By Rick Palsgrove
Lamont Hampton is the new Groveport Madison Cruisers boys basketball head coach.
Hampton (pictured at right) replaces Ryan Grashel, who resigned earlier this year to accept the head boys basketball coaching position at New Albany High School.
According to Groveport Madison Athletic Director Steve Petros, Hampton has been a successful Cruiser assistant coach for the past three years.
“Lamont is on our security team at the high school,” said Petros. “This gives him a great opportunity to build relationships with our kids. Coach Hampton will be demanding an up tempo style of play from our kids. We are expecting the team to play tough nose defense.”
Hampton is excited to take the reins of the Cruiser basketball program.
“I want to be the head coach because I am deeply rooted in the program and I have a desire to build and develop young men in the Groveport community who I love and care for every day working at the high school and community,” said Hampton. “I knew I could continue to make a positive difference in our kids lives. I want the responsibility of preparing these young men for life, not just basketball. This is my fifth year working in the building, This gives me a deeper connection with the players throughout the entire program from top to bottom.”
Hampton has eight years of coaching experience in AAU basketball, along with basketball skills development and training. He was the junior varsity assistant for two years at Central Crossing High School. He next coached one year as the head freshman coach at Groveport Madison where the team finished 19-3 and won 17 straight games.
He moved up to Cruiser junior varsity head coach where the team had finished 19-2.
“My second year of being the junior varsity head coach we went 12-10,” said Hampton. “I’m proud of this season because we worked hard and we had guys move up to varsity mid-season that let me know I was getting guys ready for the next level.”
Hampton has five years of high school coaching experience and 13 years coaching experience overall.
“I played basketball my entire life,” he said. “I played varsity at Grove City High School and graduated in1997. I played college basketball at Urbana University for two years then transferred to play at Wilmington College my last two years where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sports management-administration. I did my internship my last semester as a student coach where I first realized I wanted to be a head coach.”
Style of play
Hampton said the Cruisers will have an up tempo style of play offensively and will push the basketball every chance they get.
“We will play unselfish basketball and move the ball,” said Hampton. “Defensively we will get after it and pressure teams all over the court. We will be a defensive team. We will play this way simply because that’s who we are as a team.”
The competition this season
The Cruisers will compete in a new division this year in the Ohio Capital Conference – the Buckeye Division made up of Groveport Madison, Central Crossing, Pickerington Central, Newark, Lancaster, and Reynoldsburg.
“Every team in the OCC deserves respect,” said Hampton. “It’s a tough league to play in. If you don’t come to play anyone is capable of beating you in the OCC. I think the Cruisers will match up fine regardless of who we play. We will respect all of our opponents and fear none.”
Top Cruiser players
Hampton said senior point guard Elyjah Aekins is one of the top defenders in the state.
“Aekins has the heart of a lion and the ability to penetrate against anyone,” said Hampton. “He is one of the best athletes in school and I expect a big year out of him.”
Senior shooting guard Scotty Lomax was the leading scorer last year averaging 13.6 points a game.
“He has unlimited jumping ability along with a incredible jump shot,” said Hampton.
Senior John Motton is a player who is expected to have a breakout year.
“He will be under the radar since he didn’t play much minutes last year, but I know he will surprise some people,” said Hampton. “John can play multiple positions and is one of our best athletes.”
Hampton said the team has rising juniors including Marlon Elliott Jr., Kenyatta Whiteside, and Abubuakar Diallo.
“Marlon has started varsity since his sophomore year,” said Hampton. “He has an unlimited motor on him and is a natural born leader. He is one of our best passers and is capable of big scoring nights.”
Whiteside plays multiple positions and who is a natural scorer and rebounder.
“I expect a big year out of Whiteside as well,” said Hampton. “Diallo is one of the best ball handlers on the team and has unlimited shooting range on the court.”
Cruiser basketball tradition of success
“There is a rich history of Cruiser basketball starting with Bob Miller who is a 500 win coach,” said Hampton. “Miller’s Cruiser teams dominated the hardwood for several seasons winning OCC titles in the 1970s and 1980s. Also, Ryan Grashel turning the program around eight years ago to what it is today is important. It is an honor and blessing to be a part of such a historic and community driven program. I look forward to continuing to be involved in the Groveport community, as well as add to the tradition, and history of the Groveport Madison basketball program for years to come.”