More than 1,400 miles from his native New Orleans, Gregory Hammond found a second home last week when he visited the University of Rhode Island.
“He called me on the visit and he said, ‘Coach, this is the spot for me,’” said Jason Bertrand, Hammond’s coach at Sophie B. Wright Charter School in New Orleans. “He loved it.”
Rhode Island is set to become a true home for the next four years after Hammond gave a verbal commitment to the Rams Friday night. Rated a three-star prospect by 247sports.com and Rivals.com, the 6-foot-5 wing is the third member of URI’s class of 2019. Massachusetts forward Marial Mading also committed last week, while Virginia wing Mekhi Long has been a URI pledge since June.
Hammond had offers from Mississippi State, Ole Miss and URI’s A-10 mate Richmond, among others.
“He let the process take its course, but what he really liked about Rhode Island was that he felt like the coaches were being honest with him,” Bertrand said. “Greg is a great listener, and he really listened to what they were saying. Some schools, he didn’t trust the conversations. Coach Cox and crew did a great job.”
Hammond plays with the Louisiana Supreme AAU program. At Sophie B. Wright, he’s the leader of a core that has been together for several years. The team made the state quarterfinals two years ago and the semifinals last year. This year, the goal is a state title.
“This is a really good group. You don’t find groups like this in the AAU age,” Bertrand said. “They stuck together.”
Bertrand said Hammond’s game brings to mind NBA veteran and former Connecticut star Rudy Gay.
“Long, broad shoulders and he can flat-out score,” Bertrand said. “He’s a constant. We always know what we’ve got in Greg. He’s humble. He comes from a great family. He’s bringing leadership this year. And his work ethic is exceptional.”
Once the title quest concludes this year, Bertrand expects that work ethic to carry over to the next level.
“I think Rhode Island is lucky to have him,” he said. “He’s one of a kind. He believes in the process and when he commits to something, there’s no stopping him.”