published Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

Walk-on Moc a captain

SUCCESSFUL SCRIMMAGE


The Mocs held their first scrimmage sessions Saturday afternoon after a 90-minute practice in the morning and going for 90 minutes before the scrimmage.

Coach John Shulman observed and instructed during the three 10-minute scrimmages -- so players could swap teams -- while letting assistants coach the squads.

"We knew we were going to make mistakes in here, but I wanted them to separate themselves from others with energy," Shulman said. "Some people moved up the ladder and some people moved down."

He wouldn't say who dropped a slot but said the team "made a million mistakes" yet still came away with a positive feeling from the session.

"I was really pleased with Rico [White], who has a basketball IQ, Lance [Stokes] does what you ask of him and Jared Bryant moved up the ladder," Shulman said. "Overall, we stayed in our comfort zone and we didn't go crazy."

Dontay Hampton has been the smallest guy on the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball team since walking on and redshirting his freshman season of 2008-09.

He is still a walk-on. He is still the smallest Moc, generously listed at 6-foot-1 and a solid 165 pounds.

Hampton is also a captain.

He helps instruct the five newcomers. He lines up at halfcourt with fellow captains Chris Early, Keegan Bell and Ricky Taylor, facing the rest of the team for pre-practice stretching. The Mocs voted him into the position.

He's the backup point guard and averaged just 3.1 points and 9.2 minutes per game last year -- rarely credentials for a traditional captain.

But Hampton isn't a typical captain.

The former Chattanooga Arts & Sciences star had his share of schools, mostly junior colleges and other non-Division I programs, to choose from after graduation.

But leaving Chattanooga would mean leaving his little half-brother Malik. Hampton decided he had to stay. He had to help his mother, Feltonia Hampton, raise Malik, who lost his father to natural causes far too soon.

"He's welcomed that responsibility," UTC coach John Shulman said. "Most kids wouldn't have been in that position. He wanted to help raise his little brother."

Hampton and Malik, were born about nine years apart. Hampton brought Malik to open gym, to practices and games when he played at CSAS. He's had Malik over for weekends in his UTC apartment and tries to get him as a ballboy for UTC games as much as possible.

Hampton has been tried to be a father figure that he didn't have, and the man in the family for Malik.

"I've helped look after him since I was 11," Hampton said. "I didn't have a father and I'm doing my best."

Hampton played an important role for the Mocs last season, helping them win at Kennesaw State by forcing a turnover in the final minute of a four-point win and during the conference season after guard Josh Odem was dismissed from the team after the fall semester.

With new freshmen in this season to boost the backcourt, Shulman is unsure where Hampton fits best. He's obviously a backup to Bell, who averaged 34.5 minutes per game last year.

"A good number for me," Bell said. "I don't get tired, especially with my new diet and routine."

Regardless of playing time, Hampton has risen from a walk-on afterthought to a team captain because of his maturation more than his on-court contributions.

"I'm so much more ready, more attentive to details and ready to go at any time," Hampton said. "It does kind of feel like I've been here forever."

Yet he has two full seasons ahead of him -- as captain.

about David Uchiyama...

David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...

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