Collinsville guard Hadley Hamilton (5) celebrates with teammate Emma Terrell during the final seconds of the DeKalb County Tournament championship at DeKalb County Schools Coliseum in Rainsville this season.

Having always been armed with a love for shooting the basketball, Collinsville senior Hadley Hamilton’s signature smile gleamed when the conversation of her joining the women’s basketball program at Auburn University at Montgomery revolved around her becoming a shooting guard.

Hamilton has played point guard for the majority of her basketball career, but plans to shift her to shooting guard helped make a future of playing on the hardwood at Auburn-Montgomery that much more enticing.

The Collinsville senior signed a national letter of intent to continue her education and hoops career as a Warhawk during a signing ceremony at Collinsville High School on Thursday.

“My future coaches didn’t get to come because of COVID rules, but it was great to have my friends and family there and my team behind me, knowing they all support me and are excited for the next few steps I’m going to take,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton’s relationship with AUM women’s assistant basketball coach Lasheena Nation that stretches as far back as Hamilton’s junior high playing days at Crossville helped in her collegiate decision.

Back when Nation was a coach at Snead State Community College in Boaz, Hamilton and a friend would go play ball during the college’s open gym period on Sundays. While playing on the courts at Snead, Hamilton met Nation and the two struck up a friendship.

Nation later helped introduce Hamilton to AUM head coach Sean Page.

“I just really loved the things they had in mind for me,” Hamilton said. “When I visited, it felt like home.”

The Warhawks up-tempo style of play under Page’s leadership has been something else Hamilton has liked about the program.

“(Page) likes to get up a lot of shots, which I like too,” she said. “It means more chances to score.”

As a varsity basketball player at Collinsville, Hamilton helped the girls program win its first state championship during her junior season. It was the first state title by any girls’ sports program in Collinsville High School history. The top-ranked Panthers defeated No. 2 Cold Springs 58-45 in Birmingham in February 2020.

Panthers coach Jon Tidmore said Hamilton’s action of taking over games by driving to the basket was the biggest step in her development.

“Anyone who has seen her play knows she always has a smile on her face,” Tidmore said. “She’s high-character, works really hard off the court.

“...She’s just a superb shooter and has always had that, along with being a great passer. More than anything, she started to take over games by going to the goal.”

Hamilton’s dad, Rodney, is an assistant coach for Collinsville’s girls basketball team and has been helping coach his daughter throughout her athletic journey.

“It means the world having him around,” Hamilton said of her dad. “I wouldn’t be the person or the player I am today without him. He’s coached me since third grade. Even when I was at Crossville, he was an assistant coach there.”

When Hamilton moved from Crossville to Collinsville for her freshman year, Hamilton said she wasn’t sure if she’d see her dad on the sideline again. 

But, luckily, she did.

“He’s been to every (Amateur Athletic Union) tournament, every practice,” she said. “He’s just been the main reason I am where I am today. I can’t put into words how thankful I am.”

As a student at AUM, Hamilton said she plans to enroll in the communication disorders program and work on becoming a speech pathologist.

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