glad to have this opportunity. I'm flying my flag high and I represent them in American and Detroit.'

If successful, Hamilton could be the first player born and raised in the country to play in the NBA, although it isn't clear.

Carl Herrera, a power forward for the Houston Rockets in the 1990s, was born in Trinidad, but spent his formative years in Venezuela.

Another player, Kenny Charles, was a guard for the Buffalo Braves in the 1970s, but he went to high school in New York City.

'It's really big back home,' Hamilton said. 'I can't wait to go home and celebrate with my people.'

Hamilton, 24, is an athletic 7-footer who runs the floor well and protects the rim.

He started late in life, switching to basketball from soccer - although his father played hoops.

Hamilton started his college career at Virginia Tech before transferring to the Texas-Arlington for a grad transfer season where he averaged 11.1 points per game last season and 8.1 rebounds while shooting 63 percent from the field. He also averaged 2.3 blocks.

Now he is jostling for position in practice with center Andre Drummond, a two-time NBA All-Star.

'Playing against him is really tough because he's so strong,' Hamilton said. 'He might look like he is cool on the court, but he is very strong. That helps me get better because it lets me know the areas I need to develop.'

Although Drummond hopes to expand his game to the 3-point line, Hamilton's game is similar to Drummond's.

And Hamilton is aware of his strengths.

'My role is to defend, protect the rim,' Hamilton said. 'I'm going to keep getting better and getting better at what I'm good at.'

Whether that's with the Pistons or in the G-League.

'I'm not focused on where I will end up, I'm focused on getting better every day because anything can happen,' Hamilton said. 'If I make the NBA team, that would be a blessing. But I'm going to be working every day to get better and learn as much as I can.

'If I do go to the G-League, it will be to get better there. It's always a chance to get better, but I'm not focused on I have to make an NBA team because if I don't make it, my spirit is crushed, and I can't function in the G-League.'   

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