Thursday, January 31, 2013
- by B.B. Branton
Head basketball coaches John Shulman (Chattanooga) and Glenn “Doc” Rivers (Boston Celtics) have at least one thing in common.
They have both lost talented, veteran point guards for the remainder of the season; senior Dontay Hampton at Chattanooga and NBA All-Star Rajon Rondo for the Celtics.
For UTC’s “Tay” – who has knee surgery this morning at 7:30 – this is the second ACL tear in seven months.
Hampton’s most recent knee injury came last Thursday in a 85-61 road loss to Elon, while Rondo went down for the season the next night in a 123-111 loss in Atlanta after posting a triple-double - 16 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists. Hampton started against Elon and had two points, a pair of boards and an assist before re-injuring his right knee in the first half.
“When he was hurt and lying on the floor last Thursday he looked at me and said “I’m done,’” said Shulman.
“Tay is the heart and soul of this team, he’s our captain and leader and he will be sorely missed.
But, we needed finality on this (his knee injury), now we have it and we move on.”
Shulman plans to use sophomore Ronrico White and freshman Farad Cobb at the point the final 10 games of the regular season.
The Mocs are at Georgia Southern on Saturday and home for Legends Weekend, hosting The Citadel (Thurs. Feb.7) and the College of Charleston (Sat. Feb. 9) in a women's/men's doubleheader.
Besides torn ACL’s, the two team leaders have played different roles, yet with similar careers.
“Tay” is the fifth year senior veteran whose job was and is “mentoring” young point guards, while Rondo’s role - as member of the Big Three – has been to complement future hall of famers Paul Pearce and Kevin Garnett.
The former high school all-state players (Hampton in Chattanooga and Rondo in Louisville, Ky.) both have championships rings; Hampton with the SoCon champion Mocs in 2009 and Rondo who wears an NBA championship ring from 2008.
While Rondo and the Boston leprechauns danced on the Los Angeles Lakers grave in 2008, Hampton put not one, but two daggers in the heart of Appalachian State players and fans the past two seasons.
In Rondo -like fashion, “Tay” drove the length of the floor in the closing seconds for the winning basket against App. State as a junior. Earlier this month his long “trey” capped a Mocs comeback in regulation and then led the overtime win against the same ASU squad.
The product of a single-family home (as is Rondo), Hampton has worked his way through adversity and has succeeded.
The Chattanooga native has helped raise his younger brother, Malik, for the past decade, carries just under a 3.0 grade point average will graduate in May with a marketing degree.
The 6-2 guard could have played junior college ball after leading Chattanooga Arts and Sciences to 99 wins and a state runner-up finish as a junior, but stayed close to home for Malik, and walked on with coach Shulman’s Mocs.
Four years later he has his full scholarship in hand as well as the SoCon championship ring from his redshirt freshman year.
“We will help Tay any way we can after he graduates,” said Shulman. “If he wants to play in Europe, I have no doubt he will do well.”
contact B.B. Branton at William.firstname.lastname@example.org