2019 NBA Draft: How the draft can humble even the best college stars, according to Rip Hamilton

Few people end their college basketball careers as well as Richard "Rip" Hamilton did back in 1999.

The Coatesville Area standout not only cemented himself in University of Connecticut history by earning Most Outstanding Player honors for the NCAA Tournament and leading the Huskies over the nine-point favorite Duke Blue Devils in the national championship, but he also secured his status as a coveted NBA Draft prospect.

"The buzz has always been great about guys that came from UConn," Hamilton noted in CBS Sports' "Draft Day Memories" series, presented by Jeep. "Every NBA GM and every NBA president wanted to get a UConn guy. They knew that once they got there, they just wouldn't settle for just being in the NBA."

On top of that, Hamilton knew his stellar performance in the Huskies' stretch run would look good to teams in the Association.

"I always felt, especially after we won the national championship, I had a great opportunity to go lottery," he said. "You felt like you were the best of the best. And that was my big thing. Regardless of if it was the No. 1 pick or the No. 12 pick, as long as I'm in the lottery, I accomplished one of my dreams."

All the hype, however, didn't stop Hamilton, a future NBA champion, three-time All-Star and one of college hoops' finest prospects of his class, from getting a dose of humility on draft night.

"As you're sitting in the green room, it can be very edgy," he admitted. "It can be scary. And now you're like, 'Man, just anybody pick me. I just don't want to be the last one left in the room.'"

Hamilton's reality check, while powerful, didn't last too long, of course. The UConn star went on to go seventh overall to the Washington Wizards in 1999, and by the time he retired 16 years later, he'd left quite an imprint on the NBA. Hamilton spent nine seasons as a beloved member of the Detroit Pistons starting in 2002-03, helping the team overtake the favored Los Angeles Lakers in the 2004 NBA Finals, leading the league in field-goal percentage two years later and ultimately, in 2017, having his No. 32 jersey retired by the franchise.

CBS Sports Writer

Cody Benjamin joined CBS Sports in 2017 after time spent with SB Nation, various newspapers and his own Eagles outlet. Raised around the Philly sports scene, he now lives in Minnesota with his wife and... Full Bio

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